18 Apr Dead-end Jobs and Shitty Bosses
I used to sell mobile phones. Dressed in a purple shirt, I would tell my victims which handset had the most megapixels and why a 24-month contract was, in fact, better than a 12month contract. I was in no way passionate about it and I don’t think I met anyone else within the company that I worked, who was. I had some good bosses (shout out to Aziz) but for the most part, the stress on them to push our sales figures made them unlikeable at best. The top salespeople loved the money, of course, and sometimes it would seem like they loved the adrenaline rush of making a big sale, but it quickly faded as our monthly spreadsheets were filled and stock take was completed. FFS I’m boring myself even writing about it. No one loved it. Many of us hated it. Nobody ever seemed to quit.
One of the most addictive things in the world is a pay cheque. Billions of people around the world are miserable right now. They’re in a cubicle doing unrewarding tasks, they’re in a factory working their fingers to the bone or they’re at an office party, smiling politely to Janet when really they can’t fucking stand Janet. They put up with it all because they’re addicted to their paycheque. How much are you putting up with for the sake of the golden nuggets deposited in your bank each month?
Fortunately, my phone shop gig was only part-time. I always said I would never get a proper job so I never committed to anything full-time until it was my own business. After working part-time in a couple of places I saw how trapped the full-timers were. We spend a third of our life at work. A THIRD OF OUR LIFE. If you’re not doing what you love then you’re missing a trick.
Are you happy?
In her book ‘The Art of Asking’ Amanda Palmer shares an anecdote that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I read it;
“A farmer is sitting on his porch in a chair, hanging out.
A friend walks up to the porch to say hello, and hears an awful yelping, squealing sound coming from inside the house.
“What’s that terrifyin’ sound?” asks the friend.
“It’s my dog,” said the farmer. “He’s sittin’ on a nail.”
“Why doesn’t he just sit up and get off it?” asks the friend.
The farmer deliberates on this and replies:
“Doesn’t hurt enough yet.”
I’ve been the dog. I’ve also been the farmer and watched friends who are enduring pain, or worse; boredom and routine, because it just doesn’t hurt enough yet.
How to Escape
If you’ve always dreamed of a creative career, doing something that you love and you’ve just realised that you’re the dog then don’t worry, you can make a change. It’s time to throw your computer out the window, punch Gerard in the face and tell your boss what you *really* think of her. Do that in your head, then do this instead; make an escape plan.
Start a ‘side hustle’, something you love that you’d like to eventually do full time. It could be a Game Of Thrones podcast, it could be a blog about Lego, it could be dressmaking, it could be painting. Whatever it is, it’s 2019, so you can make a career out of it if you’re smart. If it’s bubbling away in the background while your day job pays the bills there will come a point where you’ve built an audience around what you’re doing, and you might think about going ‘all in’.
We all have responsibilities; rent, a mortgage, kids maybe. Leaving your current situation in a blaze of glory and going ‘all in’ on your passion is a cool story but it rarely works out well. As creatives, we’re famous for our lack of planning but planning will set you free. If you’re in debt work out how you’re going to pay it off; Rob Moore has a great book called ‘Money’ that talks in depth about ways to do this. Work out how much you need to survive. Write a list of your incoming and outgoing expenses. And here’s the best advice you’ll ever get, spend less than you earn. Stop buying stupid shit that you don’t need (but allow yourself one or two treats per month).
Once you’re debt-free start saving. Save enough to comfortably live on for the next 6 months. Now when you leave your job you’ll have a good buffer that will take the pressure off of your new venture. This ‘buffer’ will allow you to make mistakes, to experiment without the pressure of hiding from your landlord. To get to this stage will take some people a couple of years. It seems like a long time and it will involve some sacrifices – but a couple of years now, could shape your entire future. Some people will sit on the nail forever but if you plant the seeds today, in five years you’ll be sitting under a tree!