It took me a while to figure out why, but as I moved up the ladder taking positions with more and more responsibility I became less and less happy. I thought a better job with better pay, meant I would be happier, but I couldn’t handle the stress, the hours, the commute, or the monotony.
I started out loading trucks at a well-known parcel delivery company, moved up to supervisor, leveraged that into a position as operations manager at another company, and found myself in various other management positions. Each change brought on more responsibility and I eventually realized management just wasn’t for me.
On top of the stress, I was working increasingly longer hours sitting at a desk all day. I was considered a salaried employee but I ended up in a company that still had a mandatory start and end time. So even if my work was done for the day, I was still expected to sit at my desk and twiddle my thumbs (or “find something to do”) until the clock struck 5. I despise busy-work anyway, but especially when it’s keeping me from something I’d rather be doing like going home to my family. On top of that, I was commuting 30 minutes in the morning and 45-60 minutes in the evenings with traffic.
I decided to make a change and try out sales. My industry has outside sales people that are rarely in the office and, since I was beginning to feel like a caged cat sitting at my desk all day, that aspect alone was reason enough to try it out. The position also offered unlimited earning potential and much needed relief from the rigid 7am to 5pm schedule I was working.
While I was making a big change and taking a risk entering commission based sales, I was confident that if I was successful it would be worth it and I would be happier.
So here I am a little over two years later at 3:00pm on a Thursday, done with my work for the day and writing for my blog. I switched companies a year into my sales job but I am still an outside salesman in the same industry and things are going great. This week my name was added to the list of top 25 Sales People in the nation for our company (I was #21) and I am making consistent money.
It’s not what I want to do forever but at this stage in my life, it’s optimal. At my old job, I would leave the house by 6:15 each morning. My son wasn’t born yet then, but if I had stayed in that position, I wouldn’t get to see him at all in the mornings. Today, I’m spending at least an hour in the morning playing, eating breakfast, and engaging in quality time with him. If I need to schedule office hours at home because I am waiting for a delivery or time off in the afternoon, I just do it. My company allows me to prioritize my life over my job. The freedom is built in.
Here’s the catch: I am 100% responsible for my success and failure. If I don’t show up, I don’t make money. If I slack off and don’t call customers back, they will take their business elsewhere and I don’t make money. I can handle that responsibility because I do my work, then I play. I finish what I need to get done, then I slack off. Everybody adds “self-starter” as one of their personal skills on a resume, but in this type of position, it really matters.
Here’s the other catch: I had to ask for it. I applied for this position, was interviewed, and then received an offer; the standard order of operations for getting a new job. But it’s in the negotiation process where people really screw themselves.
This Business Insider Article states that failing to negotiate your salary can add up to losses over a million dollars through the course of a lifetime of working. That’s just in the monetary pay. People often overlook the other, equally negotiable non-monetary benefits like time off, tuition assistance, mentoring programs, or even child care.
The original offer required me to work a specific number of hours per week at our company’s office building, which was 45 minutes from my house at the time. I REALLY wanted the job but I turned the offer down. I didn’t just say no, I explained that I really wanted to work for their company, citing several reasons why, but I can do a better job with more flexibility, and if it is their policy to require me to work out of their office, rather than from my home office, and if they needed to manage my schedule rather than me manage it myself, then I didn’t think we would be a good fit.
They responded with a revised offer giving me the freedom to set my own schedule, and work from home as much as I wanted.
You have to ask for what you want. You have to position yourself for the next step in life, even if it takes a few years to get there.
I know what it’s like to feel stuck in a job you hate, constantly looking for a way out. I was always writing down ideas hoping that one of them would lead to millions of dollars and save me from the 9-5. But I’m here to tell you that you may be overlooking options that drastically improve your situation for the time being, while you figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. There’s no reason to live life in self-inflicted misery. Do you hate your job? Get a new one.
It could be as simple as changing positions in the company you already work. Look for a job with freedom built-in.
Then with your new found freedom, finish that novel you’ve always wanted to write, start that company you’ve been thinking about, get back to running every morning, or just get back to living your life.