I was once told by a coworker before considering relocation for a job in another State that we only regret the risks we don’t take, and not the ones we do. While I questioned the veracity of this sage advice from a senior colleague, I took a chance and made the move. I have learned along the way that fear is an insidious thing, but often regret can be worse.
I have been reading up on career regrets lately and in an interview with mid-career participants, they indicated that playing it too safe while clinging to security and staying too long in an unhealthy work environment ranked towards the top. Couple that with, I wish I hadn’t worked so hard and I wish I had been more true to myself. On top of that, studies have shown that when measuring the end of a life well-lived and overall satisfaction, surprisingly a good career ranks towards the bottom. The fact is, many of the top responses of life regrets had little do with career at all and more to do with relationships. Relationships matter.
So, what is one to do with this information as it relates to our quest for identifying and maintaining meaningful work?
Work Life Integration
Are you a producer, or a consumer? When your work steals your precious time all to make someone else rich, only to you allow you the opportunity to spend more, to buy things you don’t need, in order to keep up with your neighbors, is it really worth it? This is called lifestyle inflation and has to do with someone spending right up to the amount of their salary (or beyond thanks to a financial system that offers available credit to anyone with a pulse). The Covid crisis has revealed a majority of Americans don’t have the means to cover basic expenses if their income is suddenly cut off. Relinquishing the burden of debt and reducing your dependence on a job ultimately provides freedom. We are seeing more of this now with a laudable movement as a young generation dedicated to FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early). Establishing yourself in a position of control financially will allow you to set more boundaries at work leading to my next point below.
Make Time for Play
So now that you have some extra time, what will you do with it? As adults, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day rat race and somewhere along the way we forgot to take time out to play. Do you ever feel like you are hustling backwards? Remember recess as a kid? We still need these things in our lives and it helps to serve as a reminder to not take things so seriously, behave a bit foolishly, unwind and get outside. It can also be an amazing opportunity to meet people, socialize, network, and get inspired by someone else’s stories. By the way, another one of the regrets toward the top of the list that participants cited was they did not make time for adventure and instead decided to stay in the comfort zone.
Job Hack of the Week: Company Research
The #1 thing that drives recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers nuts is that candidates weren’t prepared to discuss what the company they were interviewing with actually does. I once interviewed someone while working at ADP (Payroll) and the candidate thought we were ADT (Security Company). Don’t be that person. Take time to review the company website, connect with people that work there beforehand. You best bet is to be a referral from a trusted, successful employee already with the company. If you can, try to get as many informational interviews from folks that already work there to learn about the culture and of course to find out if they work their employees to the grind, because remember you’re now putting yourself and your time first.
Summary: It has been said that a person’s real life is often the one they do not lead. So many people look back and wish things could have been different. “If only I had ______”Fill in the blank. Now is the time to take back control to determine what matters most to you and shape your work accordingly.
As always, stay safe, be grateful, and spread the word about Project Safety Net.