|01-30-2009, 12:32 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2008
golden handcuffs- how to get free?
I was wondering if there's anyone here who has mustered up the courage to jettison a so-called "good job" and pursue a path that was more congruent with your nature. Despite a daily, raging protest from every fibre of my being, I've been schlepping away in a Government office for 5 years, doing dry, menial paperwork under the supervision of umpteen uncharismatic middle management weinies. For a couple of years, I was thankful to have the security. For a couple more after that, I was mildly disgruntled. Now, it's absolutely killing me. I have a degree in English literature and a diploma in graphic design (neither of which I use much anymore since I got this job) and feel like life is just cruising by without me (I'm 33 years old). The trouble is that there's so much pressure for me to keep the job from family and friends- "what about the pension?" "what about the benefits?" "You'll have to survive on cat food when you're old and poor!" "some people would kill to have a Government job...don't take it for granted...etc..." Ugh! Honestly, these types of reactions are just part and parcel of what it is I really can't stand- the embracing and championing of mediocrity that I see everywhere- at work, at home, in advertising and TV and, I'll admit it, in the mirror. I know that big changes have to be made, but I feel so beaten and soul-sucked at the end of a week that I find it hard to concoct a good plan, or to stay positive long enough to see any real light at the end of the tunnel. What I really like to do, BTW, is write, but the thought of striking out on my own, laptop in hand, is a tad petrifying. Any insight would be much appreciated....and please don't say "just quit dude!". I need a plan.
|01-30-2009, 12:59 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2008
I'm probably not the best person to be giving you advise, since I was in the same position as you and never quit.
Well, this year I'll take the step, but only because I'm finally comfortable with what I've built on the side (hint, hint).
At one time I tried to quit my "side" projects, out of desperation, to try and get more out of my "day" job (as a salary), but my father knew where my real passion was, and insisted I kept going. Today I see the fruits, and I'm very thankful for that.
One of the insights I gained from this is that if I did quit a few years ago, I'd be on a much better position now, and my projects would be more mature, more developed. At the time I knew this, in my gut, but I was afraid to kill my cow.
So, although I can't give you a specific plan of action to quit, I suggest you do start on the side. Even half an hour a day will make a huge difference over time. Maybe this will give you the confidence you need.
If you do take this road, don't despise your "job". Do it happily.
I'm sure there are some other very useful tips others will give you
PD: Are you married? With kids? Do you have someone else to support?
|01-30-2009, 02:00 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2008
The great news is that you see the situation you're in. That's huge--many people never allow themselves to acknowledge their passions in the first place.
I had a good job and decided to shift things radically in the direction of following my passion, which is playing acoustic guitar, writing songs, teaching music, etc. But before I fully left the cushy confines of my "former" life, I had been working at the music for quite a while, and I had locked into a daily practice regimen that helped me know I had the energy to try to go further with my guitar playing.
So I'd definitely echo enyi and advise you to start where you are, now, to develop a writing habit that has you doing some kind of writing every single day. Gratefully and joyfully engage your current job, and every chance you can, pour yourself into your writing passion.
The War of Art might be a great book for you given the questions you're pondering. It's by Steve Pressfield, and it really speaks to that deep urge you're itching to scratch. We need your genius out in the world!
But as I've leapt into the unknown and worked on my art, I have to tell you, it has been totally brutal. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I'm so thankful I've been engaged in personal development all along, because without the array of skills I've learned from different personal development teachers, I don't know if I'd be able to handle the demands of living life in line with my passion. So that's another piece of advice I'd give you: devour EVERYTHING you possibly can in the field of personal development. If you're seriously considering following a path truer to your nature, then you're going to need a whole new set of skills and habits that are quite different from the skills and habits you've developed during your tenure at your current government job. I can't overemphasize this point: you're going to need every possible extra nugget of wisdom, positive habit, helpful perspective, etc. that you can get, and then some probably.
I practice 6 hours a day most days, and I surround my daily practice rhythm with constant reinforcement in the form of books, audio programs, focusing on my goals, visualization, meditation, exercise, healthy eating, etc. etc. Anything and everything that you can bring into your life that will help you stay focused on your passionate dream, bring it on in. You'll need it when the times get tough, as they certainly will.
Pressfield describes the daily discipline of the creative worker as a slog through the mud, and that's a frustratingly accurate description of how it feels to be engaged in the thankless work of following my passion quite a lot of the time.
But, and I promise I'm going to finish here with this last exhortation: you're feeling this call to something more in line with your nature because you've got something inside of you that this world needs. So one way or another, you're going to have to heed that call. Be smart, step carefully, and definitely definitely definitely GO FOR IT.
|01-30-2009, 02:02 AM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Toronto, Canuckland
Plan? What kind?
Do you need a plan to have the courage to quit? That's easy, start to do littler things that you're scared of. Can be anything, but your circle of comfort will expand and you'll develop the courage to quit. Striking out on your own my be too big a fear to tackle right now, but can you tackle a smaller one, which isn't even related?
Plan for transitioning to writing full-time? Follow Steve's advice and the advice of person above. Start doing what you love when you can, get good at it until you can start making money from it. Then transition over. Save some money up first so that when you first strike out on your own. If time is an issue, really figure out your financial needs and figure out if you maybe you could work part-time. Read Your Money or Your Life.
If you're not writing right now, why?
|01-30-2009, 02:38 AM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2008
You can always follow your dream of writing. Go to work, then come home and start writing. Be diligent. It's better than suffering everyday as life passes you by. You cannot... better yet, will not be a passive observer of your life.
