I Don’t Need a Career Because I Have a Life!

Last week my wife and I were chatting about a close friend of ours who had recently admitted to us that she had given too much of her life to her career and now she was 34 with no real friends, a husband or children which she admitted was what she really wanted.

Our friend has not got a glittering, shining example of a high flying career. She just has the type of generic office job that millions of people have. She earns more than the average salary but not much more. She has been lied to and has been kidding herself for years that she has been building a CAREER. But what she has actually been doing is sacrificing her own happiness and real life to create something that does not mean anything or hold any real value.

I hate the word career because it is a term used to fool people into working harder for nothing. Big governments, society, the education system and corporations use it all the time to push people to do more for no return “because it will be good for your career”.

I also hate the word career because it does something worse to people; it makes them put their own life on hold while trying to build an illusion that does not really exist. The truth is our friend and many like her could get a similarly paid job in many different companies doing all kinds of things almost anywhere in the English speaking world. What she does (or in fact what most people do at work) is not special. But society and corporations have used smoke and mirrors to make her and everyone like her believe that they have a meaningful and valuable “career”.

Let me tell you now that I have never met anyone that got rich working for someone else. However I do know a lot of people who have given the best years of their lives, sacrificing their own happiness for a meaningless career, only to be made redundant or quit because they realize the truth too late.

Life is so short and we need to make the most of every day. Personal goals must come before professional ones, otherwise how do you know what you’re working towards? Only working towards a good career is unlikely to bring you anything tangible or make you happy in the end.

The owners of the company our friend works for don’t have careers, they have millions in the bank, a big house, a summer home and a skiing lodge! They don’t have time for a career because they are too busy enjoying the high life which others are working hard to provide for them.

When I have mentioned these things before to people I sometimes get accused of being depressing or negative but that is the opposite to what I am saying. I want people to be more positive and create something more meaningful in their lives. I am saying life is short because I want everyone to live their lives every day not just trundle on the treadmill every day. Anyone that thinks I am being negative or depressing is just burying their head in the sand.

Set yourself some personal goals then ask yourself what you need to do professionally to achieve those goals. Work to make your own life better, not someone else’s.

If you want more advice on how to make positive changes in your life have a look at my book and entrepreneurship course.

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4 thoughts on “I Don’t Need a Career Because I Have a Life!

  1. Hi Matt,

    These are great insights, After working with over 500 new entrepreneurs to shift their mindset from being employees to business owners I can tell you that for some the shift can be too big of an obstacle for them to hurdle while others thrive in this new paradigm because they finally have freedom to chose, right or wrong the buck stops with them.

    I agree that “Life is so short and we need to make the most of every day” and that often we are trapped in ‘Career Mode’ and as you explained make decisions that we have justified as rational “because it will be good for your career”. I was one of those people, until one day I walked into a recruiters office and realized it an instant that my job was killing me. You see the recruiter had a window and I realized that for almost 2 years I never saw daylight during my working day, I justified it as ‘normal’ and good for my career because I drank the Kool-Aid.

    Having a ‘Career’ is our neat little way for ‘White Collar” workers to organize their life. I’ve yet to meet any ‘Blue Collar” workers that refer to their jobs in a mill or on the docks or a mechanic refer as their career, it’s their job.

    That being said, not everyone will start their own business but I think everyone can shift their mindset to think of themselves as the CEO of their own business (They are the business) As the CEO you can pick and chose who you want to work with and for, how to manage your finances and what your ultimate exit strategy will be.

    With your help you can assist them to find out out How To Be Happy, which can be get them unstuck!

  2. Pingback: Career or Life? | How to Reset Your Life

  3. I completely agree; after working in a career for over 15 years it slowly dawned on me that while i still had friends, I didn’t see them any more; while I had hobbies, I couldn’t remember what they were they had atrophied so much.

    The biggest problem we face is that we are stuck believing that we need to have our creature comforts and unfortunately to get these you need to pay for them which in turn requires income. And this is where the challenging part comes in, to work for yourself is a risk which puts all these creature comforts at much greater risk. Yes the rewards are greater but there is some perceived comfort in working the career.

    Too bad so many of them are soul-sucking leaving only a fragment of the person you once were or worse wanted to be.

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