About seven months ago, I switched jobs. Since then, my life has changed dramatically, some of which has been noticeable to my most loyal followers on this blog. If you haven’t already noticed, my new jobs has sucked many of my free hours and energy from me, with only working 40 hours a week. I’m not a work-a-holic, but my career has been the priority for the past several months.
Sometimes in life you have to make sacrifices and unfortunately, I’ve had to cut back on the number of hours that I spend updating this blog. I haven’t left you to twiddle your thumbs – I’ve hired writers to provide valuable content and keep my dream of providing a valuable resource for young adults alive while I figure out everything else in my life.
This blog hasn’t been the only thing that has suffered. In the past couple of weeks, I have come to the conclusion to give up on finishing my Master’s thesis. I had been working towards this degree for several years as part of an earlier career goal that no longer exists. For those who don’t know, I was pursuing a Master’s of religion at a Seminary with the hope of continuing on to Ph.D. work and eventually teaching at a university. That WAS my goal. It’s no longer my goal. I’ve changed courses – almost literally. While my new job has in many ways been a distraction from my thesis, the reality is that the “ink” that was I was using to write my thesis ran dry the moment I decided to take this new job. (Please, please, please, don’t jump into the argument of telling me that I was so close to finishing a Master’s degree. I’ve heard it over and over again, many times from myself. I’m not changing my mind – not anytime soon anyways).
In many ways, looking at how my life has changed over the past 6 months, it’s only natural to wonder if I’ve made the right decision. Accept a new position that requires more hours, more stress, more frustration, less time to complete my degree, and less time to work on a project (this blog) that I’ve invested hundreds, if not thousands, of hours into making a decent success. It sounds stupid, doesn’t it.
Well, I’m here to tell you it’s all worth it. For one simple reason – working a job that I enjoy. Who knew the word “enjoy” would be such a powerful word. And yet, when I weigh both sides of the equation, it really is that simple.
Why I Enjoy My Job
Reason #1 – It Has a Future
I accepted my new position in December of 2012 for the purpose of getting a job that had a future. The job that I was working previously was a decent job with okay benefits, but had no future – at least not that interested me. My wife and I had started talking about moving in a year or two and the last thing I wanted was to move without any skills or experience that could translate to a new non-entry-level job. I found myself evaluating what I was good at, what I enjoyed, and what I could do with my credentials and to make a long story short, that’s how I came to this job. The worst thing that could happen, in my eyes, was having to take a step backwards, and that was where I was headed.
It was the perfect fit. Working in the non-profit sector offered me a future. I had relevant work experience and unique skills with technology and managing websites that made me valuable. Apparently, it was enough to get me the job. It was not only a job that would provide me a good job now, but one with a bright future.
Reason #2 – Making a Difference
It may be a little cliche, but one of the things that I love about my new job the most is that I am making a difference. I work for a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families with cancer. While I don’t directly work with families or social workers, my job is directly influencing our organization’s ability to help families in a critical moment. I may not make the most money or have the best benefit package, but it’s nice to go to sleep at night knowing that what I do during the day helps others survive a challenging time. At my old job, I was helping people do research. Again, not a bad thing, but it’s just not what makes me tick. Working this new job reminds me of my college-aged idealism of making the world a better place; something that I thought I had lost for a few years. Regardless of whether you think I’m naive or overly optimistic, there’s nothing like feeling like your job matters. It definitely makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning.
Reason #3 – Flexible Hours
For nearly three years, I worked a 9-to-5 job that was customer service oriented. I was “on the front lines” helping people from nine to five, every day. Working a customer service job means not only a lot of stress, but also that if you get there a few minutes late or have to go to an appointment, it’s a pain in the you-know-what to have someone cover for you. I often had to resort to some sort of bribery or begging to take the personal hours that were mine by right. With my new job, I’m more of a behind-the-scenes type of guy. I occasionally answer phones, but rarely is the phone for me. If I show up a few minutes late to work, it’s a-okay. In fact, I was told in the interviews that this was not a 9-to-5 job. Flexibility goes a long way to help me feel okay about being stuck in traffic or sleeping through an alarm. It also helps me feel like a real adult. Of course, flexibility also has its downsides, but for the most part, it’s a huge benefit.
Why You Should Enjoy What You Do
While there are a number of other things I like about my job (i.e. doing something new everyday at work, working with technology, overcoming challenges, being able to implement new systems, etc.), the point is that I have come to learn how much enjoying what you do for a living matters. It’s easy to graduate from college and feel overwhelmed with how much it costs to just survive. Housing, transportation, food, insurance, and utilities all have one thing in common: BILLS. Uggh! There’s nothing worse than realizing that you have to work hard just to survive. That’s why I don’t blame people for wanting to make a lot of money – because I get it.
I know what it’s like to not feel like you will ever be able to afford a home of your own. To feel like things are just way too expensive and things just add up all the time. I get it – and yet, I’ve had it pretty good. No, I don’t make six figures and probably never will, but I graduated college without any debt, my wife and I earn enough to have a little extra, and can live in a good neighborhood. I’m never worry about having enough to eat, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what it means to want a little more. I think we’ve all been there. Almost everyone wants to earn a little or lot more money.
But here’s where the rubber meets the road. I would much rather sacrifice increased financial security, early retirement, brand new cars, home ownership at an earlier age, and many more things than have to wake up and go to a job that I hate. For me, working a job that I enjoy means that much to me – and I think if you were given the opportunity, you would too. I know that not everyone has the same opportunity as I do, but you shouldn’t mistake that for being impossible. Remember – I had to give up a lot to get where I’m at (as well as work my butt off). I had to come to grips with quitting (quitting school seemed a lot like failure for a long time – something that I don’t take lightly), lower my goals/expectations with this blog, and many other things – but that’s what you do when you find something or someone that you love. You make sacrifices – and it’s worth it.
Do you enjoy your job? If so, have you always been doing it? If not, what would you rather be doing?