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Beyond the Paycheck

I had dinner recently with some co-workers from out of town. We were all together for a day long meeting. Due to flights it worked out that 3 of them were able to stay an extra night and we used it to share a meal together. One of these individuals I have known for years and we’ve worked together at a couple different companies now. It’s lucky when you have those people you love working with and can work with them in different companies like that. At the end of the evening as I walked to my car I realized how fortunate I am in so many ways when it comes to those types of connections.

Yes, my career is as unstable as the next persons. I try not to get too comfortable because you just never know when things will go sideways and you’re out. Many of us work that way. We focus on doing our job, making the best of it, knowing at any time it could all be upside down with massive changes that impact us. Losing a job you like, even love, is definitely one of the top hurts I’ve felt. Not only are you losing a good salary and benefits but you lose that connection with people you like or at least have learned to work with to keep things going. If you’re lucky you have a couple connections who reach out to you when they know of another job, you do the same for them, and you can reconnect like this friend I had dinner with recently.

While the advice during those times is everything works out as it should and I believe that’s true, there are impacts from these experiences that stick with you for a very long time.

I talk a lot on this blog about job insecurity. We all face it every day. Most of us will have at least one time in our career where leaving a job is not by our choice. While I have uncomfortably learned everything eventually turns out ok it doesn’t make it easier when it is happening in the moment. Not only are you losing the income, benefits and stability but you often lose the connections with those you are around every day. It’s very lonely, scary and full of anxiety. I would rank these experiences as some of the most stressful I’ve faced. Regardless of your salary there is always a nervousness of where you will find another position quickly. Then there is the question of it you’ll like it.

With over 75% of people reporting they don’t like their jobs, it’s safe to say we’re doing them for the pay and benefits. We stick around because we haven’t found something else, are not motivated to go through the process of looking again, and there are people who make where we are tolerable at least. I believe given the choice most of us would choose something different to spend our time and earn an income. Maybe that would be a job in a company we think is perfect for us or maybe it’s in our own business. I believe in general no one is really against working but that most of us would prefer a greater balance in work-life and more direct control of the work we perform. I think this is why the allure of being your own boss is so appealing. The interesting aspect of this is we do have a choice but most are more comfortable being miserable and at risk than taking that chance.

I realized through my own business I may lose clients but overall if you do a good job and people need what you offer those losses are rare. Also, you develop those same type of relationships that we love in our jobs. We have suppliers, business partners, collaborators and others who over time become those people we adore working with because they are good, reliable, honest people just doing what is right like us. Like anything else it is not a perfect situation all the time and as the boss you have direct control and impact of everything but it is rewarding, fulfilling and inspirational in ways I’ve never felt in my job. I can promise you the times I’ve had to get up at 5AM for a flight or work late into the night for my job I was never filled with as much motivation as I am when it is for my own business.

In balance though the wise old words of telling us to find what we love and then we’ll never work a day in our lives is somewhat bs. There are things in every type of work that are things we don’t directly love. My dislike of them all is always researching hashtags. I swear the # sign is my least favorite modern day social media element. Yet I do it because i