Angel and I had an interesting conversation the other day regarding the natural uncertainty of life. We discussed the ever-changing fluctuations in our attitude toward past decisions and future goals. Some days it feels certain that we’re headed down the right path, and other times we feel completely misplaced. It’s a continual evolution of highs and lows characterized by the balancing of family, friends, work, desires, and aspirations. Dancing around this immeasurable playground, our thoughts, dreams, and ingenuity create the groundwork for our forward drive. There’s a long string of experiences and ideas that design a lifestyle we persistently attempt to reconcile in an effort to make more significant. As we react over the past and dream about our future together, we begin to understand who we are and where we intend to go. Our life presses forth as we stumble over the balance of simplicity and extravagant ambition.
My buddy A-town (Andrew) left a very intelligent comment in regards to my last post, “Perfect Rests in a Shade of Grey”. He discusses the idea of harboring personal skills and efforts with the goal of building your own enterprise. In other words: Get out of the rat race, stop trading hours for dollars, and start building a revenue generator of your own. Angel and I have discussed this idea on several occasions, and we have also shared these thoughts with some of our closest friends. Most of us will agree that pissing 50% of your life away fulfilling someone else’s initiatives pretty much sucks. All your efforts are feeding into someone else’s dream, and making them rich while you just grow older.
I’ve recenly been employed by two different successful start-up companies. The time spent at these companies has given me the opportunity to meet some really sharp people with clever business ideas. But, none of these people are the next Albert Einstein. These are average individuals who had an idea, nurtured it, and converted into a small enterprise. When I look around my inner circle I see genius. I see IT professionals, business/finance majors, sales/marketing managers, computer programmers, real estate gurus, information security analysts, etc. These people are brilliant, talented, skilled, and capable… and someday they need to unite in an effort to build a revenue generating dream of their own.
Here’s an excerpt from A-town’s comment:
…I think the best color for the middle ground we are looking for is the color yellow. Yellow is the odd ball. It’s out of the ordinary, something wild, something between white and black. I still think the only way to get everything you desire out of a job is to break out and start something yourself. Be out of the ordinary. Don’t just work a job like everyone else. Create a job that everyone else wants to be a part of…
Everyone is on the endless quest for utopia. We all want the perfect relationship, the perfect home, or the perfect job. It’s pretty common to hear someone spit out a canned phrase like: “You should be grateful for what you’ve been given!” I believe this statement holds truth… and I’m grateful. I know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and things could always be a lot worst. Yet somehow I still got caught off guard.
I recently made a career change, and I’m not saying I made a mistake, because I didn’t. My new career is pushing me in a positive direction. However, there has been a faint void in certain areas that used to be whole. These voids came unexpectedly because I never stepped back to absorb the big picture. I worked in a fast paced environment where the phones were always ringing, week long business trips for a Wednesday morning departure were planned on Tuesday night, and the deadline was always 10 minutes ago. Work weeks typically hit 55 hours… this wasn’t just a job, it was a lifestyle. I felt overworked and underpaid… the sentiment of being a day late and a buck short 99% of the time.
My colleagues and I yearned for a break and dreamed of a job that wasn’t so demanding. We unanimously agreed on a framework for the perfect job. Daily tasks would be based on extremely long term goals, only 15% travel time, the phones would rarely ring, no more working weekends, a 20% raise, and the job should consume a whopping 38 hours each week. This all seemed far fetched… Of course, that was until I landed a new job that fit the sketch of our dream.
I’m not dreaming. I’ve been working at my new job for 3 months now and it fits the sketch to a T. It meets all the bullet points of our “perfect job” framework. At first I was ecstatic… life seemed blissful. But then a subtle irk arose, a slight feeling of stress and discomfort. Certainly I couldn’t be feeling overworked and underpaid. So what was it? The phones don’t ever ring. I’ve been sitting in the same chair for 3 months and receiving praise from my superiors. I’ve never been told to work over the weekend. There haven’t been any major business trips. And every Monday morning I know exactly what needs to be accomplished for the remainder of the week. Then it hit me… the bullet points to the “perfect job” were starting work against me and I actually missed the unpredictability of my old job.
This irking feeling is directly related to my new work environment, but it’s not because the new job is bad, it’s because I expected it to be perfect. The source of the problem really lies in the fact that my old colleagues and I dreamed of a job environment that represented the exact opposite of what we currently had. We were drenched in Black and eager to dive head first into White. We knew Black wasn’t perfect, but we failed to recognize that White wasn’t either. As with anything in life, “perfect” usually rests somewhere between the extremes. This may seem like common sense, and in retrospect I agree. Yet somehow while I was cruising down the fast lane of life I didn’t see it coming. I guess it’s true, hindsight is always 20/20… and perfect is the enemy of good.