Does the following picture apply?
If so, you are not alone. Careers are a promise and a dream. The promise that years of education will pave the path to riches and glory. The dream that hard work and diligence will be rewarded. With close to 7 billion people and counting, the same promise cannot hold true for all of us. The promise is normally broken and the dream becomes a nightmare that we do not wake up from. It is the boulder of Sisyphus we force ourselves to push up daily (except on weekends and public holidays) thinking we will be able to reach the apex and get that pay rise or promotion that we deserved more than the jackass that knows nothing but sucking up. Sadly, the world is more up of sycophantic jackasses and in a world where everyone is crazy, the sane person is the crazy person.
Yet we still need to make sense of our madness beyond paying the bills that jobs offer us. We need to believe there is meaning. Perhaps the first step is forget that there is meaning. The only meaning is merely values we project onto our work. The removal of ourselves and our self worth with our company and our job is a difficult one especially since we are measured by our earning capabilities and that is tied to how well we do in our jobs, that hopefully lead to careers.
Every career has a lifecycle. It starts with birth and it ends with death. In many ways it is similar to relationships. And unlike life, there is rebirth and reincarnation and a chance to do better. Similar to the concept of reincarnation, the concept of karma applies. Doing well in one company helps you in your next life at the next company. Karma translates to reputation translates to aura. Your reputation will proceed you. You will meet other folks who might reincarnate with you. Conversely if you were a dick, you will be branded a dick and reincarnate as a roach in the next life. Or do you? From observation, our capitalistic economy promotes selfish dick behavior. These ginormous phalluses go on to get promoted and succeed in their careers. Or perhaps being a dick provides grit and tenacity to believe your vision is truly something worth pursuing? But gradually with enough exploitation and no further people and resources to deplete, there will be a stronger incentive to do good and help others.
So what is a career anyways?
I like to think of careers going through a few phases: impressing, dating, getting serious, married, growth/ stagnation, divorce/ death.
This is the first stage. The fun stage. The stage of dreams. The stage of putting make up and stuffing the resume to look better than it is and to have more substance that you have. This is the stage where you try your best to impress potential employers in the sea of other low cost talent locally and lower cost talent overseas. Where you will try to set up as many dates as possible. To swipe right on everyone and anyone, especially if you are new.
So you found a few matches and they think you are a potential match. You have a few chats. Meet with the HR, the hiring manager and the team. You wanted a simple date but end up meeting the whole family. Multiple times as you date a few employers and figure out who is the right match.
The potential suitors are getting impatient and await your answer to whether you will formally sign a piece of paper binding both of you together, for as long as you shall live. They call and chase. You ponder and wonder and draw up convoluted pros and cons list but in the end you leave it to a coin flip because destiny is already written, who are you to know better.
The first day for the rest of your life. Unless you get fired and find another employer, then it’s the groundhog day for the rest of your life. You sign the paper. It is the happiest day of your life.
Work begins. You make the commute daily from your house and rub shoulders and other body parts with fellow passengers crammed into the peak hour sauna. There are days you wonder if this was the right choice. You look back on other dates to think of the what ifs and the project children you might have had with the other companies. Or sometimes you are really lucky and the romance for the company is alive, because your manager is amazing and he/ she will always rekindle the flames to make you remember the love.
The end is inevitable. Managers move on. Especially good ones (through promotions or career change). Things no longer make sense as you wonder how the relationship has survived for so long when the romance had decomposed long ago like a turd in the hot sun. You realize you have reached the end of this chapter and time to head back to the jobs pool waiting and hoping for reincarnation.
For those of us lucky enough, we will be given a chance at rebirth. To learn from our mistakes and hopefully do better at finding true love.
Or perhaps true love is the myth of Sisyphus that gives us purpose as we pursue the endless cycle of career. Thankfully unlike Sisyphus, we are mere mortals that have an option of true death at the end of our shelf life. But within the time of our time on the shelf, we may have done some good.