Last week, my brother emailed me this picture:
It’s hard to write about this topic and not seem ungrateful. Really, I am fortunate and proud to be employed, especially in my field of study out of college. Yet as much as I try to convince myself that I can like my job, I just–well–can’t.
It’s not college-to-workplace transition pains. I’m no stranger to early mornings and I expect work to be tough sometimes. It’s something more deeply rooted, as if I’ve set out down the wrong path and if I don’t make a change soon I’ll get in too deep to make a safe detour.
When I try to explain this to other people, I inevitably get tidbits of advice. They all are well-intended, I am sure, but rarely does one actually seem applicable. Here are my chronicles of the worst:
Just do what you love : Nope, not buying it. I love to color, but I can’t make a living doing the circle method or staying inside the lines. More likely than not, doing only what you love is not going to pay your bills. Make it better: Just do what you’re exceptionally good at. I’m with Marcus Buckingham on this idea 100%. It just makes so much more…sense…that channeling your strengths rather than your “likes or loves” will turn you into a dynamo.
You can be whatever you want to be: Again, this is a hard sell. This implies both the impossible and instant gratification. The impossible being that I want to be the next Nora Jones but I break windows when I sing. Also, being “whatever I want to be” requires time & monetary investments, additional education, and a stroke of luck. Yep, maybe someday I’d get there but it’s not going to happen overnight. Make it better: Given time & taking your God-given talents into account, you can become the best possible version of yourself.
Just scale back on your work hours: …because I wake up in the morning pumped for OT? The thing is, working a ton of hours wouldn’t be the issue if I didn’t have a lingering guilt for missing out on quality time with the people that matter. Make it better: Search for a job that allows you to strike the work/life balance that fits your situation. If you don’t have family nearby or a significant other, working 80 hours a week might be your “sweet spot”; for others, it may not be. My point is that the # hours shouldn’t be the issue. If you can find a balance where neither work nor home feels consistently cheated, who cares how many hours you work?
Get an accounting degree: I know that this one was well intentioned, and that the giver was just looking out for my future job security. Here’s the thing, though: even if I got an accounting degree and was “set for life”, it would still take me 4 times as long as the average CPA to arrive at the same (though correct) answer. Also, I’d make great personal sacrifices just to stay at a mediocre performance level. Make it better: Sorry, this piece of advice is a loser. And will continue to be a loser.