I have had more jobs than anyone I know. I’ve never been satisfied with any job I’ve ever had and I couldn’t figure it out for the longest time. I’d get really excited about starting and loved to learn all the ins and outs of a new place. Then I’d get totally bored and quit. One of my teachers in high school told me my problem was that I was inherently lazy. I didn’t really have an argument to refute that. I always did ok when I applied myself but I didn’t apply myself much. I just couldn’t get myself to buy into the idea of busy work.
I got my first real job when I was 15 as a bagger at my local grocery store. The novelty wore off after about 6 month and I quit. In a few short years I had worked as a telemarketer, shoe salesman at a sporting goods store, customer service for a satellite tv company, door to door salesman (vacuums), busser at 2 restaurants, vinyl baseboard installer, video store clerk, lawn mower, survey taker, tech support, IT director, quality assurance, and a few others. I’ve done a lot of things, some of them more than once. Up until I was 24 I had never worked somewhere longer than 6 months. I’d hear people talking about how they had been at a company for 5, 10, 20 years and I just couldn’t understand it. To me it always seemed like I was there to do a job and the second the company had any problem with me I’d be gone. So why should I give them the benefit of the doubt if it was only going to go one way?
I knew people who had bankable skills and I’d always ask why they didn’t go into business for themselves. The answer was inevitably that they wanted the security of a regular job. They wanted to know when their next check was coming in. The problem with this logic is there’s never a guarantee. Companies can and do get rid of people at the drop of a hat. Don’t believe me? I’ve got some stories for you.
After years of switching jobs whenever the winds changed I finally got a job that I liked. No it was a job I loved. I was helping people and it really seemed like it was a place I could work for indefinitely. About 2 years in I had a small disagreement with a manager about a payroll issue. I talked with him about it and tried to work it out but he wouldn’t budge. So I talked to payroll about it and they sided with the manager. Three months later I got fired. My theory was confirmed. It didn’t matter what I had contributed to that company, I was 100% replaceable and they replaced me.
It happened again at a company I had been at for 5 years. For the last year of the job I was put in charge of marketing for a product that had been on the back burner. In that year I exceeded sales projections by $750,000 and built a recurring revenue of $20,000 a month on top of that. I was riding high on that success, asked for a raise and was denied. I was upset but got back to work.
A few months later I was reading about flexible work and results only workplaces. It made so much sense to me that people should be paid for their contributions to the company no matter when or where they did the work. The CEO of this small company was a big 9-5 guy and was really particular about no work from home. But he was also a family man who seemed to genuinely care about his employees’ well-being. So I put together a presentation for him showing all the benefits of switching to a system like this. Increased productivity, decreased turnover, better health for the employees. It seemed like a win win. During the presentation he was nice and said that he thought it was a good idea and he would probably implement it at some point in the future but not now. According to my direct supervisor, immediately after I left the CEO’s office he called my boss and said, “We need to get rid of Jed.” Two months later on my 3rd child’s due date I was laid off.
I’m not saying all this to whine about where I am in life. Both of these jobs ending led me to find higher paying jobs. The point of these stories is to say I dedicated my life to these companies. I worked hard for them and was constantly thinking of ways I could help out. The second my vision didn’t align with theirs I was gone. My loyalty meant nothing. When the business isn’t doing well it is not the c-level execs getting their pay cut or laid off, it’s you. So why would you be loyal to them? It’s insane. My story isn’t unique, there are thousands of people who have had the same thing happen to them.
So the security argument is out the window. Any job can be gone at any time. Loyalty doesn’t get rewarded and no matter what you think, you’re replaceable. So what can you do? The answer is something you actually care about. Don’t let yourself be stuck in a job you hate for the rest of your life in the name of security. It hurts your soul and actually has physical side-effects. Side effects like, weight gain/loss, illness, anxiety, depression have all been linked with being unfulfilled at work.
Take it from Jim Carrey. You can fail at something you hate so the only option is to do what you love.