30 years with the same company. Really?! 30 —- YEARS! Crazy to think about but many people from my parent’s generation did just that. Today the average time on a job is somewhere between 2-4 years continuous, depending on what source you’re reading and demographics. When I hear of people who have worked for the same company for the last 15-20 years I find it amazing. Personally, the 5.5 years I spent in the military is the longest consecutive amount of time I’ve spent at a job. In many ways I don’t count that as one job. I went from one phase of training to the next and then I went to Afghanistan to bring all those skills together. It was very dynamic. I don’t know if you can count that as one job. I’ve heard older people (50 and above) give critique to the job hopping that younger people (40 and below) do. 2 years here and 1.5 years there. Maybe it’s for better money, better benefits, better work-life balance, a better culture, more opportunities for advancement etc. “This generation has no loyalty.” “This generation isn’t tough.” “They’re not willing to pay their dues!” On a case to case basis, some of that may be very true, but in my own case, the primary issue has been fulfillment.
I live by a core value I call the 300% Rule – Take 100% Ownership, Give 100% Effort, 100% of the time.
Essentially, this about learning to give life a whole hearted effort no matter what life is giving you. I talk about it all the time: death in the family, divorce, sudden onset disease/injury, job loss etc. Adversity is a real part of life and time has shown me that progress in life comes from the ability to keep moving forward in these times. Continue to exercise, continue to go to work with a good attitude, continue to keep the house clean, do the hard work of sorting through your emotions, have the courage to have difficult conversations with loved ones. The 300% Rule is about learning to dig deeper in the midst of turmoil and still do life well. It’s about learning to see through the cloud of our emotional response to chaos and press toward the existence that we want. More on this rule in another post…
As this rule relates to my own “Job Hopping”, I believe that it’s 100% better to walk away from a job if your attitude and effort begin to degrade, as opposed to hold on and allow your reputation to diminish. I’m a ‘work ethic’ guy. I believe you go all out in whatever you do or you don’t do it. When I hit a place with a work scenario where I just can’t find it in myself to keep my attitude in a good place, I move on. Are there jobs where I could resign myself to coasting under the radar with a half-hearted effort? Of course there are, but that’s not something I can be satisfied with from myself. I understand that bills have to be paid but I also understand that my getting the most out of myself is highly contingent upon being engaged with the work that I chose to do. This is a good place to say that I don’t believe that everyone has to operate in this mindset as it relates to work. I do think it’s a helpful attitude to adopt if you are determined (as I am) to make a living doing work you are passionate about. I also would argue that spending 40+ hours a week, doing work that you’re just so-so about, is going to shape your view of life as a whole. Does that so-so attitude affect how you view your family/friends? Does it inform to some extent how you view other processes in life? The minimum is enough, right? Gotta pay the bills, right?
I can’t answer these questions for others but one of the things that I am determined to represent to others (in particular young people) is someone who lives a life of purpose. When I speak to aspiring Entrepreneurs, College Students, Teenagers, or others in big life transitions, my greatest hope for them is that I be a source of inspiration and a voice of reality. This might be harsh for some to read, but how inspiring is a life lived just to pay the bills? You work an 8 hour work day, you spend at least another 2 hours between commute/preparation/decompression from the work day, and assuming you sleep at least 6 hours a night, that’s 16 total hours a day. 16 hours just going through the motions or asleep. What is that building in a person? There is so much concern about mental health among young people and why kids seem to lack resilience these days. My question for all of us is, what is it that we are giving kids to look forward to? What are we asking them to be resilient for?
- Graduating College and gaining weight every year thereafter and becoming less and less mobile due to a desk job?
- Being in debt into your 50’s or later when you finally pay off that 30 year mortgage only to sell the house at a later point because your health is in such poor shape that you can’t care for the house anymore?
- Working day after day to have stuff that you don’t need and potentially don’t get that many opportunities to even use (motorcycles/boats/rv’s/maybe you home) because you’re at work all the time?
- Sucking it up in a marriage for 18 years until the kids are gone and then imploding on one another because you’ve been too busy with the rat race to actually have a real relationship with your spouse?
Are these things supposed to inspire perseverance in kids? Are these the people that kids are supposed to learn grit and mental toughness from? I applaud every person that goes to work and earns an honest living and it takes tons of resolve to go and do the same job everyday for 30 years but sometimes I think it gets too much credit. 50 years ago, the American Dream was the good job with a pension, a house, marriage, 2 kids and a dog, and many people went after that and got it. However, there’s nothing in that dream that speaks to fulfillment in that ‘good job’ where you are going to spend a majority of your time. I’m pretty sure ‘good’ has always meant high pay and solid benefits. Perhaps, regardless of the toll it takes on your family and health.
Based on the date ranges I’ve looked up online, I fall into the Millennial Generation. We’ve been getting a lot of flack about work ethic and patience. The collection of personal experiences I have says that I don’t have those deficiencies! My issue is the fact that I believe that it is 100% possible to find and do work that your are extremely passionate about. It’s not easy…
- It requires lots of trial and error – What may look like frivolous ‘job hopping’ to some.
- It requires sacrifice – The energy and effort I put into free online content would floor some people.
- It requires courage – There are tons of risks associated with taking an unconventional path but conventional seems to lead to quiet desperation and I’m not settling for that.
- It requires mental toughness and a thick skin – You’ll get criticized because you think and live in a manner that is atypical.
We should think about whether or not those 30 year workers have regrets about things they wished they would have tried. We know that there are plenty of people who stay in jobs they hate because they’re afraid of the lifestyle shifts they’ll be forced to make if they leave. We should think about how we can adopt the patience that it takes to do the same work for 30 years and have a phenomenal attitude about it. Can we take that patience and apply it to the process of finding work we’re passionate about? Are we patient enough to hold off on the house? Are we patient enough to eat the same inexpensive food for years on end and be grateful for it? Are we patient enough to hold off on starting a family? Are we patient enough to keep getting paid barely anything from a job that could lead to work we truly are passionate about? Are we patient enough to stay in this process?
I was talking to a friend the other day and we both agreed that finding work that you truly enjoy is probably the hardest thing to do in this life. Even harder than finding a soulmate. My experience has been that it’s an absolute dog fight! It requires tons of mental endurance and resilience. Optimism is not an option. You had better find the good in every situation or you’ll find a comfortable spot in life and fill it with all sorts of things to distract and self medicate. Gotta get happy some kind of way, right?
Young people want to be excited about the future. I’ve found that my ability to encourage people through difficulty comes from the fact that I ‘know’. When I tell a group of teenagers that they can wake up everyday excited about what they do, I say it from a place of ‘knowing’. I also don’t hide the harsh realities of that process. I think kids appreciate that part the most. They want to know what they’ll have to battle with in order to get the most out of life. It takes someone who is actually trying to get the most out of life, to accurately and authentically convey the war that they’re about to engage in. If they choose to…
Until next time…