16 months ago my career started to die, some might say I was committing career suicide….
It’s not that I meant for it to happen but as I look back this was definitely the beginning of the end. I’d be kidding myself however if I didn’t say that the signs were always there. I’d been keeping it on life support for years
When I was a boy (young man actually)…..
I remember back to when I was 21 (now 28) and a graduate fresh out of university. I was happy. Happy to be working my first 9-5 job (with a full time salary) and enjoying the experience of moving to the big smoke. That’s what I’d studied for right? All the hours of education and hard work I’d put in had finally paid off. I had secured what society had expected of me, some might say “I’d made it”.
Deep inside however something was brewing. I couldn’t put my finger on it but it was like an itch that I could never scratch.
Each day I traveled for 90 minutes, just to get to work, on crowded and smelly trains. I hated it but it was worth it for the money right? As I looked around at the passengers traveling with me each day nobody had a smile on their face. Was it just because they were tired from waking up so early or was it because the train tends to put you in temporary travel coma? Every day I’d see the same people, some of which were considerably older than I was. It was like a sea of white and pasty faces, whether young or old, deprived from the sun and the outside world.
I was genuinely scared. Would this be me in the not too distant future watching as the skin sagged off my bones and the cheeky sparkle for life had left my eye?
I tried to explain my different views on working in an office 9-5 to a few of my closest colleagues. I thought it was my worst nightmare coming true when I saw their face. Had I turned up to work without my clothes on? I gave myself a once over and sure enough I was wearing the same suit I wore every day (I couldn’t afford more). So why in the world were they looking at me like I was an alien? I couldn’t understand why they were so content to sit in a chair every day, doing something they didn’t love and go without experiencing life outside of the office four walls. It was killing me!
Their responses always left me questioning my own attitude. Was there something wrong with me? Why wasn’t I content the way others were? For years I thought I was the only one of my kind.
Fast forward to 16 months ago…(Career Suicide Begins)
16 months ago I started my new position (current) at a new company. I thought I would love the job and hoped it would push my skills to new limits. This job would put me into the “elite”, the best of the best in my field I’d hoped. I had passion, bucket loads of it, and couldn’t wait to get started. I couldn’t wait to begin the steep learning curve I’d surely be on.
I was nervous in fact. So nervous that before I started the role I began to read furiously and consume everything in my path. I wasn’t going to be the one to embarrass myself in front of my new colleagues by my lack of understanding. Respect has to be earned and I wanted to make sure I started by placing my best foot forward.
Sadly my naive assumptions about the role couldn’t have been further from the truth.
As each day passed by the expectations I had were slowly fading away. Everywhere I looked within the company things were broken. At first I tried to see it as a challenge, put a positive spin and tell myself that the bigger the challenge is the better the pay off would be. Maybe it wasn’t what I expected but I felt my passion might just do the trick to fix it. Besides I was no longer taking the trains each day so that was a good start.
Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position of power and I needed to convince those above me that change was necessary. I tried to explain the simplest things like “if you don’t tie your shoelace there is a strong chance you might trip over and fall” only to receive the response that “my shoelaces are always undone and I’ve never fallen over” (purely an example of simplicity). My role is somewhat similar to having car insurance in that nobody finds it necessary until you hit that brand new Ferrari. You only hope when it happens that you either a) had cover and/or b) paid enough for your cover to protect you against the damages.
I tried to motivate those around me only to find that I was walking the same footprints they had made. There was a strong case to say that a number of those colleagues were suffering from Presenteeism, which is the occurrence of when a worker is physically present but lacks any productivity. They’d given up already and in their own way shown that I’d find it easier the moment I did too.
Each day I’d wake up with zero excitement for what I was doing. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life explaining the risk of untied shoelaces (again an example only). Something had to change because I could no longer see a future doing what I was doing. This role had killed my passion for current career.
Fast forward to the Current day….
You might be rolling your eyes by now? I hear you saying “Oh here we go again, do I have to listen to another sob story about a disgruntled employee?”. However the last thing I’m looking for is your sympathy or even a shoulder to cry on. I can write this post with a smile on my face and I will.
Some time ago I highlighted a quote (see here) and its stands true to this day. At the end of the day I should thank my current workplace for the experience they’ve provided me. The pain of the current situation has forced me to flick the switch and change. While the role hasn’t lived up to my expectations It’s forced me to reassess my life in all aspects, follow my dreams/passion and chase what I truly believe will make me happy.
Let me tell you though? Career Suicide has never felt so good, it shouldn’t feel this good, right?.
Why? Because even though I’m currently still attending my job I understand it’s a means to an end, a pathway to the future you could say. I’m excited to wake up (or get home) because when I do I get to focus on what I love with who I love. I don’t mind if have to work all night because I’m in complete control of my own destiny. In fact, most of the time I have to convince myself that it’s time to go to bed. Nobody but myself can stand in my way and that’s exactly the way I like it.
I could look back at the past 7 years and kick myself for not starting something sooner but as my mother might say “regret is a wasted emotion“. At the end of the day I had to wait for my time. Don’t worry careers are like cats, they have more than one life! In fact you can resurrect it and change it as many times as you like as long as you’re open to it.
Why don’t I just quit? Well in most cases it might be the same reasons as yours. This post isn’t about my fears or my reasons for not quitting but merely an acceptance for the path forward its providing. Change is occurring everyday and I look forward to the day I can tell you to “Make the jump” because a whole new world is waiting for you.
“I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Tim Ferris
The great part of all of this is that I found you. A community of people, books and blogs celebrating your passions and chasing alternative ways of living. Living the life you dreamed and experiencing life for all it’s worth.
No longer do I walk alone.