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The Rocky Road of Corporate Work

When my work equipment arrived for a job I was starting this past June I wasn’t excited at all. Over the years many delivers just like this one had come to my house. Each including instructions for setting up, logging in and beginning my journey with a new company. Usually I would open these boxes with anticipation and some excitement about the new adventure. Arranging my home office to fit the equipment and getting ready for my first day was not only preparation but aligned with my own desire to appear prompt and ready for my new role. This time though I felt nothing. It was just another box containing a laptop and instructions.

It was not the new job’s fault necessarily. In fact it was a good job that paid well, had unlimited vacation time and a moderately decent health insurance package. It was a work from home position with some travel and I had been able to negotiate down on the travel percentage to approximately 25-30%. My manager seemed like a good guy too, older and kind from all that I could tell at this point. All good characteristics of a job these days and yet I felt no excitement, anticipation or even hope at beginning this new job. Instead I had thoughts like wondering how long this one would last and would I be able to take time off in September for a trip I had booked already. Nothing at all about the work, my job title as Director of something or responsibilities I would be assuming.

To this point I had changed jobs every few years for a variety of reasons just like everyone does these days. My longest stint at one was 10 years and my shortest 3 months with the average seeming like 2 to 5 years at most of them. spanning the last 30 or so years. Like most people too, I had moved around for pay increases that I wasn’t getting at my current job, ability to move up in career position and what presumably would be better in some form or another. I had even been sought out a couple times which had felt good for being recognized for my work accomplishment.

This latest move though was the result of an abusive manager and toxic work environment that impacted my health. It also gave me a raise that I was told my prior employer couldn’t give me because I was already at the top of my pay scale for the past two years, despite my stellar performance and willingness to always take on more. I should have been relieved and glad of this change and I was for the release of toxicity and thankful for the salary increase I rightly deserved but the thought of starting over again. It wasn’t fun anymore. I wasn’t looking forward to it no matter what motions I went through to make it seem like this great.

Looking at my career path I have indeed accomplished a great deal in terms of on paper successes and financial gains but inside I was tired. Those accomplishments didn’t mean much and probably wouldn’t be remembered by anyone but me in the long run. What did it all matter anyway when every couple years you had to move on to something else in order to get raises or get out of some situation that wasn’t healthy? Why bother seeking corporate growth beyond what it provided financially? The motivation of feeling good about what I was doing and how I was helping the company grow and prosper rather wasn’t a big enough reason anymore either. It wasn’t satisfying or fulfilling. It was just work. A job. Business.

Talking to a few of my peers who are also within my age range they said the same. One told me he couldn’t stand corporate work anymore and was just biding his time until retirement as fast as he could get there. He had recently gone into consulting within his industry just to seek a way to reduce the stress of it all from standard corporate jobs. Another was taking early retirement and preferred to work for minimum wage stocking grocery shelves in the middle of the night than to work another day in the corporate space. Even younger peers and people who reported to me as their manager said given the choice they too wouldn’t work like this. I wasn’t alone then. We all felt it and were living with the ramifications of harshness that exists inside the corporate space to make our paychecks come through. Regardless of industry too, we were all saying it.

It was more than exhaustion, though certainly burnout was real and many of us were suffering from it. I know I was and had been trying to relax in the week’s leading up to starting this new job. This was something bigger though that made chasing career growth, success for a company and the rewards of it not appealing or motivating. It was causing many of us to just