Trying to decide what I want is a tough think. So in the interest of making some headway in this process, I remember a phrase I heard somewhere many years ago (may have been Alanis Morissette and during my post teen angst years…) Paraphrasing here: find out what you don’t want and then you’ll know what you do want. May have been more about who you are than what you want but you get the idea.
Job searching has been a struggle to say the least. Partly because the job market in my town is horrendous if you are wanting more than a minimum wage job but also because searching when you literally have zero idea what you are looking for is like trying to smell the colour nine.
I contemplated moving back to being self employed. It would allow me the flexibility that I adore. The ability to have a schedule that I set myself. Time to travel when I want and not be tied to a Monday to Friday 9-5 schedule. I put some serious time into this option. I could consult. Business operations and structure are my skill set and something I could transfer into a company of my own. I’ve done it, for free, for associates and business contacts for the last couple of years and I’ve been told more than once that I’m crazy for giving it away. So I mused on that. Heavily mused.
Then I remembered how it was to be self employed in reality. I was self employed for almost 20 years and I loved it. It also stressed me out and fed my workaholic issues in a bad way. Anyone who has ever run their own business will tell you that the reality is that you work far more for yourself than you ever will for someone else. That’s true. You also will most likely never really have the financial security of knowing how much you’ll have coming in every month. The benefits are not to be ignored though. Freedom, being your own boss, setting your own schedule, the list goes on and on. So do the issues of starting up, capital costs, time and energy, marketing, and the month to month financial concerns before you actually start making money (and that can take a lot longer than anyone thinks it will). I spent 6 years getting my first business up and running as a side hustle before I took the leap and quit my full time job back in the late 1990’s (goddess that makes me feel old!). I know the self employed game and it’s not easy.
So I took a job last month that had a wage that was acceptable for my needs even though I had some serious reservations about it. Honestly, I knew going in that it was not a good fit and that it would be a job that would make me less than happy to be going to everyday. But fear of no income won out and I argued with myself that I was being picky, that I was being unreasonable to think that I could find a job that was better. So I accepted the offer and started last week.
Yes, from day one, I knew it was not the right fit. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t a healthy environment for me. Trust me, it was much better in many ways than what I had left in August but it had some pretty serious issues as far as a workplace for me. Eight hour days, solo, customer facing, with no other staff (and hence, no ability to take breaks, including a lunch break) was just not going to work out for me long term. Add in that I was also hired as the manager meant trying to manage and overhaul a business operation that was a mess after a year of no management. So basically, business consulting work, front desk duties (solo) and did I mention that I was also needing to post, interview and hire a new person for the one day a week that I would not work (Saturdays) with no ability to leave the desk? Impossible.
But… I argued with myself, imagine the difference you can make here. It is essentially a blank slate as far as organization is concerned. There is so much potential. You LOVE business organization and the minutiae of “fixing” it all. There are so many things you can bring to the table to make this better. But. But. But. In all of this, the voice that whispered in my head that I was lucky to have a job at all. Shut up and just keep going. Who are you to want better?
Then another voice, the one that made me still job search every morning before work, still sending resumes and cover letters even though I had a job now: it said… remember what you want? Sit up and give your head a shake! You did not go through the stress and hell of the last few months to settle. To accept “ok” and “good enough”. You are worth more, you deserve more, than something you aren’t happy with. Granted, no place will be perfect but YOU ONLY GET ONE LIFE. 40 hours a week is a lot of hours to spend not content.
But, but, but.
So I interviewed for another position with another company. For a touch less money but with such an amazing work atmosphere and in an environment that hits my skill set and will allow me growth and potential with a future that was not only hinted at but talked openly about in that first interview. A workplace that values work life balance and puts it first and foremost by pointing out that all breaks (including lunch) are paid because “We believe you should be paid for the time during the day when you are recharging yourself.” What a fucking concept.
I did what scared the hell out of me. I quit the job I had taken last week. With no notice (they still had the other person before they hired me so I did not leave them in the lurch, I’m not a complete douchebag). I put myself first. I start my new job next week.
I may not be a hundred percent sure or clear on what I want in a career yet. After a week in a job that I certainly did settle for, I do know what I don’t want and that’s a start.
That feels good.
(written as I have tabs open on a new website for my side hustle 😉 a girl has to have dreams, right?)