Monday, September 6, 2010


Ron and I spent Labor Day weekend putting our yard back together. A few months ago, we had twenty feet of sewer line replaced, and finally the ground settled enough that we could put the walkway along the side of our house back in and then . . . the landscaping. I mentioned in an earlier post how much I dread gardening because the pressure of what goes where is just too much for me. So we went to a nursery for a little professional help.

By the end of Saturday, my entire body was aching. Sunday morning I needed ibuprofen just to get out of bed. But we got back out there and finished the job today. It's been one of the most satisfying few weekends I've had in a long time, because there is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment.

And that's a feeling we don't get to experience much these days--we, meaning society. Us. People. The economy stinks right now, but even those with jobs don't love them. At least most of them don't. Sure, they might appreciate them--might appreciate being able to pay rent or to buy groceries or have a little leftover to put into a child's college fund. But enjoy our jobs? Not so much.

I came across this list of the top 300 jobs with the highest job-satisfaction ratings. Top of the list is "Singer." Okay, so not a lot of professional singers out there relative to the population. So let's skip them. Number two is "Municipal Fire Fighter."

The rest in the top ten are as follows:

3. Aircraft Assemblers
4. Pediatricians
5. College Professors - Communications
6. Education, Vocational, and School Counselors
7. Managers/Supervisors of Animal Husbandry & Animal Care Workers
8. Criminal Investigators & Special Agents
9. College Instructors - Other
10. Therapists - Other

A lot of people-helping-people (and -animal) jobs in there. In fact, the top twenty is crowded with them. And aside from the Pediatrician, we're not talking jobs that pay a whole heck of a lot here. So where are the surgeons? The lawyers? The financial analysts? Hm. Give me a minute as I scan the list . . . doo-dee-doo . . . Sorry. It's taking me a minute here. Ah. There they are. Surgeons: #219. Lawyers: #268. Financial Analysts: #300.

Bus Drivers--that's right Bus Drivers--have more job satisfaction than lawyers. Orderlies have more job satisfaction than surgeons. And tax preparers have more job satisfaction than financial analysts.

So we all know money can't buy love or happiness or even a decent t-shirt from the Gap these days. This isn't news.

But I think it's not just helping people that makes us happy: it's the feeling of accomplishment, of going home at the end of the day and feeling like you got something done--and being recognized for having done something. We need that a lot more than we want to admit.

We hire people to mow our lawns. We hire people to walk our dogs--to clean up our dogs' poop, for crying out loud! We hire people to shovel our 8X2 sidewalk, to wash our windows, to make our dinner, to paint our nails, to bake our kids' birthday cakes. So we can have time to what? Feel dissatisfied because we just spent 8 hours doing something that will never make us feel like we actually finished anything?

So do something this week. And finish it. You'll be happier for it. I promise. Maybe not richer, maybe not able to walk without wincing thanks to those shooting pains in your back from shoveling topsoil for hours . . . but happier.


Mendy said...

Our job satisfaction discussion has resurfaced it's ugly little head the past week. I'll spare you the details. It did prompt us to do an internet scouring of jobs last night and we found a possibility in New Zealand. Three cheers for another long shot!

I find great satisfaction in manual labor. I like shoveling the walk, mowing the yard - like you said, I can see the finished product and that is satisfying. I think that's also why I like vacuuming.

Bobbie said...

New Zealand, Mendy? I'm envious already. I edited a book for a friend about his mission there and it only increased my determination to visit one day. If you do end up there, I'll be knocking on your door. I know you're saying the move is a long shot, so I won't start packing yet. Just warning you ahead of time.

Me, too, on the vacuuming! And I love sweeping as well. It's been my 'phone activity' since I was about 12 . . . that and wiping down counters repeatedly.

Mendy said...

Cal served his mission in New Zealand and yes, it is as wonderful as we think it is. Alas, we already heard back that the position has been filled. Guess they had already been interviewing for a while:( Back to the job postings then....

Iuliana Blakely said...

That is exactly what I was thinking the other day. Nothing like some hard physical work. I finally cleaned my kitchen all the way (and I mean moving the refrigerator and stove and cleaning behind there, and scrubbing the floor on my knees), and nothing feels quite the same at the end of the day. I love it. I know people say that having others do all these things gives them time to spend with their family. Doing what? Isn't it better to do work together? Oh how much I want to inspire the precious value of work in my children. I hope I can do that.

Bobbie said...

If you love the work then your children will, Iuliana. Kids love it when they're young--Emma and Ivan's ages. Only later do they learn to see it as a chore, and I think that's because the fun and novelty wear off. It's about approaching the work with joy, I'm sure, and as long as you can teach them to find joy in accomplishing anything--be it yard work or school work or service--then they'll keep a positive attitude.