Are You on The Career Merry Go Round?

I bumped into an old colleague of mine called Ian one lunchtime in a bar in the City. I worked with him back in 2001 and to say he had changed considerably would be an understatement. It wasn't until he called over to me that I actually recognised him. Firstly he was hugely overweight, looked much older than his years and was downing pints like they had called last orders. Within minutes he was telling me how much he hated his job, despised his superiors, and was deeply unhappy in not only his job but also his marriage and life in general. The ironic thing was he was doing the job he aspired to do when I worked with him some 15 years earlier. He was the finance director of a global insurance firm, earned close to £700,000 and oversee a team of two hundred people. He had all the trappings of success, big house in Surrey, Porsche 911, Range Rover, wife and two kids, and holidays each year to the most exclusive 5-star resorts, and yet he was deeply unhappy. 

After talking about himself for over half an hour, he finally got round to asking how I was doing. But I could see he would have preferred to continue moaning about his life. I gave him a brief overview, quitting my job in the City, traveling around the world and starting my own business. 'lucky you' he said. 'OK for some'. 'There's no luck involved' I said. 'It's called taking action and not settling for a life of misery'. It went completely over his head. 'You have enough money why don't you quit and start your own business, become a consultant or find another job'? He went on to explain that he couldn't because he only had nine years left until he could retire and receive his pension. I could feel my jaw literally drop. I was gobsmacked by his response. He was going to continue to work in a job he hated for the best part of a decade because he could retire and get his pension. And do what exactly? 'How many fucking decades do we get in our lifetime I pointed out. Eight if we're lucky. But once again it fell on deaf ears. 'I couldn't take the pay cut to start my own business' he said. 

When is enough enough?

I pointed out that earning 700k wasn't making him happy so wouldn't it be a better option to move jobs and take a pay cut and be happy and enjoy life. 'The wife wouldn't be happy mate' he replied. It sounded to me that she wasn't particularity happy now, but I'm no marriage counselor. We finished up and I noticed he had drunk six pints and yet this was on a Tuesday lunchtime. I dread to think what he puts away of an evening. I felt saddened for him that he in my eyes had given up on life. At least happy life anyway. 

Same excuse different person

I had a very similar conversation only a few months later when I bumped into an old school friend called Danny, who complained of near identical problem's yet lived a life that couldn't be more opposite than my old colleagues or was it? He was a bricklayer for a small building firm and earned £50,000 a year. He would knock off work at 4 pm each day and headed straight for the pub where he would down six to eight pints each evening, grab a takeaway on the way home for the family and then crash out on the sofa and repeat the same process most nights of the week. He was in a volatile relationship and hated his job. 'It's a fucking ball ache at my age' he said. He hated his boss and his fellow workman. Lived for the weekend and drank himself into a stupor each night and repeated the process of a weekend. 

Once again the initial conversation revolved around him and how bad his life was. Take away the salary and dirty work boots and he could have been a carbon copy of my old colleague Ian. The same first world problems and the same bloody excuses. When I asked why he didn't quit and move to a larger building firm where there would be more opportunity for career development and better working environment? Guess what his reply was?. 'I can't afford to take a pay cut'. I felt like saying that if he stopped boozing and buying takeaways every day he could easily afford to take a temporary pay cut. But I could tell by his body language that he would be on the offensive. When he got around to asking me what I had been up to, I played it down and just mentioned I had been traveling and was running a small media business. I had to laugh to myself with what followed - 'You've always been a lucky fucker even at school' he said. 'Some of us are born with it and some of us aren't'. 'Something like that' I replied. 

Growth comes from facing the fear of the unknown

When I was working in the City I was earning a decent six figure salary and spent a decent six-figure salary each and every month. I was unhappy, unsatisfied and unfulfilled. I disliked the people I worked with and looked at my superiors and thought to myself, do I want what they have? More money, flashier cars, and bigger properties. But ultimately the same old shit but a different day. My theory is, for what it's worth, is that it doesn't matter if you earn 50k or 500k you live a lifestyle aligned to your salary. And if you hate your job no salary increase or bonus is going to change that. Money really does become irrelevant but most people will use money as an excuse as to why they don't do something about it and take action. Stepping outside of your comfort zone for some people is just not an option, which is why some people just wonder through life aimlessly with no direction and never achieving their goals.

The question I asked myself one Monday morning as I dragged my arse out of bed dreading work was this - If I was to get a 100% pay rise would that make me like my job anymore? Would I suddenly like my colleagues and my superiors? The answer was a definitive no. Now take out the fact that I traveled around the world after quitting my job because I realise that isn't an option for everyone. But I took action, bit the bullet and started a business that I had a passion for. I went from earning lots of money to next to no money for the best part of two years. Did my life fall apart? No. Did I starve? No. What did happen was I became much happier, a nicer person to be around. My relationship improved, my health improved and I never woke up feeling depressed at the thought of having to go to work. And on top of that, I was working 12/16 hour days 6/7 days a week. Ultimately I was the happiest I had ever been even though I was financially poorer than I had ever been. But as the old saying goes - 

You can't put a price on happiness

So what's holding you back from creating a better quality of life? Working in a job you actually enjoy as opposed to one that pays the most money can and will improve the quality of your life. Be it a relationship, your health, and overall well-being and happiness. I am not saying you need to quit your job and pursue a drastic career change, far from it. Although why the hell not? Life is for living after all. What I am saying is that if you hate your job then the money becomes irrelevant. Taking a pay cut might mean downsizing, curbing your spending and possibly making some short term sacrifices but look at the bigger and consider your happiness over and above your pay cheque.  

Do don't want to end the up the richest person in the graveyard

Are you stuck in a job you hate? Feel free to leve a comment and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. Or hit me up on Twitter

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Damian King