You've probably experienced this before – you get into a specific industry, expecting to do what you love most. And you know what? You actually do. But, to your horror, you also realize that you also have to do things that you don't like doing at all. Worse, you don't actually see how performing tasks such as that are supposed to help you achieve your professional dreams. All they're doing, as far as you can tell, is make you feel like a failure as a human being because you never feel like you're meant to be doing such tasks.
It's almost enough to make you want to quit.
Dammit Jim, I'm a _____ – not a _____
I'm not sure if it's Dr. Leonard McCoy (of Star Trek) who made it "a thing"; but in general we all want our roles within society in general and industries in particular to be clear-cut. Half the time, it's to ensure that we can focus on doing our jobs as well as we possibly can. The other half is based on self-preservation – after all, there are some employers out there who do try to abuse their employees by assigning tasks that don't fall within their job descriptions. They say "maximize worker capacity" and we say "yeah, RIGHT you cheapskates".
All in all, there are valid reasons for not wanting to do work that clearly doesn't fall within your skill set, responsibilities, or comfort zone.
But sometimes, it pays to stretch
Of course, despite our current obsession of "branding ourselves" as professionals or "developing a niche" (which inevitably compels us to limit the scope of what we're willing to do) there's still something to be said about doing stuff you don't care for. It's not just about the money – although that and the prospect of not starving are good motivators. It's about growing both as a person and as a professional.
When I first started to work as a writer for various websites, I didn't even know how to send an Internet fax or use spreadsheets to track the progress of my production. I absolutely resented having to know how to do those things. But you know what happened? I learned how to do those things, and they basically helped me later on when I became a full-time freelancer. Being organized through spreadsheets and having the ability to send invoices in formats that older clients are comfortable with made me an extremely effective worker. Doing unpalatable work can actually work out for you.
Won't that encourage abuse, though?
It's easy to believe the adage "you give an inch and they'll run a mile" because it has, in fact happened to a whole lot of people. I've heard of some cases in which a simple coffee favor turned into full-blown expectations. You've probably heard those stories too. But the trick here is to recognize what can and cannot provide you professional benefits in the future, given the skill set that you've amassed so far. Better yet, you can try and imagine what sorts of opportunities you are opening yourself up to now that you're learning a new skill.
There are certainly a lot of things that you don't really want to do or don't really have to do. But sometimes, knowing how to do them can be darn convenient. That's why, once in a while, we should try embracing the work we don't like.
Monique Jones is an Engineer who deals with telephone systems. Besides being an Engineer, she also works as a part time writer. She helps her colleagues and other people about their communication issues, giving effective solutions to address their needs.