There I was, making six figures, successful by most standards, but totally unhappy with work, trying my hardest to push that feeling away that kept screaming "I want to do something else!!"
If you have a successful career but walking away from it scares the crap out of you, do yourself a solid and think about why that is. Is it status, social esteem, or the perception of respect around that particular career what's actually holding you back?
'What will people think?'
'I've worked so hard to get here!'
'That would be such a waste of all this time I've put into this...... and the skills I've acquired........'
'Starting over now definitely wouldn't be a smart or responsible thing to do.'
The struggle is real for those of us who are doing really well on paper in our careers but who are totally unfulfilled at the same time, searching for something else, something that'll give us way more with our potential.
We are socialized from a very early age to believe that we are defined by our career choices
In high school what's the most common question an adult asks a teen? "So what are you going to do after you graduate?" In my experience, they were expecting an answer that usually involved a university education and a clear career path. I don't know about you, but when I was 17 years old I had NO idea what I wanted to be, so I usually went with lawyer. That social pressure and expectation was there so I declared the university I would attend and the path I would take to get to this prestigious career. People were always impressed by that, they gave me a huge smile and their big vote of confidence, and the questions would stop. Perfect.
Once we get a bit older, we realize that most of the so called 'top professions' maybe aren't the best after all. Lots of high paid jobs have endless hours at work, they are super high stress and usually health or home life suffers as a result. Don't get me wrong, some people love these jobs and that's totally cool, we definitely need those people, but for those of us who have found ourselves in them, and then are looking for a different way, it's tough to break away from it.
Social esteem is basically your profession, position or level of income
How much prestige does your position carry? Otherwise how much money do you make? Both score you big points. The numbers on your paycheck can make up for your position if you make enough $$$. I once overheard my husband’s friend telling another guy that I was making six figures and how lucky Reece was that he was married to a girl with that kind of income. Social esteem scoring was hard at work and I passed.
I sold commercial insurance for a living, mostly in the oilfield and construction sectors. Most people hate insurance. I’d say it’s right up there near the top as one of the most disliked industries out there, BUT if you are successful financially in it, people thinks it's a very smart career choice. Too bad I didn't like the actual job.....
Everyone plays the “so what do you do?” game
The ranking that social esteem provides in our society is crazy if you think about it. What's the easiest question we ask when meeting someone new? "What do you do?" We think it's an easy way to start a conversation but really we're all just out there sizing each other up.
I’ve had lots of different jobs already in my life from waitressing to working my way up the corporate ladder sitting in lots of different seats along the way. I always noticed how people reacted when I told them what I did. I found they were very “oh that’s nice dear” when you were waitressing or answering phones but it’s a very different reaction when you state your position and it's something think didn't expect in business, or something that makes a lot of money. I really enjoyed as a female having a high paid career that gave me that respect I desired whenever I played the 'so what do you do' game. It somehow justified what I was doing.
What you do for money always affects your life
I often hear people say ‘it’s just what I do for work’. I hit the BS buzzer on this every time! I don’t know anyone who isn’t affected by what they do for money. It doesn’t matter what job you have or what profession you are in, the environment you are in all day 5 days a week for years and years will affect you. I was always hearing from friends, acquaintances or pretty much anyone I met who knew 'what I did' about the horrible experience they had had with insurance claims or people, or how insurance companies were all a bunch of crooks. Super! I was a broker who was representing those companies.
I’m someone who takes pride in doing my job well and for the right reasons so eventually that kind of stuff got to me. I was also in sales which was very well paid but also super high stress and that affected me a lot too. My health was not a priority for me and I was too busy to worry about it. My relationships also suffered because I figured they'd be there later when I had time (good thing I'm married to the right guy who waited for me to figure this work/life balance thing out).
We live in a world where making money feels like the whole point
Everyone and everything else takes a back seat. Can you relate to being in a job that always comes first and is often mixed with negativity, deadlines, and being ON all the time? It doesn't leave a lot of room to be happy and healthy.