As of yesterday, I'm 20 years old. My life goal is to help people. Additionally, I refuse to work for anyone in my life. My dad criticized me a little for not having a more rational view of the future. He told me that it will be very difficult to simply help people and simultaneously never work for somebody else. I don't care.
Since I refuse to work for someone else when I'm older, I will write as an alternative. I am resolute on that decision, I am only a sophomore in college. I've already begun the makings of a book. I've got about a third of one finished. I would love to talk to publishers sometime this summer.
Are my goals irrational? Possibly. Do I care? No. No one but you can destroy your ambitions and your dreams. If you want something different for your life, go out and do it. Take action. Now. Or you will forever be entrapped by that snare of mediocrity.
|01-30-2009, 04:11 AM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2008
Thanks for the book recommendations and insights...I'll look into both of them. I am writing these days actually, but the projects have been pretty sporadic and hardly lucrative enough to generate any real momentum. I'll definitely take some of the advice here and start pecking away for an hour or 2 every day, and maybe, as RT Wolf mentioned, try to confront a smaller, unrelated fear as a stepping stone. That particular idea really hit home. I think I should also focus on patience and steadiness rather than envisioning an epic outcome before I've even begun. Some might call that "visualization", but I think in my case, it's just "getting ahead of myself". As soon as I come down from my daydreams, I find myself staring at at a huge gulf between where I am and where I want to be. Then I go to work, and the gulf starts looking like an ocean...I think my biggest challenge here will be learning how to "gratefully and joyfully engage my current job", as manifest40 said. I feel completely at odds with office culture generally, and I'm surrounded by people who live it right down to the last "action item going forward". Oh yeah, and to answer Enyi's question, I have no kids, although my ladyfriend and I may go down that path when my career feels a bit more truthful. Thanks again.
|01-30-2009, 04:40 AM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Mediocrity is embrace by lots of people even though they do not admit it. I believe you had endured enough of it and want an out immediately. If you want a safer route to get out of this rut, try doing something you like on the sideline and stay in your day job at the same time. You can relate to career which you have knowledge in, such as graphic design or English literature. Or you can start a career on what you really love doing and start doing it on the sideline.
Hope this help.
Personal Development Blogger
|01-30-2009, 12:38 PM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Have you tried looking for around at other jobs in the government to see if there's one that better suits you and your qualifications? Many government departments still need graphic designers, communications officers, website content editors and that sort of thing. I'll bet there's a range of jobs available that suit your skills that you didn't even realise were there because you didn't look. Even if it's not ultimately what you'd like to do with your life, it could be a step in the right direction, without totally cutting off your income. It's another option to consider, anyway.
As for those people who are pressuring you, if they think it's so great, let them have the dull but secure jobs, and see how they like it! I'd bet if it was them, they'd feel the same about it, so forget about them. They don't have to live your life. A government job isn't the only pension plan on the market you know! I usually find in these situations that deep down you know what has to be done, you're just too scared to do it.
As for 'gratefully and joyfully engaging your current job', maybe just thinking of it as a launching platform would help. Look for ways to take initiative to do things you want to do, or to do something different. Volunteer for projects that are coming up, if a department you're interested in is busy offer to lend a hand, that sort of thing. Maybe even talk to your manager (if they're relatively competent) and tell them how you're feeling, let them know that you'd like to take on something different or be considered if things come up. Most managers appreciate someone showing a bit of initiative or get up and go. Or else find a mentor somewhere to help you out. Network a bit in the department, keep your ear to the ground, you never know what might come up. If you start actively looking for an opportunity, something will come along sooner or later and in the meantime you'll feel as if you're taking control a bit and won't feel so despairing.
Good luck with your writing!
|01-30-2009, 04:04 PM||#9 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Don't live anyone else's life but your own. What good will it do you or anyone if you stay in a job you hate and does not suit you? What is the point of a pension and benefits if you are not happy anyway?
Follow whatever you want to do. Take action now - this is YOUR LIFE.
I am also a writer and I truly understand the difficulties of earning a living. But I have made the decision to be self employed doing other things I enjoy, such as coaching and genealogy and having an online business - and my goal is to earn enough through these things that I have time to write every day.
Yes, it's difficult sometimes - but I do not regret it for anything - and I would never go back to my old job in teaching, where I was earning a decent salary, but was mostly miserable!
A book I often recommend is Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. It is a book that really did change my life.
Hope this helps.
|01-30-2009, 08:43 PM||#10 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancouver WA
I have a wife, a son, and the "perfect" corporate job... pays well, work from home, reasonably little travel (unless I want more), no micromanaging, great coworkers and bosses, allows creativity, I get to help provide solutions to people, quarterly company-based-performance bonuses, great benefits...
Seriously, I have the "perfect" job.
But... I have a "j-o-b" and that doesn't resonate.
I've been building, and continue to build, my spiritual publishing business (websites, products, services,ecourses, etc) in the evenings while I work my day job.
I will be quitting my job to pursue this full time. I've even informed my employer of my intent to leave.
The golden handcuffs are latched on tightly... but with every night that I continue to "work" with my passions... those handcuffs become a little less tight.
The other thing is, I know deep down that my perfect job has a glass ceiling. There will always be a cap on how much I can earn - when I work for myself, and utilize leverage and automation, my glass ceiling is lifted.
So even despite my fears, I know it's just a matter of time and continued persistence before the golden handcuffs are unlocked.
If I didn't have a wife, son, and mortgage... I might have left my employer already. I can personally live on very little, and I'd probably have moved back with my parents while building my business... which would reduce my expenses considerably.
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