Making the right choices subconsciously or unintentionally

Back when I was younger, I felt like I could go into any of a number of different careers. My guidelines in choosing a career were simple: I didn't pay much attention to earnings potential, industry growth, portability, advancement or even scheduling. I was all about what interested me, what I excelled at.

In retrospect, I really lucked out. At one point, I seriously toyed with pursuing journalism. I was the editor of my high school newspaper and even did Journalism Explorers and got to hang out at the local paper's newsroom. Journalism was always a low paid, badly scheduled career. I chose not to go that route because I got more interested in public policy. Twelve years later, the journalism field is collapsing as its business plan falls apart. Media organizations are hemorraging money and journalists have been laid off in droves. Plus, the pay and hours still suck. Good choice on me.

I also toyed with joining the legal profession. Even did Law Explorers in high school, got to hang with real attorneys and judges and excelled at a mock trial. Took constitutional law in college and liked it. But it just didn't excite me, the pre-laws in college were irritating and as Tom Hanks once put it, being a lawyer means having homework all the time. Plus the hours suck, the hourly pay can be pretty bad, but it is highly portable. Fair choice on me.

I went into public policy expecting low to moderate pay, no portability and lousy hours. Most policy jobs involve horrible hours in exchange for doing really important (or seemingly important) work. The burnout rate is pretty high. The pay turned out to be higher (especially on an hourly scale) than I expected, the portability is nearly nonexistent and the hours are manageable in some spots, like the spot I'm in. The burnout potential is there, but it's mostly because of the hours and work that turns out not to be important. I've avoided that for the most part. Good choice on me.

The funny thing about career choices is how some of your mildly held preferences bubble up and become more important over time. I was willing to trade off money for decent hours, and substance over appearance. I have the Gen X trait of wanting work/life balance.

Having a good amount of work experience now, to me there are few office jobs with crazy hours that seem remotely worth the tradeoff. Much of the time, the culture of 24/7 work is a perpetual fire drill done mostly for appearances' sake. Humans are not very productive beyond eight hours, other than in looking busy. Over time, it's that kind of work culture that increasingly I have found ridiculous.

This has so far kept me from toying with politics, software development and entertainment because of the lousy hours and work/life imbalance. But it's not a big deal, because those fire drill cultures drive me nuts. I like having down time each night, to vary my mental frequencies and recharge in one area while focusing on another. Good choice on me.

1 comment:

shoffy22 said...

Ahh yeah, this work/life balance does seem to be the key! I think the ToT has channeled Aristotle well!