Whilst growing up, I never knew what I wanted to do or be when I was older. Friends around me had firm ideas or made the choice at university to go on to become doctors, optometrists, pharmacists; and there I was, still wandering. Hands in my pockets, feet kicking the dust of the barren landscape of my thoughts, trying to find my direction.
Doing a business degree seemed like the only logical option, I wouldn’t be side-lined into a vocational career I had no passion for and there were many different routes I could go down – sales, marketing, operations to name a few. Funnily enough, I had always been adamant I didn’t want a 9 to 5 sitting in an office, yet that is where I found myself.
Getting a graduate job at a large international corporation seemed like a win. I was getting paid good money to sit behind a desk and beaver away at making the business better, whilst seemingly developing myself for the sake of a career. But somewhere along the line, I stood back and looked into this corporate life was swirling in, coming to the realisation that maybe I didn’t want this after all. But I must be crazy for thinking that right, if everyone else is chasing this dream to become high flying managers and directors?
You see, every day I walk into the office and watch grown adults fretting over whether we will hit our sales targets for the month. And if there is even a chance that we’re heading towards a miss, there is even more frantic behaviour over the actions we must take to achieve targets. And for what? Well, to report the results into the puppeteers of the European and worldwide Head Offices. For directors and managers, the motivation comes from being paid a bonus on achieved targets. For everyone else, there is motivation from constantly proving your abilities to have a shot at moving up the career ladder; or constantly fearing the backlash of the grapevine if you’re not performing like you should.
It’s been hard for me to accept, but I no longer believe I am destined to work in such an environment. An environment where achievement is measured on an individual’s exposure to the management team, where life revolves around work and where hitting targets is the sole purpose. All to eventually progress higher up the chain, taking on more of these pressures.
I have been thwarted by my realisation, but it is better now than later. Particularly, it is the fact that everyone else at my level is seemingly chasing the corporate dream – working long hours, being viewed as important by managers, making small talk with directors, putting in the menial work. But I don’t work to fit into this group if I am no longer motivated.
I am a person with passion, a need to make a good difference. I have a creative flair which has been hidden under a cloak. I know I will have to take a pay-cut and lose my company car, which as shallow as it sounds, hurts the most. But only then will I be free to take my career off into a different direction, which will have more meaning to me as the unique person I am.
Have you ever faced the decision of ditching what you’ve worked for, in favour of pursuing a different passion?