I wake up everyday wondering what my “why” is. Why do I do the job I do everyday? Does it provide me more than just a paycheck, health care and a place to go where I feel I’m making a difference? Do I come home feeling fulfilled?
Simon Sinek is the purveyor of the concept of “Why”. In his book “Start with Why”, he proposes a simple and profound philosophy: Why do you do what you do? How do you help others do the same? What drives you to making you create a life and career that fulfills you? (Read his book. He’s amazing, and my description can’t do his words justice.)
The work force has changed in the few decades since I graduated college. Rather than going for the safe and seemingly secure job, it’s become clear that nothing is safe nor secure. Money doesn’t grow in our bank accounts. Salary increases are not living up to inflation. Rents are stupidly high. We cannot build up the 401K plans provided by those who will cut us loose when budget figures don’t meet. If we lose health care, we are screwed.
In the advent of layoffs as probable options for companies, we are not able to grow careers under the mentor ship of our company executives unless we really focus on taking charge of our careers.
For introverts, like myself, who find it difficult to get out there and cultivate career goals, we don’t stand a chance.
And then, as we wander our way through the work week, counting down to Friday, some of us wake up and realize – we aren’t find our “why” in a paycheck because we are only at our jobs — for the paycheck.
When I was in college, I wanted to become a writer and producer. I wrote scripts, studied television and interned at NBC. When I graduated and went into the Reagan infused workplace of the 1980’s, I went the conservative route. I became an Assistant – just to get my foot in the door of a major television network. The rest would take care of itself, I thought. I’d stay and work hard until someone recognized my accomplishments. My own network will grow, and I’ll apply for work that will lead me toward a job on a show. From there, I’ll offer my writing services, learn, work late hours, grow, build relationships.
What actually happened was this. I was laid off 4 times in 7 years. Instead of growing my path, I kept getting knocked off it. Fearing long unemployment, I went for and grabbed any assistant job within the industry – just for the paycheck. Just for somewhere to go that made me feel productive in society. Just to at least try my hand at my plan with another company.
I didn’t do the work after hours to gain my writing career, nor my production aspirations. My days were spent safe. Sound. Bored. Earning. Learning. But learning what?
Learning that after all those years – I fell asleep at the wheel.
30 years later – YES – 30 years – I’m still an assistant. I never ever wanted to be one. I didn’t work my college years writing and getting good grades thinking, “I really want to be an assistant!”
Yet, it happened.
Because I never really believed that what I wanted to do was going to happen for me.
Because no matter how hard I tried in the past, I never won – like all those track meets at school where I’d train and train my ass off to exhaustion – only to come in dead last all the time. I thought winning was just completing the race no matter the standing. But I didn’t realize that idea had done some slow burner damage to my self esteem.
It’s easy for us to do this. And it’s easy for us to run to the same damn thing over and over again just because we want a little of what we once had, or to just play it safe. The problem with that is – you run aground. Your anchor gets stuck in the marsh.
With all this self awareness flooding through me, and understanding that I’ve been in a deep sleep all these years, I’m starting to wake up. I’m beginning to clear away fear and trying to find that blue sky to freedom.
In this millennium, we need to rethink the way we decide to do life. Millennials, Gen X-er’s, Boomers – we’re all in this together. If life is a drag and your job sucks. Or if you’re unemployed and can’t find anyone giving a damn about your resume. Maybe you should think of changing the work force on its head and go out on your own.
I’m thinking this way now.
Although I’m grateful at the moment that I do have a job, I want to work my way into no longer being beholden to a company.
How do I do this? How do we all do this?
Create a message that one is passionate about. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem sings, “You’re a pushover for passionate people.”
Yup. Because they’re all we introverted 30 year veterans of futility have to wake us up to how to flourish from within so we can change our notion of living and how to live. And because I want to be passionate about something or else I will fold into myself and fall asleep in the snow and die of hypothermia. (Cue Liz Lemon).
Devise a logical and doable plan – to build your own thing. Your own business.
Do life you’re own way.
Help others – others who are not your age, not of your generation, not your race, not of your life, not of your sexuality or of you gender – and together – try to find a way to create something that leads you on the road to WHY.
As we have seen in the news – those in elected office who call themselves our leaders – aren’t going to do it for us.
We have to get started. There’s a lot of work to do.