We all know someone like Bob, the guy at work who started complaining incessantly about his job, about the company, about the staff, about his clients, etc. One complaint after another after another. Nothing is good enough for this guy anymore. Or, more accurately, nothing could ever be good enough for him because of his poor attitude. Not only is he a nuisance, but he drags down the energy of the workplace and few people seem to enjoy his company now. Often you wish he were to simply quit his job and leave. Good riddance!
Wouldn’t you be surprised to learn, however, that quitting his day job and leaving is exactly what Bob is longing for? He just doesn’t know how to do it, or more importantly, he doesn’t really know why he has to do it.
Few people actually recognize the signs that indicate when it’s time to move on from a regular job, and so there are countless Bob’s in the corporate world working at jobs they dislike or sometimes even despise. They’ll often change employer only to find that the same scenario repeats itself. But somehow, even though they are miserable at work and would rather be doing something else, they convince themselves that “this is as good as it gets.”
The reasons why people stay at jobs or careers they dislike are countless, and the majority of those reasons are probably very legitimate: A family to feed; a house mortgage to pay; a new car to buy; college tuition for the kids; medical bills from a family illness; consumer debts to repay; etc. The “this is as good as it gets” syndrome is often exacerbated by the “I can’t afford to make it any better right now” belief, which, as real as it might appear, still is mostly a belief conditioned by the circumstances that people allow to govern their lives. Stated differently, life and work are as good as it gets only when we stop striving for something better.
In Bob’s case, his situation shifted to “this is as bad as it gets,” possibly even progressing to stress-laden circumstances that brought out the worst in him. Numerous factors entered into play, of course, particularly in terms of the fit between his competencies and the requirements of his job. Was he the right person for the job? Did he have the skills and abilities required for his role? Was his job performance up to par?
But consider the reverse perspective as well, namely, the fit between the requirements of his job and his competencies. Same difference? Not at all. Was the job the right one for Bob? Did his role call upon his best skills and abilities? Were the job performance expectations suited to him?
The prior perspective is focused on the job. The latter perspective is focused on Bob. The prior is typically quantitative; the latter is typically qualitative. The prior might lead you to conclude that Bob has failed in his job. The latter would lead you to conclude the job has failed Bob.
For every Bob in the world who experiences similar difficulties and challenges at their job, there are alternate circumstances and conditions that can bring out the best in them. Would it surprise you to know that, after quitting his day job and leaving his firm, Bob went on to embrace his most cherished hobby full-time and opened a successful photo-boutique? Would it surprise you to know that Bob is now a sought-after public speaker in his community on the topic of “living your dream”?
What are the differences between the nightmare Bob was experiencing on the job and the dream he was now living in his photo-boutique? There are many differences, of course, but there is one main difference that makes all difference: Bob recognized that a regular job simply wasn’t enough for him anymore. Working for someone else was “as good as it gets” for a while, particularly when he started in his career, but as Bob grew more frustrated and more despondent at the workplace, he began to become aware through his inner explorations that there was something else calling him, something that was “better than this job.” The call was to a dream that had been relegated to second spot years before, but that at the appropriate moment began knocking at the door of his consciousness in a more pressing manner.
For Bob, his dream was like a beacon drawing him forward to his life calling. His photo-boutique well, that turned out to be his lifework. A regular job simply wasn’t enough for him anymore, and the time had come to move on. It took incessant complaining and a negative attitude on his part to make him realize there was something seriously amiss in his situation. It then took constant support and encouragement on the part of his family and friends to make him actualize his dream. Today, Bob would be the first to tell you that when a regular job isn’t enough anymore, it’s time to hear your life calling and fulfill your lifework. It’s never too late in life or work to start again on the right path.
Has that time come for you as well?