What ‘Friends’ Can Teach Us About Work

Friends cast

The first episode of Friends aired 26 years ago, yet the hit TV show still reigns supreme. Streaming services have paid millions and millions of dollars just to get the streaming rights for the sitcom. According to figures from Nielsen, Friends was the second most watched show in 2018 in the U.S. In the era of social media, quotes from the comedy series have been made into memes and GIFs. Experts have attributed Friends’ success into its balanced portrayal of fantasy and realism. While the show may have some unrealistic attributes, it’s still believable enough to be relatable.

Here are some lessons about work from the beloved sitcom:

Success Isn’t a Straight Line

In the sixth season, Joey is working as a waiter in a coffee shop. As a professional actor, he has to get headshots made that are incredibly expensive. To make extra money, he becomes a paid volunteer for a study. Although Joey’s goal is to act, he accepts that he needs to find other ways to make ends meet.

The path to success isn’t a straight line. It often involves trials and obstacles. Sometimes it feels like you’ve taken a step forward, only to take two steps back later. This happened to Joey throughout the run of the show. He landed a regular role on a soap opera during the second season, but he got fired. He had to be humbled and take up lower-paying jobs to pay the bills. But it all worked out for him eventually. By the end of the series, he was rehired by the soap opera and landed a starring role in a TV show and a movie. To be successful, you need to be patient. You may have to make compromises to get there but if remain committed, it will work out.

Leave Room for Growth

It’s important to maintain a living while chasing your dreams. It may take a while for you to get the job that you actually enjoy doing. You can settle for a temporary job and build up your savings. On the other hand, it’s also important to set a time limit. If you’ve gotten too comfortable, you may end up feeling like you’re in a rut. You’ll feel bored and unsatisfied. This is because there’s no room for growth.

This is what happened to Rachel and Chandler. Rachel worked as a waitress to earn money while she was pursuing a career in fashion. But she needed a push from her friends to quit and actively look for a fashion-related job. Meanwhile, Chandler also hated his job, but he stayed because of the salary and promotions. It wasn’t until he felt compelled to resign that he pursued his passion.

If you feel like there’s future for you in your current job, consider shifting gears. You can talk to your boss about your career. Maybe there are plans to expand the business, and you can take up a more senior role there. You can also try looking for opportunities outside of the company. You don’t have to settle for discontent and boredom.

Keep Your Professional and Personal Relationships Separate

relationship at work concept

It’s great to make friends at work. You’ll have someone to talk to and ask for help, especially during stressful times. It’s only a problem when friendships develop into something more. A lot of companies have anti-fraternization policies that forbid romantic relationships between coworkers. But people can still pursue romantic relationships. They’ll only have to hide it at work.

In Friends, this was exhibited by Ross and Rachel. Ross was a college professor who started dating a former student. He was warned by his colleagues that he would be fired if his bosses found out. Rachel went out with her assistant despite warnings from her own boss. She even experienced some problems at work because of her relationship.

By itself, a romantic relationship is complicated. If you add the work element, it’s even trickier. According to a 2018 survey, the number of companies that implemented stricter sexual harassment policies increased in light of the #MeToo Movement. Companies have started to require employees to disclose relationships. They also discourage relationships between supervisors and subordinates. That’s why it’s best to keep your professional and private life separate. There’s no danger of getting fired or penalized.

Whether you enjoy what you do or not, work can be complicated. You have to deal with professional relationships and office politics on top of your responsibilities. But, as Friends has shown, it’s possible to be satisfied with your work and be happy with your personal life.

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