I know I’m in the completely wrong career field. I do okay with it, get recognized and rewarded. However, it gets harder and harder every day to work here…my productivity, which has never been great, has slowly deteriorated. I know I was born to do other things. I’m afraid my downward trend at work may be an unconscious attempt at self-sabotage. I could take a stab at other career fields that interest me, but I get compensated well and I have a lot of financial obligations (some credit, mostly student loans). Plus, who doesn’t like to make some decent scratch? It would be very difficult for me to jump ship to a career field where I’d probably have to take a 50% or greater pay cut. What should I do?
The most difficult thing to do in life is to find your happiness. Considering that we spend approximately 33% of our lives sleeping and almost 25% of our week working, it’s no surprise that so many people are dissatisfied. Most of us spend our childhood having our families tell us that we “have to go to college” and “have to get a good job”. More often than not, we are given the directive but no real plan of action.
I was given the same orders growing up. So, I hurried up to get out of high school and go to college. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I failed out. My performance had little to do with whether or not I was smart or if I could apply myself. It had everything to do with my inability to see the benefits or the necessity of a college degree. A big part of it was that I just wasn’t ready to accept the slice of working-class pie that the world is offering.
The best advice I ever received from my stepfather was when he told me, “they don’t call it work for nothin’.” Truer words have never been spoken. If it was supposed to be fun, it would be called something else. It’s also the reason that we often feel that we were meant to do other things in life. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a desk jockey. (On a side note: I never dreamed of becoming a writer of an advice column) I dreamt of being an artist. I wanted to be the next Picasso or Rothko. And in a lot of ways, I still do.
At the same time, I need to be able to keep the lights on and food in the refrigerator. So like most of us, I walk the tightrope of life. It’s a hell of a balancing act to maintain. Every day, I want to get up and walk out but I don’t. I have to allow myself my moments to dream of setting my desk afire and feeling the explosions at my back. Then my phone rings and I am back to reality. I’m back to giving my all (well, 70% or so) to a company that doesn’t appreciate me as much as I wish that they did.
I’m right there with you buddy. I feel your pain brother. I’m willing to bet that like me the money was the worm on the hook. And just like the fish on a fisherman’s line, it sucks to know that every moment of your day you feel that you are being reeled in. When income is a driving force, it’s incredibly difficult to break free. Money doesn’t buy us happiness, it gives us options. More often than not, we choose the option that will provide the most positive feedback from our peers.
That’s the reason that we buy 80″ HD Televisions, 3 mpg mammoth SUVs, and 6 room houses that we can’t afford to furnish. We choose a lifestyle that solicits the WOWs. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. We become WOW junkies. We have to continuously go bigger and better to feed our addiction.
Like any addiction, we generally know what is going on, but we feel powerless to overcome it. We make excuses for why we can’t break away. For you, it’s that you have bills to pay. For some it’s because of family obligations. Still for others, it’s lack of education, training, etc.. At the end of the day it’s just excuses. The reality is that we’re always going to be in debt in some manner or another. What happens when you pay off your student loans? Sure, you might save a little or you might start applying this newly freed up income to your mortgage or car note; but more than likely, you’re going to find something else to spend it on. That’s a way of life.
There are really only two options that I could recommend if you truly feel that you have a greater calling. The first is to spend the time doing a little soul searching. Find what it is that you would rather be doing. Maybe you make a list that you can post on your bathroom mirror that you can look at every day. There is a good chance that you already know what you want to do and you just need to spend the time figuring out your plan of action. One key step to include in your plan of action is to learn how to live leaner or find ways that you can start surviving with less income.
This may be as simple as brown-bagging it for lunch and cooking at home, or it could be that you have to break out the scissors for your credit cards. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but it is definitely going to be worth it. The other option I’d propose is to slip on your jockstrap and take the leap of faith. By forcing yourself into a crisis, you are given the opportunity to get the most out of yourself. The instincts take over and you are not given the chance for your brain to out-think itself.
It’s not easy to find all of the pros when your life is constantly pounding you with the cons. Overcoming the fear of all of the consequences that a life change presents is in itself a monumental achievement. So let me present you with one question: Do the consequences of making a life change outweigh the consequences of living a life that is devoid of real happiness?
One key thing to remember is that your biggest allies in any life decisions will always be your family and friends. They will always support your choices when it comes to you finding your happiness. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and for their support. You’ll be surprised at how much strength and courage they can provide. This is because we all find happiness in seeing those close to us succeeding. In a way, seeing your friends succeed is in itself a small win for us.
Life is always going to be the 800 lb. gorilla on your back. It will always be the rain cloud over your head. But it does not mean that you can’t make a change and do what you need to do to find your happiness.
Anonymous, I thank you for your question and I wish you the best of luck in your life. Please keep me posted and abreast of your progress. Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled. Succeed or fail, you’ve got a life lesson ahead of you.
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