Cubicle Monkey

Christopher McCandless: Mr. Franz, I think careers are a 20th century invention and I don’t want one.

Into the Wild (2007)

In the week that was, I completed a trivial milestone of 8 years work in my field as a software engineer. 1st October 2007, was the start of my professional life. I remember starting work exactly one week after India won the first edition of the T-20 world cup. Now, I am in no way proud of being a cubicle monkey for 8 years but at the same time, I would say the journey hasn’t really been a drag .

The transition from college to work wasn’t an easy one. Fresh out of college, we are adventure seekers and the thought of travelling to work every day (which itself is a task), working under horrible bosses, along with incompetent colleagues requires a major change. To make it clear once and for all “I hate the office”, but I can also tell you that I haven’t survived 8 years on hate but in fact, found “my balance” to go through the motions in a happy sort of way. Below is a small list of I-dos to ensure that the office journey is a worthwhile one. May be you can use a few of them to help you go through the mundane ritual of office more positively.

  • Monday to Friday keep the game face on. No matter which day of the week you go to work, take your enthusiasm, energy and passion with you. Be wary of those colleagues that only complain and paint the office as a graveyard. To make sure your professional life is going to be worthwhile, remember to influence the environment positively, don’t become a product of it.
  • Ensure you are good at your work and work on continuous improvement. This introspection is really important. It doesn’t mean taking your work seriously, on the contrary it ensures that the 8-9 hours spent every day at the office were worth your time. If you find yourself not wanting to do this, then it may mean you are in the wrong line of work.
  • Don’t chase the money. No matter how hard and how long you work at the office you will always be poor. Now this may sound stupid, but read financial literacy and you will get my drift. Anyway, if you are doing your job just for the money then it’s always going to be a drag.
  • Have a social life, pursue your hobbies and travel. Make use of all available free time, holidays and leaves to do stuff that you want to do. Don’t waste it in front of the T.V. Pursuing the things that matter to you will ensure that you aren’t day dreaming and well wishing at your cubicle on Monday morning.
  • Stay healthy. You can be at your best in the office (and in life) only if you feel good and are healthy. Exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Take care of overdosing on junk and road side food. Those with desk jobs have to guard against sedentary lifestyles and the only way to counter it, is by getting sweaty.
  • When it comes to taking one day leaves most people want the long weekend and prefer to take Friday off. With my zodiac’s inability to conform, I prefer to take an off on Monday or midweek. Not turning up on a Monday is a joy in itself and you still get the long weekend. I also think a midweek break is better than a long holiday unless you have a planned outing. Lastly, going to work on Friday is fun because the whole office is in a chipper mood since the next day is an off.

Sure, careers are an invention. But just like every other invention it depends on how you use it. It is true when people say that at the time of death no one will ask you: how many hours have you logged in at work? The wisdom is all in balance. Don’t get so deep into your work that it becomes a life raft for you and at the same time make it worthy enough of your time and energy.


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