Why Do We Do What We Do?

Have you ever had that feeling where you’ve been working so hard for such a long time and then in one day you are made to feel worthless? Like everything you have learned up until this time was a waste of time? In the words of the man who spoke to a friend of mine…

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Have you ever had that feeling where you’ve been working so hard for such a long time and then in one day you are made to feel worthless? Like everything you have learned up until this time was a waste of time?

In the words of the man who spoke to a friend of mine when he was being interviewed for a position at his company: “You are caged. You do not know anything. You have spent three years working and yet no company of this size would ever take you.”

When we decide we want to go to school in this country, do we go for what we really want or do we go for the course that will gain us the fastest entry into a tertiary institution?

Do we really understand what the future holds or are we simply “going with the flow of the moment” hoping that things will sort themselves out as we go along?

I have a friend who works in a bank just like myself and while trying to find a different job since he hasn’t moved up the ladder of his institution, he was met with the roadblock of: “why should we employ you?”

An easy question right? You want to dazzle them with your fine face and wonderful presentation and tell them how resourceful you are and all of that but the truth is, other than your “book skill” and what you’ve learned on the job, why should a company really employ you? Why should they pay you so much when they could just pick anyone else and train them?

What makes you special? Why do you decide to do what you do? When you wake up each morning going to work, how do you feel? When you get to the office, how does it motivate you?

Do you wonder what you’re doing and how you found yourself there or are you always energised when you have to get on the grind?

I believe the time has come when we need to examine ourselves, when we need to examine our motivations and our aspirations and ask ourselves why we chose the current jobs we have.

Is there a chance for growth? Will it provide opportunities outside of our places of employment and does it add value to you as a person?

We need to shake up the status quo a bit and realise that ten years from now, it will be difficult to change careers and it will be a terrible thing to realise that you have climbed up the ladder leaning against the wrong wall.

Responses

  1. Loelah
    I ask my self this question almost everyday.
    Sometimes the thought of going to work and doing almost exactly the same thing everyday is just depressing.
    I think that as young people, we should develop ourselves outside the sphere of our current employment.
    Especially if you plan to switch careers along the way.
    But at the moment we do what we have to do until we do what we want to do.
    Just make Kaizen your mantra and I think you will be golden.
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    1. Osasu Elaiho
      “we do what we have to do until we do what we want to do.”

      I love that Leolah. I always love reading your comments.

      I didn’t know the Kaizen principle and had to Google it and it makes total sense.

      Continuous improvement of self is definitely important.

      Thank you

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  2. Paul Joe
    Great piece..the truth is the life that most people are living aint the life they choose for themselves but the one society throws at them,Most people dont do what they really want to do because they are afraid if they fail they will have nothing to fall back on,so they wake up every morning and go to a job they totally hate..
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  3. Hephie Brown
    Why do I do what I do? I wanted to be a lawyer, long story, got cut off in third year. Ok, i can still achieve my dreams without studying law eh? International relations it is, “doing” masters in international law. CIPM ongoing, tried learning french..I have to be the “most constantly improving” girl my age. Guess where I work? At an online company calling rude people on the phone everyday and collecting “peanuts” every month. My job adds no value to my life, they don’t offer any form of training or improvement to staff. When will I ever reap the rewards of “self improvement”? Of course I constantly ask myself why.. But i have house rent to pay, other bills, and I have to eat, and put clothes on my back, and the improvements are not free either.. I go to work late everyday cos, no motivation and I just wait for the sack letter to land. We’re in a country where you are lucky to even enjoy your job, even if it is not what u really want to do..This post is totally not for the average Nigerian.
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    1. Osasu Elaiho Post author
      Damn!! I’m just seeing this after all this time and what you’re going through is the story of my life. I keep constantly telling myself that I have to motivate myself or else I’ll just go through life like a zombie saying yes sir while hating every minute of it.

      Your last line: “we’re in a country where you are lucky to even enjoy your job…” is haunting because even months after writing this, it remains true.

      God help us!

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  4. adventure
    i totally relate, i have always wanted to be an OAP and still want to be one, on finishing school i realized getting an OAP job does not come so easy without knowing someone. Right now i work with a telecom company. I still want to be an OAP infact everyday i wake up i think of quitting.
    But how can you qui, who would pay your bills, how would you feed. I still pray daily to get the job. Not giving up.
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  5. A.
    This is such a important topic. I keep asking myself this question. I’ve worked in this company for 2 years. 2 years work experience is tricky when it comes to finding another job. You’re not a fresh graduate and you’re not also really an experienced hire so you have to convince the company to hire you. I’m trying to change jobs before i get stuck and I can’t seem to answer the question of “why should we hire you?” The statement that that company told your friend is how i fear i’ll be perceived. The problem is I don’t even know what to do about it. I just started preparing for ACCA exams because my current job requires it but then if i use that as a reason to hire me, i’ll be stuck in a job/career path that i’m not interested in. I don’t know really.
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    1. Osasu Elaiho Post author
      You are right when you say that the tricky part of an interview is answering the question of why the potential employer should hire you.

      I have noticed from interviews I have been involved in, that what they really want to see is how confident you are. Truth is that no matter how good you are (whether you like the career path or not), you are most likely still going to learn on the job as each company has its own policies.

      That being said, all you have to do is not necessarily wow them with your credentials and work experience but instead to show them how easy it is to relate with you, how well you work with others, that you have a good work attitude and don’t mind putting in the time to get the job done.

      Truth is that it may still not be something you truly want, but it is a change that adds to your CV and increases your earning income and while that might not be ideal you’ll know you’ve moved one step closer to what you may or may not truly want.

      Dicey isn’t it?

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  6. Abi Sanni
    My goodness ..YES to your post. I will hate to wake up sometime in the future to realize that I have been in the wrong path all these years.

    What really makes me different? I am not sure I know to be honest, still finding that out. It’s a bit difficult when you have a few years of real work experience

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    1. Osasu Elaiho Post author
      You know what’s really annoying? There’s “real work experience” and then “relevant work experience”.

      Imagine an engineer who works in a bank. He/she might have the experience of a banker being that it was the first job he/she could get. Yet when a move is made to venture into say an oil servicing company or an institution that would require the degree earned in school, you’ll find out that one does not have the required experience for this job and at the time, you may be too old to be taken in as a fresh entry.

      Imagine being stuck in such a limbo where you are forced to continue down that path you will hate so much as a result of a lack of choice(s) and/or alternative(s).

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