I read this post from Michael Martine (aka Remarkablogger) while half-watching American Idol.
Yeah, yeah I know – Idol is cheesy. There are better things to do with my time. I know. But I watch it anyway, so shoot me. I’ve watched it for 4 years actually and I’m to the point where I can tell who is going to do well without even trying. It’s not about talent or singing ability. It\’s about who has the clearest idea of who they are musically. It may sound odd, but authenticity is key to success, even on a reality TV show that so many people see as fake.
Selling Vacuum Cleaners
Which is what Michael wrote about in his post. He used to be a vacuum cleaner salesman and he hated it. Read his whole post to find out why (it’s a great read) but the bottom-line was that he knew he was in the wrong job. He didn’t hate the vacuums he was selling – he just hated door-to-door sales because it wasn’t authentically who he was. He calls how he felt ‘living a lie.’
I know what he means. For a long time I stayed in a job that actually made me unhappy because it paid well. I was an HR exec and had risen up through the ranks to serve on the executive leadership team. I was never entirely happy in HR but I always thought that the next promotion would be the one that changed how I felt about my job. It never did because it just wasn’t right for me. There were too many things about HR that required me to mute parts of my personality or do things I didn’t enjoy doing.
Starting my own business meant taking a big pay cut, not to mention a big risk, but I couldn’t be happier that I did it. Because I enjoy my work now that I am no longer ‘living a lie.’
But What About the Recession?
Perhaps it seems nuts to think about finding work that makes you happy at a time when so many people are just desperate to find (or hang on to) any job. But I don’t think it is. I think that times like these are exactly the times that give us an opportunity to reevaluate, because they show how tenuous everything is anyway. If you’re staying in a job just because it pays well, now you realize that it’s not secure anyway. It could be gone tomorrow and then what?
If you\’re in a job that doesn’t reflect who you are and what you really love to do, start making plans to leave it. Decide what you do love and use your spare time to work towards that. Just because you can’t afford to walk out and then start a search doesn’t mean you can’t start a search anyway.
And if you’re currently looking for a job, make happiness a part of the equation. Even if you have to take an emergency job to pay some bills, don’t let that dissuade you from the long-term goal of finding work you love.
It’s not just a good idea because you will feel better. It’s a good idea because you will be far more successful doing something that is authentically you than struggling along in a field that you don’t find personally rewarding.