If you’re in a high pressure sales or corporate career, I’m willing to bet you're running on coffee and adrenaline more than anything else. We fool ourselves into thinking we love what we do when we’re in successful roles because we've 'made it' and people around us think we are doing so well which props us up artificially. That’s only our egos talking, feeding us a bunch of crap.
The problem for lots of us is that one day we wake up, catch a different perspective for just a split second and find ourselves successful at something we don’t like, or worse, becoming someone we don't recognize. People spend more time choosing their options on a minivan than what their career will give them other than money.
Why not choose a lifestyle based on what’s important to you first and then look at the income options that can give it to you. Is it travel, time with kids or family, putting your health on the priority list for once, financial security, having extra time and money so you can volunteer or work for a not-for-profit? Whatever your ideas are for a fulfilled life, choose a business that can give you those options.
Sometimes you need to take a step back to see where you're at
I didn’t realize it fully until I left corporate but I hated working all the time (I used to be so proud of it). I felt like I was doing something so important yet I constantly had my heart skip a beat when my email on my phone would ding in the evenings, on a Sunday morning or when I was away on holidays, dreading having to look at it because I might have to deal with something huge for a client, but absolutely never avoiding it because well..... I might have to deal with something huge for a client.
I forgot what it was like to drive down a road and not have that pang of anxiety hit me because I should be cold calling all the businesses I was seeing, especially in the industrial parks along the highway. This literally ran through my head all the time 'quick grab a pen, write those down, did I call enough new prospects this week, this month? What are my numbers? No, not enough, I need to be doing more......' Never enough.
I can't say I miss that part at all.
You have a choice and you can do it differently if you want to
This summer while I was at the lake with my family for 3 weeks, totally happy and relaxed, I realized how much I love what I’ve already changed for myself and my family. We travel quite a bit so I often take a couple of hours here and there when we’re away to work, and the response one day from someone I didn’t know well was “oh that sucks, you have to work? It’s the long weekend!” I just laughed because I don’t notice long weekends so much anymore (other than the traffic). Half of the time I honestly don’t know what day it is and have to check my phone. Besides that, I love to work, it charges my batteries. It gets me pumped up about life and new possibilities and what is coming next. A couple hours of focused effort while you’re in paradise still means you are in paradise for the rest of the day when you’re done, which is pretty friggin’ awesome if you ask me.
What if you could put your social esteem aside temporarily and do something outside the box
What if you did something that would allow you to live and work the way you want if you had no limitations? Does whatever you do right now give you that chance, honestly?
Think about it. What if you could set that crap you think other people think aside and go after something you want instead of something that sounds good to people you don't even know. If you want to build a life and a business for yourself, you need to stop listening to the majority of your friends, peers, and family members around you who (no disrespect) are likely employees still working that corporate grind. Unless they are already living and working the way you want to, go find someone who is and ask them how, or read about how they do it. There is so much inspiration out there but you have to be open to it.
If winning the lottery is your plan...... make a new one!
Life’s too short, really it is
My husband Reece and I are planning a six month trip to Bali and a one year exchange with his career within five years to Australia. We are super excited about it and the kids will be old enough to remember it all which is awesome. Most couples can’t swing that because most families can't survive on one income or one person can’t give up their job and benefits. I building my business online so that I can be anywhere with wifi and still work.
I encourage you to write down what you want (or you can even start with what you don't want). You’re the only one who can make a change happen. Don't be scared, just start!
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. I am a real estate investor and was in corporate sales for over 10 years. My current business does not carry built in social esteem ranking but I'm ok with that because there isn't anything else out there that gives me this life that I want.
I may have lost my 'social esteem ranking' for now, but give me a couple of years and then ask me again what I do ;)
If you're looking to switch it up but don't know where to start, I'd love to connect. I want to work with other like-minded people and build our little empires of freedom and success together. What I do may or may not be for you but it certainly never hurts to just take a look and it'll get you started on whatever road you're heading down next.
Here's to a happy, healthy, beautiful life!