How I Learned to Not Hate a Cubicle Job

Cubicle jobs. Some people appear to thrive in their cubicle. I do not.

Maybe I spent too many years doing my own thing while raising my daughters? I don’t know. Spending all day at a desk in a cubicle can feel like torture at times.

It’s not the people or the company. Both are really quite decent. Plus, they moved my desk to somewhere kind of office like and I feel better. Privacy can help. All of that still hadn’t really changed my experience, yet. Things weren’t terrible but ….

Shifting Your Mental Framework

What finally did it? A shift in my belief system. Yes, you can change your beliefs! In fact, it can be a lot of fun!

Did you know there is a whole field of magickal study based on adopting belief systems to accomplish specific objectives? It’s called Chaos Magick. When the practitioners are done they just let the new beliefs go. While I wasn’t looking at this as a magickal project, I did think it would be fun and good practice to try changing my belief system around my work situation.

Basically, I just chose to look at my presence in this company from a very different point of view.

What inspired me initially was reading this essay about the show “The Office”. No I haven’t seen it yet but I will soon! The author Venkatesh Rao has a fun and well thought out analysis of the various characters. He does a superb job analyzing the characters motivations and strategies within the firm. I think

As I was reading his essay I started thinking about my situation. I realized there was something very fundamental about my beliefs around my work which I really hadn’t seriously questioned.

Why Are You in the Cubicle? Time for Money?

In short I was looking at the relationship with my employer as fundamentally an economic transaction. I provide value in services for a certain number of hours, they pay me in dollars. Pretty accurate description of a job, right?

There are a number of ways to look at work:

  • Do you get paid for every hour you are clocked in?
  • Maybe you are on salary?
  • Some people get paid for units of production. A dollar a widget for example.
  • Maybe you are at work because of the impact you are having on the world.

There is another way to view your presence at work. This view is more fundamental and ancient than the economic perspective.

How did people survive 1000 years ago? 10,000 years ago? 50,000 years ago? Our ancestors had a different view of gathering together.

Social Groups are a Human Survival Strategy

Survival! Humans have been forming groups to stay alive for a very long time. It’s something that practically defines us. Tribal groups, villages, towns, cities, and on and on.

I began asking myself these questions:

  • What if I took money out of the picture?
  • What if I started seeing my work place as the equivalent of a small rural village?
  • What if I changed my very belief about why I was at work?

This is the fun part about beliefs. Changing them like this only really threatens the ego. If I discarded the belief that I was in my cubicle to make money how would that change my experience? Money is a side effect of my presence instead of the reason.

I started making this shift last week. It wasn’t really all that hard. Though I did have to do a few things differently. For example, I went to the White Elephant Christmas party. I am not sure I would have gone before this experiment in belief swapping.

It was fun! Pretty sure people saw a side of me they hadn’t yet. I was being more open because I was seeing them and myself in a more human manner.

Some of the benefits so far:

  • Sleeping Better
  • Faster Days
  • Less Self-Conscious
  • More Energy When I Get Home

Conclusion

My experiment in changing my beliefs about the purpose of the job is going really well so far. Not seeing the job as primarily a financial transaction has some definite benefits.

Seeing work as a modern version of the human social survival group was the core idea I adopted.

Putting the humanity of the experience at the center of attention is the root cause of the change. Without that focus important human qualities such as connection, empathy, and vulnerability are not as apparent. They can still be present. It’s just that they can be a little harder to reach. Putting them at the center of attention changes everything.

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