FRANK TALK ABOUT WHAT WE DO WITH OUR LIVES

20-Week Update

In Notes on June 7, 2011 at 12:19 am

20 weeks, 20 essays. That seems positive, as if this project might be tapping into something real.

It’s interesting, though: not everyone gets Work Stew. Partly it’s an age thing. As far as readers/listeners go, the sweet spot seems to be people who are old enough to have had their childhood dreams knocked around a bit, but young enough to be contemplating several more decades in the workforce.

That said, age doesn’t seem to be the sole predictor of Work Stew enthusiasm levels. Some of the site’s most avid fans aren’t searching for career answers of their own; they’re already quite content with what they do, or they’re retired. In these cases, what Work Stew visitors seem to be responding to is simply the storiesthe chance to hear first-hand what goes through the mind of a soldier, or an air traffic controller, or a stay-at-home dad.

Recently I was asked by someone who had heard of Work Stew but hadn’t visited the site, “Why would anyone want to read people’s complaints about their jobs?” Mmm. I’m not entirely clear where this experiment is headed, but I do know this: that’s not what Work Stew is all about.

Work Stew is a place for people to think out loud about what they do for a living. When some people, like pediatrician Peter Morningstar, think out loud, they end up expressing what they love about their jobs. Others, like former CIA operative Lindsay Moran, wind up sharing a complicated mix of views. And even those who cop to being somewhat disgruntled explore their feelings in what seems to me to be a pretty thoughtful and constructive way.

Most of us will spend the vast majority of our waking hours working; it seems important to think deeply, and often, about how exactly we’re spending that time. I’ll be frank: I consider my own work angst to be the result of a failure of imagination on my part. Looking back, I don’t feel that I explored widely enough, or hard enough, before charting my course.

For me anyway, Work Stew’s essays and interviews are slowly but steadily helping me to expand my notion of what’s possible. In a way that no reference book on careers ever has, this growing collection of stories is helping me to approach my own career dilemma anew, armed with a much wider range of reference points and considerations than I had twenty years ago.

But that’s just me. Please let me know if Work Stew is resonating with you in any way. I’m curious to know what you like, what you don’t like, and where you think it should head next.

Thanks very much,

Kate


  1. Perhaps ‘Work Stew’ isn’t as good as being Dorothy Flanderbus – famous author, millionairess and constant brandy-sipper in the early afternoon-late morning, but it sure beats the snot out of sitting on your duff in front of soap operas, Kate. With this project you’ve not only managed to give voice (and space) to lots of decent writers who happen to be trolling the workplace for stories, but have given birth to one of your ideas. How many among us have great ideas (ketchup on a stick!) that we never realize? The majority of us, that’s who. Congrats at achieving something real. (Hey: it smells like Mom’s kitchen in here… is that Work Stew?)

  2. ps: that is NOT my picture: my wife’s computer must’ve sent that image when I ‘borrowed’ it to write one time. She’s pretty: I’m the rustic, dude-looking writer of the house.

  3. For sure it resonates!. Which is why I come back here often. Sometimes to look at the world of others. Sometimes to acknowledge we are all universally tied by the same emotions, similar peaks and troughs. Sometimes to agree and sometimes not. Its a lovely spot ( like my fave coffee hangout) to come discuss, throw thoughts at each other, imbibe and go away learning something for that day. I look fwd to your posts…so keep them coming!

  4. […] To learn more about how things are going at Work Stew, check out this recent update. […]

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