By Go-getter Precious Singo, the newest member of the GGTW team
“Precious, do you like this job?”
“No. No, I don’t.”
Well, that was…unexpected. I was as surprised as everyone else in the room.
I was even more surprised when tears sprang to my eyes as I said it. I mean that is not the type of answer and reaction you tend to give in, what had been until that moment, an innocuous meeting with your peers, boss, and boss’s boss. That is especially not the type of answer you give if you are a young-ish woman…of color.
I knew what role I was supposed to play: unassuming, agreeable, and, above all, thankful that I had been allowed in the room with the men. But no one had ever asked me that question before. No one had cared. So when someone actually did ask, it was an inconsequential detail to me that it was my boss’s boss doing the asking.
To be fair, I had never even asked myself that question. I mean, who actually really likes their job, I thought. No little kid dreams of being a Business Development Manager at the third largest wireless carrier (which is what I was at the time). I had worked hard and gotten promotion after promotion, pay raise after pay raise. I had left terrible retail hours and holiday schedules in the dust. Sure, I wasn’t using my degree that I was still paying student loans for, but I was…happy.
Except, I wasn’t. Well, not happy in the way I had always imagined being. I was more existing in a car without a steering wheel. Going through the motions. Taking the next promotion because it was the next logical step. Never thinking about the end of the road.
And that day, without much (or any) conscious thought about what would happen next, I had hit the accelerator and the car went careening down the highway while I had no godly idea where it was headed to next.
Naturally, I did what I have always done when my mouth gets ahead of my brain; I doubled down on what I said. I figured, if I had said I didn’t like my job at that particular moment when I knew all of the rules of how you play the corporate game, then my statement must be true. I also decided that the time to figure out what I needed to do next had just arrived, because you can’t really come back gracefully from telling a room full of people that your job sucks. (Thankfully I stopped short of that, but my face most likely gave me away).
So I did what any married, just back from maternity leave, mother of two with a mortgage and student loans would do: I quit.
I quit with no plan, no other job, and no way to explain it to my family.
I spent my last two weeks in that job sequestered away, applying for any position that I could think of. (If you were in HR in 2014 and are reading this, you most likely received one of my erratic applications. You’re welcome.) On my last day, I drove away from the office, crying. Not because I was going to miss cold-calling or selling wireless (I wasn’t), but because I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, other than be happy. I knew I wanted that.
I wanted to live a phenomenal, extraordinary life where I could be proud of the work I do and the impact I make.
So that day, amid the tears, I made a promise to myself that I would put in the energy to be happy in my career. ‘Energy’ is the most important word of that sentence. I had spent so long just thinking that because I was a hard worker and smart and my bosses always liked me that I would be successful. I had equated success with happiness. Period. I never considered it to be something I should spend energy on attaining.
That was my first mistake. The happiest people I know have no fancy title (read: outwardly visible success). They make enough to live on, but can’t wait to get out of bed to start their days working.
My second mistake was allowing others to control my career. With every upward, logical promotion, I had basically put my happiness in the hands of corporate hierarchy. I figured if being Worker 1 was good, then being promoted to Worker 2 must be better! So I went along with that plan until…I didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. Quitting a well paying gig with zero plan is a terrible idea.
I am not suggesting that everyone (or anyone, really) do that. But man, when I say the good stuff was on the other side, I mean it. I learned what my passion was (and that it’s ok if that changes). Also, I gained a newfound appreciation for my extremely patient and supportive family who rolled with the punches of my trial by fire. They were there for me during the four months of my intense soul searching, severe moments of doubt, tearful conversations, terrible interviews, and reject after rejection.
Above all, I learned that I get to define what my career and my happiness within it look like.
It was ridiculously freeing.
My advice for you? Grab happiness by the horns and kick some butt! You, too, can Go Get The World! Here are some tips to get you started.
#TakeControl. Take control of your career. Start by sitting down and making a list of what you like about your current job and what you don’t. Then add to the ‘like’ list, and add some more. Be brutally honest with yourself. No one else is looking. Then, ask people you trust what they think your skills are. Find the nexus and pursue jobs in that area.
#Retrofit. Answer the question, “What job do I want to retire from?” and work backwards from that. Network with folks in that field who do that job. People are surprisingly generous with their time if you are genuine in your interest, and you can create your roadmap to happiness based on their experiences.
#NoNaysayers. Above all else, ignore the naysayers. There will always be those who ask how dare you think you deserve more, and say that you should stay in your (defined by them) lane. Stay away from those folks. They will be the same ones who, in a few years, will ask you, “How on earth did you go get the world?” And you will proudly respond, “It was already mine. I just didn’t know it.”
Do you have a story like this? Tell us about it and we’ll send you some GGTW stickers like these!