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Can I Make My Job Meaningful?
I've been a house painter, a waiter, an improv actor, and I can say that all jobs are boring sometimes. Right now I am in a dream job, but still there are meetings where I'm counting the tiles on the floor. Instead of blaming my work, I ask myself how I can make it more interesting. When I was painting windowsills, I had a rich fantasy life—I'd be a senator one day, a famous poet the next. I imagined having an office on K Street in Washington, D.C., with a potted plant, and within a year, I actually ended up in an office on K Street with a potted plant. I don't believe in mind magic, but your imagination can be the beginning of your future. And a little boredom and dissatisfaction may give you the motivation to change. If there are other people around, that's another kind of opportunity: They may have things to teach you, or ways to inspire you. The other guys on the painting crew were a legion of unemployed philosophy majors, and we had some of the most interesting conversations of my life.

G. Richard Shell is a professor at the Wharton School and author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success.


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