We teach our children from a very young age to pick a career. Almost all make believe play and school years are focused on selecting the career that is right for them. We have all invested a lot of time and money for education, training and resumes to position ourselves to the best companies and opportunities in hopes it will be a long lasting secure situation for us. More often than not though we will work for several companies in our career lifespan and experience a great deal of disappointment. Some of the hardest betrayal I have ever experienced as an adult has come through my career. People I put my trust in and companies I relied on that left me reeling with pain and questions about why. Working in corporate America will definitely give you more than job experience.
The aspiring career I thought I would have appears successful on paper at least. Emotionally and physically though corporate America has left a bitter taste in my mouth. In talking with my peers and colleagues who are around my age it seems many of us have this same taste. We seem to get to this point in our careers where advancement no longer is the goal and retirement and peace in our daily work is more important because of the brutality we have experienced to this point. Maybe it was the times I was betrayed that led to this or I was simply burned out but I couldn’t deny I felt done with investing in my career.
While I felt done with it and just wanted a quiet little job to finish out my working years I knew that wasn’t possible. For one I still had too many years to work before retirement. Working wasn’t the issue either but rather the career part of it was. I could no longer ignore the impacts my career had had on my family, my health an my mental well-being. The stress of my career had taken its toll on my life physically, emotionally and even financially. My spirit was broken when it came to caring about my career and what I once believed would be my legacy.
Since walking out and never coming back was not an option I needed a strategy. For one I started building my business on the side, in hopes it would reduce my time in my career and give me that exit plan faster. That is still it’s primary goal but I have found it also gives me the place to put all the energy I once gave to my career. It is an investment in myself that allows my creativity, passion for helping others and doing good in the world that also pays me. Anyone who thinks direct sales is a waste of time obviously has not experienced it in contrast to a career that is sucking the life out of them. Direct sales has saved my sanity.
The next thing I did was change jobs. I knew I would probably change jobs many more times before I retired so I made peace with it. The idea I could be at the company I would be at until I retired or that it was the perfect place for me to stay was a lost hope I stopped dreaming about. I went into my job knowing I was there to exchange my time for money. While I would do my best for them and give my energy, attention and time to making them successful I no longer counted myself in that picture when it happened. That way if I was included in the wins it would be a pleasant surprise instead of a betrayal and disappointment.
That attention shift also empowered me to think more in tangible terms of how my job could help me. It became a place where I went to earn what I needed to support my family, invest in my side business and in what I needed to live my best life, outside of work. I put boundaries around work so it stopped creeping into other areas of my life like weekends, vacations, and even weeknight family dinners. That fence gave me peace. I saw my stress go down and I kept my sanity.
Maybe these are not the biggest revelations you were expecting to find in this blog but they gave me the control back in my career. I started to see my career as a tool to help me live a life I wanted rather than a career path defined by the company I was working for at the time. I set my own goals for what I wanted out of the job and what it would help me achieve personally and professionally. It changed from how I was helping that company to how I was helping myself.
Selfish? Not at all when you consider how many of us have to leave a job after 2 to 4 years because of restructuring, layoffs, toxic and abusive environments, lack of opportunities to advance and no pay raises. When you start to realize how little of your vacation time you actually get to use without working you realize just how little the company is actually caring about you. When you go multiple years without a raise and yet see stock prices increase and senior leader bonuses still being paid you realize your value is not what you once thought at that company. When you work for a screamer and do all you can to please them and yet you get blamed for their shortcomings you realize it is not worth it anymore either.
Until corporate America starts actually practicing what they promote in terms of having cultures that are fair, inclusive, respectful and appreciating of their employees it is up to us to look out for ourselves. Most corporate environments are not setup to be of advantage to you but rather the stock price, shareholder values and senior leader pay. When your CEO makes double digit millions a year like the ones I have do and you’re getting no raises because they don’t have budget for it, there’s a problem. I promise you the CEOs I have worked for still got their bonus and increases those years too. Stop falling for the lie and shift your focus to how you can not only survive but thrive physically, emotionally and financially in corporate America.
If you’re ready to see if having your own business on the side is the right opportunity for you, let’s chat at dragonspsitapothecary.com