One of my favorite bands, other than KISS of course, is Fountains of Wayne. Good, strong music with well written, and often humorous lyrics always get to me, so the first time I heard them (outside of the well-known “Stacey’s Mom”) I was hooked. On the same album, “Welcome Interstate Managers”, was another song that for some reason connected with me. It wasn’t because I worked at a finance company, or rode the train, or was even a sales rep, but the song “Bright Future in Sales” had the chorus …
If I make it out alive I’ve gotta get my shit together
Cuz I can’t live like this forever
But I’ve come so far and I don’t wanna fail
I’ve got a new computer and a
Bright Future in Sales
It had two meanings. I spoke of a guy that was in a dead-end job which he hated, but one he also could not leave because he had “come so far and couldn’t fail”.
I have been feeling like this for a long time. Not only my training, but in my personal and professional life. But lets talk about my professional life for a second.
Running away from a problem only increases the distance from the solution
If you did not know, or are a new reader, after ten years in the Navy I left to pursue my education. My initial intent was to get a degree in psychology and apply to the FBI. The first part of this was accomplished, I got my BA in Psychology (along with a minor in Philosophy), but my dream of entering the FBI as a profiler was dashed after the third step of the application process. It tuned out that I would be over the age limit by the time I would graduate from Quantico. So I was left with a degree that, to be honest, everyone has, with no real plan on what to do with it. During my last semester I took an Ad Hoc position with a small Community Services agency in Orlando and while there met a woman who was working on a Masters in Public Administration. I had never heard of this, but after talking to her, and coupled with the fact that I really liked working in that area, I decided to apply. And got in. Two years later I left UCF with my BA and an MPA. I worked in a few non-profits, moving from DeLand to Tampa in the process when I was afforded the opportunity to attend graduate school on scholarship at USF to get an MBA.
To be even more brutally honest, I had little interest in an MBA, but the idea of education always intrigues me (especially for free), and the thought of having a business degree along with a non-profit degree gave me the idea that I could make more money. Any decision … ANY DECISION … made solely on money is a bad idea. I know that now … I did not know that then. I got my MBA, which did not bring the wealth I envisioned, and actually led to me having to leave a position that I enjoyed because I was not, in my opinion, receiving the proper respect for what I brought to the table. This may have been true, but it was a bad move. I left to go to a larger company for the money … quite a bit more money … and knew within two weeks I had made a big mistake. The respect I thought I was not getting at the non-profit was magnified 100 fold at the hospital … because I was not … a doctor.
Survival depends on what you do, not what you think
I ended up losing that job as well, due to a bone headed decision on my part (see a pattern emerging?) and went through almost year of unemployment resulting in bankruptcy and Wells Fargo taking my house. After a year of job hunting, and only one interview, I was finally offered a job. It was at half of what I made at the hospital … but it had been the only job offer in a year, and I was in no position to barter. So I took it. It’s a brain-dead job. About a year in they hired a new manager for my group, a position that they would not allow me to even interview for. She was 28 years old and had no management experience. When I asked what on paper this candidate had that I did not, the answer was “she’s an accountant”. Now, this position was not an accounting position … it was a project management position … so of course this does not hold water, but I was not in a position, once more, to argue. Suck it up .. keep plodding forward.
At 53 years old, I am not in a position to start over … I have obligations … I have responsibilities. I have made a number of changes recently and am on my own for the first time really in my life. When I do test the job market I still get the same responses I did when I was looking before; over qualified.
Even when we do not actively participate in our destiny, we are still on a chosen path. Life has a way of making decisions for us
A co-worker asked me once when we were discussing a leadership shift what I would do if I could do anything. Interesting question. The truth is I do not know. The happiest time I have had in the past ten years is the period I was out of work. I know how that sounds, but hear me out. If you take the money out of the equation, I would get up at 5:00 AM, get my son up and take him to school, go to Starbucks and job hunt until 11 or 12, then head back home, grab my gear, and go train until 3 or 4, then go home, cook dinner, do some writing, go to bed. I was rested, well-trained, losing weight and … happy. The only true happiness I have these days is when I am writing this blog, researching for a Fat Slow Triathlete podcast, Working on my athletes training plans, or training. Now I know “at least I have a job” (a saying which I detest, by the way) and should be thankful, and in some ways I am, but I know how I feel and I cannot make myself like what I am doing. Yes, I have occasional days that are not so bad, like when everyone leaves me alone and I could just pull and manipulate data. I like that kind of stuff.
I know most people don’t like their jobs. I mean, there’s a reason it’s called “work” right? I was talking to my son once, who is still floundering trying to find his way, and he said something to me that hit home a bit. “Dad”, he said, “my biggest fear is to end up working in a job I hate for the rest of my life, like you and Mom.”
I envy people who enjoy their jobs. I know it’s a job and no job is perfect, but I also believe there are people working that have more good days than bad. I also know there are people at my office that enjoy the job here too. It’s just not me … but to go looking now … and to make the money I need to survive … is not promising. So the best idea is to find something I can do on my own … go to work for myself. A good idea save for one thing …
… I heard the boss is an asshole ….