Work is really important for a few reasons. Firstly, it takes care of our money, which covers our basic human needs (such as food, water, and shelter). Without work, how would we pay for these things?
Secondly, your work life can either help (or impede upon) certain areas of self-development. Primarily, it can give you insight into what makes you happy (or what doesn’t), and can even help you find a sense of “purpose” for your day to day activities.
When you work a 9 to 5, or even a full time 24/7 business owner’s hustle, that takes up a LOT of time over the years (90,000 hours, on average – or 33% of your time).
That means that it’s really important to make what you’re doing meaningful to you – otherwise you may just get trapped in a job you loathe because you become overly comfortable with it.
I worked in the banking industry for a little while at a Credit Union. I love the Credit Union Co-op model – it really is the next-generation of business models and I’m excited to see how many businesses take the co-op route. If you don’t know much about Co-ops, I suggest you check out this site (insert link). It’s the model of the future.
Despite this, I was still unhappy in my work place.
I was surrounded by people who (although wonderful) became glued to their office chairs. Their original plan may have initially been a year in banking. Then it became two, then there may have been a promotion which seemed great at the time, and then three years… Then 10, 12, and upwards.
The downside to this is that there’s only so much you can do in the banking world, only so far you can advance when working up the ranks, before it ends. Of course, the cycle of senior lenders and management and CEOs and CFOs is an ever-spinning wheel (even though it may sometimes be slow), but odds are, people are in that more for the money than the personal experience or bliss it brings them. Maybe it is ideal for some people, and that’s okay.
To others, though, it’s just another societal matrix that we are apt to get caught up in because the “successful” rewards that we gain (raises, promotions, fancier offices, higher level of job security, etc) seem to be what’s important at the time of their offering.
However, I saw people who did not love their jobs. They spent the days wishing for Friday or their next day off, what have you. I think this is normal to a degree, we all like to have time to ourselves, free of pressure, free of responsibility, nothing else needed but relaxation and perhaps some fun… but if you are hating what you do SO much that you wait to be released from it, maybe you are spending 33% of your life without a bigger picture. Maybe you’re too tired or stressed to give affection or attention to your loved ones when you go home. That’s no bueno.
The issue becomes, we forget to have fun if we work in an environment that is draining. We get so caught up in our day to day job tasks that we become a cog in the machine of life – going to work, staying there 9 to 5, making the commute home, cooking dinner, watching tv, cleaning up, going to sleep… And the cycle repeats and repeats and repeats (and then we wonder why we are in such a collective state of angst).
There are lots of perks for staying in the same job for an extended period of time – it proves you to be reliable, a “face” for the place where you work (which customers love), and someone your employer can count on for years. But it can be easy to become “stuck” in that job you hate so much.
I was really afraid of that.
So i ejected myself from the self-destructing passenger’s seat of the banking world and crash landed into the drivers seat of my life. I left that job which seemed to be so dead end (even amidst all the “opportunity” that awaited me) and took on two part time jobs instead of that one full time teller position.
I started working at a food co-op and an Inn & Tavern. I’m surrounded by interesting people all day – people who want to revolutionize the world and who can help me do it too (and I can help them, too, once I get a lil more knowledgable about the matters that need repairing).
I’m frequently delighted by foreign and out of state visitors: people traveling here to ski, or to visit Vermont’s history, or pay homage to their hometown or their families. I’ve heard many stories; stories of covens, suicide, biker gangs, shop-owners and entrepreneurs, tales of Scotland, ancient cannibalism (and why you can’t eat human brains), and the list continues… all in the past two months of my life. Topics which had never been touched on before were suddenly unearthing themselves. I’ve felt that I’ve been growing and changing, and oh-so-happy to be.
I’ve seen tinges of melancholy and relief in aged eyes, been hugged and pondered by curious children, spent dinners with strangers, went for long walks in small cemeteries, opened up to people I hardly know, put myself out there, been vulnerable, been surprised, and have done it all very happily.
I’ve been working 20-30 more hours per week, and have even still been exceptionally happier.
This is because I feel like I’m a part of something greater than myself – not so much a cog in a machine. I’m not a gear turning and spinning and moving and working for something else entirely. I’m in the same place I’ve always been for the time being, but somehow don’t feel stagnated anymore. I can feel growth. It’s warming.
I almost stayed at the Credit Union for much, much longer. It was secure. It was safe.
But I’m really glad I left.
There is always another way. You don’t have to be stuck doing something you can’t stand to wake up and go to every morning… And you shouldn’t.