The wise old saying about taking the roads less traveled is of course about taking risks, being yourself and finding your own way in life. It is deeply about decision making that invites us to consider the off beaten opportunity. Well meaning advice that is timeless and relevant. People make decisions every day. From what blouse to put on to multi-million dollar sales decisions. Making decisions are the foundation of our existence it seems leading to what we hope will be a happy and fulfilling life. The road of these decisions bringing the unexpected element of surprise based on our own tolerance for uncertainty and risk.
Given their importance it is little wonder why we worry about making the right decision and have the wonder if thoughts of choices we didn’t pursue. Sometimes even a little regret for not being brave in the moment of making a certain decision that may have led to somewhere else in our life. Some say regardless of our decisions we still end up on a cosmic path we were meant to travel. Others think we control our own destiny driven through these decisions that mark the major milestones in our life. The roads leading to these decisions are often circumstance and manifestation of our own prior decisions too.
I have taken both the safe decision route and the more unknown risky route at points in my life. At times I made well informed decisions and others I had to go with the gut feeling about things. When it comes to my career I have learned to trust my gut feeling a great deal in decision making. Over time I have gained enough experience to know when my gut feeling is spot on and when I need to dig deeper to make the decision in front of me. You don’t always know though and making those decisions based on where you are at the time and what you do know is the best there is at times. it can be stressful and a lot can be at stake based on that choice. A mere choice changing small and large things that impacting our very livelihood.
There are a lot of games played in the corporate space. This makes decision making increasingly difficult whether it is about your next career move or something related to a project you’re doing. It sometimes feels like you’re being tested to prove yourself to others with the promise of rewards that may or may not actually come later. I am guilty of following the wrong advice when it comes to these situations. Trusted advisors I thought were leading me to the right place only to realize I was being played for their own gain. Not an easy situation at all but all to common in the landscape of where we work.
After a while I think we all get to the point we take the less traveled road and stop listening to most of the advice. Being burned a few times will do that to you. We develop our own sense of direction and make decisions that protect our own interests as much as possible. That is a sad reality of corporate work. The aspect that we must always be looking out for ourselves and our own interests because we are truly our own advocate there. This of course is the result of the lies, political games and corporate ruthlessness that caused the every couple years job changes, instability and unreliability most of us feel we have in our jobs.
There are a few that have gone down paths outside of the corporate world of course. Some failed and came back to corporate work resigning themselves to this being the only way to make a living. Others kept going and even made strides forward to being able to permanently step off the main road of corporations for their livelihood. I admit I am shocked at how few people attempt it at all. While miserable and full of uncertainty we don’t trust our gut feeling on this being something better, different or even possible in loosening the snare around us when it comes to what we do for work. Corporations have sold us this lie they are the only viable security and in most cases they are actually the least secure.
The forced time off I had from my doctor showed me exactly how much my job was impacting my health. Up to that point I thought I couldn’t do anything but push harder at it, fix the problems and get everything done. It was important, my company counted on me for what I did everyday in my job. This was how I supported our family. How could I not keep working harder and giving them my best even though it was not impacting my physical and mental health?
The truth was the 6 weeks I was away from my job showed me exactly how false I was about believing those lies. No one from management called to check on me or cared that I was out ill or why. It took months for me to regain my physical strength and be able to stop medication from my job. The company I was pushing myself so hard for hired 4 people to do the job I was doing and 10 of the 24 people who reported to me quit in a matter of weeks after I quit. Turnover continues to be high from all I have heard. The path I was on was leading to a breakdown impacting my physical and mental health and no one at my company who could have fixed it cared. They just replaced me with 4 new people and continue to replace people as they fall out.
It is hard to admit the road you are on is not the right one for you. We want to believe we’re doing all the things right and what we are doing matters. Maybe it does but most of the time, your name and what you do is forgotten as soon as you are gone and replaced. I couldn’t see it while I was in it either. Most of the time we cannot until we when we step away from it the view is very different. We see the forest from the trees and realize it is on fire. The signs were all there and we recognize them but we kept thinking the bucket we are using, the one with holes in it to haul water would be sufficient. It most of the time is not.
A hard toil of labor and time in exchange for money is a long road traveled until we are unable to do it any longer or are fortunate enough to retire. It feels like it steals our soul at times leaving us exhausted and numb. We all see it and feel it and yet we push on because it’s all we know. It is a hard yet familiar road and we are made to feel afraid of anything different. The idea we could have success anywhere else but a corporation seems like a pipedream. That’s just it though when we look at the successes we’ve had at our jobs we see how much sacrifice we’ve made for them that has left us wondering if it was even worth it. Perhaps it is not so much doing something different is a pipedream but rather how much we are willing to give up and lose for the potential success at a corporation.
If there is a silver lining from the pandemic, it is that more people are realizing this too. We are realizing the lie we were told about success only being possible in an office setting from cubicles. We are awakened to the fact that our lives our too controlled by the jobs and the working vacation is bullshit. We are also alerted to how much we have been giving up of our lives for a corporation we in turn cannot count on to be there for us. The Great Resignation is the result of all these things and more. We are realizing the path we have been following for our jobs needs to be changed to represent what is important in our lives. That is more than some title and promotion that comes from a job too.
If you are ready to explore another path then I invite you to consider what it means to start your own business. Something that can be done while you work at your job but that gives you power to define your own path long term. Let’s chat at dragonspitapothecary.com