I’m posting this on Monday night. Friday will be my last day of 9-to-5. I expect to never be an employee again.
But you know, I actually like my day job for the most part. The pay is decent, I get on well with my colleagues, I’m part of a great team, and I’m left to my own devices as long as I’m hitting my deadlines. As 9-to-5 jobs go, it’s a nice gig.
But therein lies the danger
Fortunately, I’ve realized that “nice” isn’t good enough for me. Career is a massive part of one’s life, a massive part of the legacy we leave behind. I don’t want to spend 2,000 hours every year doing “nice” work. When I’m lying on my deathbed, many years from now, I don’t want my great grandson Jimmy asking what my work life was like, only to respond, “Eh, it was alright. Now run along, Johnny. I want to watch a Seinfeld rerun one last time.”
I see and hear from many people who are doing “nice” work. Work that’s good enough. Work that pays the bills. Work that passes the time.
Last week I met a girl. She’s a bartender here in New Orleans. She wore expensive clothes and was decorated in gold jewelry. When asked what she liked most about her job, her answer was “the money.” When asked what she disliked most about her job, her answer was “the work.” She’ll likely be a bartender for the rest of her working life. She doesn’t see anything wrong with that.
I have a friend here in New Orleans who works 60+ hours per week for a big oil company, has done for 5 years. Most days he gets into the office at 7, responds to various emergencies all day, leaves at about 6 (often later), and usually spends what’s left of his evening eating out and grabbing a few drinks. I asked my friend if he likes his job. His response: “I must do if I’ve been at it this long.” He has no plans to make any significant changes in his work life.
These people, much like myself a year or so ago, are in the dangerous position of settling for “good enough.”
Why good enough isn’t good enough
Actually, oftentimes good enough is good enough. I bought some avocados the other day. They weren’t fully ripe, but they were good enough. I went ahead and made the guacamole.
But good enough isn’t good enough when it comes to the big things, like your health, your love life, your career. Shrugging and settling in those areas simply isn’t good enough. Please don’t do that to yourself. You only get one crack at this life thing.
My way out
Before I get into this, let me be clear that I have no tangible way of knowing that quitting my job is the right thing to do. Remember, I’m still a ninetofiver as I’m writing this. I haven’t made it out yet. Maybe check back in a few months to make sure the guy giving you this advice isn’t living in a cardboard box and eating dog food.
Thing is, I thought I’d be terrified right now. My lone income stream gets cut off at the end of the week. I have no side-business built up. My blog has generated a grand total of $38.57 in the past year. Sure, I have enough savings to cover at least three months of living expenses, but beyond that I’ll have to make my own money or learn to love K-9 Chicken Krunch.
And yet I have this overwhelming sense that I’m doing the right thing, that everything will be okay. In fact, I’m extremely excited about what lies ahead.
A year ago I wouldn’t have felt this way. I wouldn’t have felt ready. But I do now. I now have faith in my ability to knuckle down and do meaningful work. I know I can block out distractions and focus on what’s important. I know I can surround myself with people who will help me succeed (and vice versa). I’ve studied lots of successful online entrepreneurs, and I know I can be one of them. They’ve got nothing I haven’t got, or at least nothing I can’t learn.
Two other things I know: My fears and insecurities don’t have to have the last word, and failure ain’t so bad.
Knowing all these things, I know I’m ready.
But let’s get back to you
I have another friend who doesn’t seem to like her job much. Recently she told me she loved my blog and that she “can’t wait to see what I’ll do next.” At the time I was flattered and said, “Thank you,” but having thought about it, I wish I had replied, “Screw that. What are you going to do next?”
Seriously. What are you going to do next? What’s your way out of the “good enough” situation you’ve settled for? What are you going to tell little Jimmy/Johnny on your deathbed?
If you’re deep in that “good enough” place right now, don’t freak out. You don’t have to escape today. You may not be ready. I know I wasn’t.
But what you can do today, is start setting yourself up for your eventual escape. Right now, you can make the decision not to settle.
Then, over the next few weeks and months, get busy figuring out what your passion is. Surround yourself with the type of people you want to be like and ditch anyone who holds you back. Develop good work habits. Conquer your fears, one at a time. Slay those small demons before taking on the dragons.
Before you know it, you’ll be living your last week of good enough, and feeling pretty damn good about it.