There is an exponentiation operation I like. Actually 2 of them:
1.01^365 = 37.8
0.99^365 = 0.03
What this shows is that if you push just 1% more every day, by the end of one year you’ll get 37.8 times better.
On the other hand, if you do 1% less every day, you’ll degrade quite a lot by the end of one year.
Without getting into details that in reality it is probably impossible in the long term to get daily 1% better than the previous day, it’s still a very motivational mathematical metaphor.
Keeping this in mind, you come home daily and try to get better in something. Just a tiny bit.
Maybe you’re learning a foreign language, or a programming language, learning to play that song you like on the guitar, reading about a subject you’re interested in, watching some DYI videos, trying a new cake recipe, figuring out how to change the headlamp on your car.
Sometimes it happens that you come home from work tired and you have no more mental energy to work on those personal goals of yours. This displeases you, because you keep that mathematical operation in your mind and you know the power of compound improvement.
But is your dissatisfaction justified? Does your work prevent you from becoming better?
It surely depends on your work, but most probably it gives you lots of opportunities to improve. And event if, let’s say, you have a period when your tasks are not challenging enough or the work is repetitive, you still can create challenges for yourself.
This leads to the main idea: you can set personal goals at work.
The company I work at actually has this policy: employees can agree on an yearly personal goal. This goal has to push further something you’re good at and also challenge you where you’re weak.
If your company doesn’t have such a policy, do this unofficially. You want to learn a new technology? Try to find its use in your next project and implement it. Are you using some innovations in your work processes? Make a presentation for your colleagues and gain a deeper understanding of it. Want to improve your persuasion skills? Persuade your company to encourage this personal goals setting with financial motivation.
I think one shouldn’t treat their working time as being simply exchanged for the salary and as if it’s fully controlled by the employer. It surely gives you many opportunities to daily become a better you and if you don’t see these opportunities, most probably you can create them yourself by setting personal goals.
But again, it depends on where you work and if the atmosphere there is unhealthy, you probably don’t want to stay there for a long time.