Your job, in four-dimensions

Published on
August 11, 2014
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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Maybe you’re in the wrong job. Then again, maybe not.

No matter what you do, no matter how much you love your job, there will be days when you feel it might be time for a change.

“As I enjoy telling my wife, work is called ‘work’ and not ‘super happy fun time’ because often it’s just tasks that need to be done.”

Paul Jarvis

Having a bad day (or three) is not a terrible thing, and it doesn’t mean you’ve “failed” at finding a fabulous way to earn a living. It just means that not every day is perfect. Same goes for relationships. Same goes for hobbies, groups you belong to and dinner at your favorite restaurant. Not every experience is going to be perfect. Most of us realize that.

When, however, that job is consistently unpleasant, unfulfilling, uninspired or any other un- you want to use as a metric, it might very well be time for a change. Here’s my thought though: A job has four distinct dimensions. And sometimes changing one dimension is enough to get you back to a positive place. Not perfect (because that doesn’t exist). But positive.


Who you work with, where you work, and what hours you keep can play a major role in not only the quality of work you do, but the enjoyment you glean from said work. Even things like what you (are expected to) wear can play a major role. When I was working in biz dev for a marketing company, I used to wear a suit to meetings… and keep a t-shirt in my office so I could actually think. Call it psychological, but the t-shirt brought out my best work. The suit just looked good.


What you do with your days – ie. the technical skill you apply is what most people think of when they think of a “job”. So yes, this should definitely be taken into account. If you don’t like numbers, don’t be an accountant. If meeting new people makes you extremely uncomfortable, probably don’t go into sales. But that one’s fairly obvious.


If content is the “what” then context is the “how”. My accountant plays a lot of golf, drives a great car and flies all over the world on behalf of his clients. He’s not what you’d call a “typical” accountant, but what’s typical these days? If you’re a designer, that’s your content, but the context could be wildly varied. Work for a big agency. Freelance from home. Work for a non-profit you’re passionate about. Sometimes the how you do is more impactful on the what you do.

End Game

Why are you doing it? We’re so bombarded by information and tasks that it can be pretty easy to only focus on this day or this week. What’s the long term play here, and, is this temporary reality a stepping stone to something that would/will be more fulfilling? My only cautionary note on that is that it’s pretty easy to spend your whole life pursuing that next thing, in the futile belief that somehow that next plateau will be the holy grail of happiness. Unless there’s something radically different on the other side of “this”, you may be fooling yourself.

My point here is that it’s rarely all four dimensions that need to change for us to experience greater happiness. As a Forbes article from last year highlighted, “more than 95% of workers in the U.S. are in the wrong roles.” Not the wrong companies, necessarily, nor in the wrong field. Just the wrong role.

Sometimes a simple change can be the most effective.

Image credit to Adverbox