I found this gem of a post while doing some research for a current post I’m working on. I actually never posted it, but by the references in the post I must have written it in 2011. Just to honor my work, I’m going to post it largely unchanged, and then I’ll write an update and continuation next week. Enjoy 🙂
By 2010 I’d be six years out of college, and I was sure to reside in a downtown high rise overlooking Central Park in New York City. It would have been a result of my taking the business world by storm, and relentlessly chasing my dreams until I beat them into submission. Actually, the exact plan was to move to Dallas after college, transfer to New York City, and then off to London.
The plan for success didn’t include what I would actually do, but I think ‘business’ was the common answer. The answer wasn’t important at that point, but I knew I would be successful and that sounded like an ideal succession of cities to conquer! This dream of my was formulated well in High School in 1999. My parents recently reminded me of this and I had to laugh.
The dreams held true even after college, but I had forgotten about the succession of cities. Even through my first few years in the consulting world, it seemed my plans were playing out; albeit at a slower pace. I was even living in Dallas and proving I could succeed as my salary was increasing.
However, things started to change and my clear goals of business success became a little muddy. I can’t pinpoint a reason or a specific moment. It was most likely a combination of many events that pushed me in a different direction. The once seemingly exotic work trips became the boring, the long hours exhausting, and the lack of passion for my work was draining me before I even started.
When I started to lose my desire to succeed in the business world I felt like something was wrong with me. I’ve always been ambitious, but now it was changing. Was I becoming lazy? Was I losing my work ethic?
It hit me especially hard when I read books about Carnegie and Rockefeller and the great fortunes they amassed. They used to be my idols but now they stood for something I didn’t want with my life.
What was happening to me?
It was actually very discomforting when I began to doubt my long held feelings. If I kept working hard at my job, it must eventually change, and I would rediscover my passion for business success. Anyway, I’d be a fool to give up the great salary I’d accumulated through hard work and sacrifice.
However, it never came and the harder I pushed the further my ambition fell. Maybe the very books I read for motivation pushed me in another direction or maybe I was simply learning through experience. The books I’d read gave me a glimpse of what it meant to be a powerful industry leader. They told the true stories of sacrifices, break downs, and corruption.
At work, I saw examples of it. The sacrifices I saw older employees making weren’t worth what they were receiving for it. The partners at my firm at my firm at worked at this incredibly torrid pace for twenty years to make it to that level. They traveled almost non-stop for many years. They parented over the phone and missed their kids’ most important moments. Some talked of discontent and regret. Others justified it because they could provide nice things for their family.
You see, I started changing my mind subconsciously while fighting it on the outside. This was no longer appealing to me. In addition to that, I didn’t know what else I wanted to do so I was stuck in a lull. I didn’t like where I was going but I had no other place to go. The Golden Handcuffs were fully attached.
In his book The Call, Oz Guinness said “Success may then flatter us on the outside as significance eludes us on the inside.” It felt good to look successful, and I felt like I was projecting the success I previously so much wanted.
This is when I started reading with more purpose to try and identify what was going on. Many of the books I read hit a powerful chord in my soul. Your Money or Your Life explained in objective fashion how I was giving up my life to work. It even made the convincing argument that I made a lot less money than I thought because I should be ‘paid’ for all of my time away from home… not just the work day.
There was nothing wrong with me. I wanted to own my life and spend time doing what I wanted.
As appealing as it sounded to quit and try something totally different, that wasn’t the right plan either. I almost quit my job for another or to go back to school. These would have only been temporary reprieves that resulted in more dissatisfaction and likely more debt.
Instead, I chose to use my job as a tool and try to find my passion on the side. I began writing and applying some of the things I learned. I read some blogs and they quickly peaked my interest.
This is something that I could do. It would allow me to serve others and help them through the same problems I had. The more experienced, the less meaningful my job has become. I’m rediscovering my passion of helping others and talking finance.
My goal is to help you stay out of the position that I’ve seen many people in. Countless co-workers and friends hate their work but are stuck there because of their debt and obligations. Nothing is wrong with you because your ambitions change. It happens to everyone.
However, you must do something about it. Don’t be unhappy for the rest of your life. Have your ambitions changed over the years?