So many financial topics intersect with work topics. There are retirement goals, pensions and employer plans, income and benefits, career outlook, possible commuting expenses—the list goes on!
In talking with many of our friends, however, the work topics that have the biggest impact on how we feel day-to-day are a little less concrete. It’s sometimes less about the numbers and maybe more about how we think about our work or how we define success.
Success can be measured in multiple ways; it doesn’t have to be based on the type of career or how lucrative it is. Maybe it’s more about who we get to be at work. Maybe some people achieve success from the relationships they build professionally or the joy they bring to others through their work. Some might enjoy a good competition to feed their ego, while others may be proud just to make it through the day.
The hit sitcom The Office depicts everyday work life for the employees of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, a seemingly mundane office setting in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The office is managed by an eccentric “man-child” who spices up day-to-day activities with crazy stunts along with his maniac second-in-command, Dwight. Michael couldn’t care less if his staff meets quotas every day: he just wants his work friends to be happy. To live life to the fullest.
Somehow, even with all the shenanigans that happen at work, the job gets done. Each character explores their passions, navigates life, and shows us that success isn’t all based on the money you have in your bank account. We can enjoy the little triumphs and give ourselves credit when it’s due.
Now for a little fun… Which character resonates with you? Here are a few fan favorites from The Office lineup: each has their own strengths, goals, dreams, and relationship to their so-called day job.
Michael: Creative, Childlike, Optimistic
- Michael dances to the beat of his own drummer. He resists going along with the crowd (sound familiar?), and he won’t waste time doing something that doesn’t bring him joy. He finds fulfillment through companionship—and bringing out the best qualities in his colleagues. Success, to him, is living up to the text on the coffee mug he bought for himself, to be the “WORLD’S BEST BOSS.”
Dwight: Analytical, Competitive, Committed
- Growing up on a farm with his (peculiar) family made Dwight skeptical of “city folk” and anyone who didn’t share his views. But this makes him both curious and thorough in his research as he makes decisions. His ways might be strange to others, but he knows they are right for him. His sense of success comes from earning the promotions and respect he’s always desired.
Jim: Clever, Efficient, Funny
- Jim really exemplifies the “work smarter, not harder” philosophy. He’s one of the highest producers in the office, but he puts in the least amount of effort. The efficiency in his work allows him to spend his time doing things he enjoys—like creating elaborate pranks on Dwight or meaningful gestures for his romantic interest, Pam. Some might see him as lazy, but he gets in and out so that he can prioritize what’s important to him. His success lies in finding gratification in the small things.
Pam: Practical, Passionate, Thoughtful
- Pam is always looking for ways to improve herself and the systems and spaces around her. She knows what she is passionate about, and with support, she will take chances toward her dreams. She learns, grows, and ends up changing her mind about things a time or two, but she has the ability to end up where she wants to be. Pam shows us that as long as we have a plan, and we keep our values in mind, it’s never too late to try. Her success comes from learning along the way and being there for those she loves.
These characters, although fictional, remind us that it’s okay to take “serious” topics like work a little less seriously. Sure, we show up to work, we do what needs to be done, but what we get out of the experience may be more up to us than a paycheck.
Everyone is unique, so we will all take different paths to get to where we want to be. We choose how we define success. Does anyone’s approach sound like you? We would love to find out! Call or email us to chat.
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