Creating mental wealth: The importance of finding a job you love doing

Dom Burch is the founder and MD of Why Social, a strategic marketing consultancy, and former senior director of marketing innovation and new revenue at Asda. Trained in PR, Dom has spent the last 17 years in a variety of comms roles at Asda, Direct Line and Green Flag including head of PR and head of social.

Creating mental wealth

Next month I've been invited to talk at The Festival of Marketing on the Realising Your Potential stage. It's my first speaking gig since leaving Asda earlier in the year.

In the past I've been booked to talk about social media. Giving insight into how a supermarket manages Facebook or builds an audience on YouTube.

However, this time they wanted me to talk about mental health.

They'd apparently spotted something I'd written on here (someone occasionally reads my mutterings it would appear). In the blog I make the point that being selfish and focusing on your on mental well-being is no bad thing.

Not for the first time, I'd been inspired by my fellow The Drum opinion writer Stephen Waddington who'd penned a considered piece about our industry being always on.

Stephen wrote that "in marketing and PR there’s no longer a clear distinction between work and play, day and night," and went on to say that mobile devices and tablets bridge the gap between the working day, and evenings and weekends.

"Social media means you’re as likely to be friends with your chief executive, colleague, or client as you are anyone else," – hence, there is no longer work/life balance, there's just life.

It's a profound and important point. How do you purposely switch off, recharge, let go, and give yourself a break?

My dad once told me if you find a job you love you'll never work another day in your life. I thought he was very wise. I was young and impressionable. He seemed to love his job, albeit he suffered a heart attack at 45, in part due to stress. It was a formative time, I was 13 and I was scared he would die. He went on to make a full recovery and has only just retired.

However, he changed after that event. He was forced to take six months off work. He considered his diet and got fit. Unable to return to playing football, he trained as a referee, taking charge of lower league games for five or six years. Last year he more or less retired, aged 72. He's a young 72. Happy, smart, active, supportive, generous, and wise. Still wise.

So as I approach the age that my dad had his heart attack, I've been forced to take time off work. In my case due to redundancy rather than for health reasons, but ironically enough, the result is similar.

For 17 years I've been conditioned to turn up every day, nine until five, in order to get paid to do a job. Yet, my best thinking is often outside of those hours. By mid PM, I'm normally mentally spent. By early evening I struggle to write my name, let alone anything worth reading.

It's taken six months to readjust. When I walked out of Asda House for the last time on 12 February I felt the need to run around looking for work. I dashed to Cheltenham to meet an old boss now at Superdry, I flew to Maine USA to meet another former colleague, scouting for work.

I set up my consultancy and Twitter account from day one, rewriting LinkedIn and proving to the world and to myself I had what it takes to succeed. Then the lawyers reminded me until I'd signed on the dotted line I couldn't work for anyone else. Not even myself. It was incredibly frustrating, but in hindsight a blessing in disguise.

I've since realised how many opportunities there are in the outside world, when you stop to take a look.

'Working from home' has opened my eyes to a new daily schedule. And given me the chance to do my best thinking at times that suit me. I also get to take the kids to school, go for breakfast with my wife, and cut the grass on a whim to clear my head.

These past few weeks the universe has conspired in positive way to throw me together with my brother, who's a doctor, my best friend from school, and two people I consider to be the most creative thinkers I know.

We've laughed out loud every day. We've schemed and pontificated. We've created campaigns for national brands, community craft projects, as yet unknown coffee chains, thought up networking events, retreats and reciprocal business models.

Unconstrained by conventional wisdom, that this needs to be formal, written down, or driven by status or money. We're like the best mixed doubles tennis match in the world. Pinging ideas back and forth.

As an aside, my brother merely looks forward to the day he can buy a top hat. That sums up our collective motivational force.

A few years back I discovered how five simple Post It notes can change your life: you can read the post here.

Of the five things I discovered about me, this one is key – I wanted to be in a role where my creativity was celebrated not seen as disruptive. It's a fundamental insight into my psyche and why I'd become increasingly frustrated by corporate life, but even more so for my best friend from school.

Out of respect to him I won't go into the details, but needless to say, had he fallen into an ad agency at 18 he'd have made a very different mark by now. His campaigns would be household favourites.

I believe he'll now set the world on fire. But in a very different way. He's an artist at heart. How he thinks is unique, he's the one per cent that can see things in front of his eyes that are invisible to most. How he thinks is his true value, not what he knows.

When you understand what gives you a sense of well-being, what makes you truly grateful, and realise a job title and pay rise isn't it (it rarely is), your life is set free.

Happiness is now. Not once you've paid the mortgage off, or been promoted, or had the affair you've fantasised about. It's now. In order to feel it though, you need to recognise what gives you that satisfaction.

It's seldom what you first think.

Please join me at my session if you get the chance, if only to show your moral support.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.