My Kingdom includes a Rusty Ford Fiesta and an Office Above a Smoky Bingo Hall: Why Career Success Can't Be Bought
Every morning, I'm living a life of my own design. But it doesn't look anything like you're probably imagining right now.
Every morning, instead of a feast of freshly-squeezed juice, an array of organic fruits, and delectable pastries, I have just enough time to grab a cup of coffee (which I inevitably spill on my sleeve and/or blouse before reaching the office), a protein bar, and a banana on my way out.
Instead of swinging into a luxury vehicle, my awaiting chariot is a rusty, but dependable, Ford Fiesta, with a windshield crack that I've lovingly named Conrad Caviar III (See, I can be fancy!).
Instead of arriving at a prestigious, sky-scraping workplace with a lavish corner office in the midst of the bustle of downtown, I pass the smoky bingo hall while I climb up to the Grade A headquarters and settle into my office with a magnificent view of...a pile of tires courtesy of the auto detailing and repair shop next door.
But here I sit, with a mug of coffee in hand, smiling like a damn fool in love. But why? After all, we're constantly told that we SHOULD want status, prestige, and wealth because those are all markers of success.
But what if I told you that maybe we have it all wrong? That your dream career isn't about your title, your salary, or the square footage of your office. That your dream career is about everything you are right now, and has nothing to do with who you should be.
Here are a few things I've learned over the past year to get me to the grinning-like-a-weenie point that I'm at!
1. Novelty is a one-night-stand, mastery is your soulmate.
We live in a society where NOT being obsessed with the "new" is a radical stance. Feel like your clothes are all last season? Get a new wardrobe! And what the heck are you still doing with a smartphone that can't take photos with a resolution high enough to see people's pores? Get yourself an upgrade!
Grabbing the latest iPhone model, or treating yourself to a new pair of sneakers won't crush your chances of success in business, but the mentality behind it might.
Focus and persistence is grueling, unsexy work. It means constantly being in unfamiliar territory and working through the discomfort of not knowing what the hell you're doing. It means resisting the seduction of just being "busy" throughout the workday and pledging allegiance to your growth.
If you want to progress in your career, you need to give up hopping from slot machine from slot machine, hoping to score a jackpot by chance, and start investing in your skills long term, by intention.
2. Keep SHOULD out of your vocabulary.
I recently got an email from a connection on Linkedin that sparked this entire article. They explained that they were happy for me that I had chosen to launch a business and that they worried if they should want the same. That they enjoyed not being a boss and wondered if they were a loser because they didn't have the desire to move up beyond their current role.
It made me so upset. Not at the sender, not even at myself, but that society has put so much pressure on people to conform to whatever we deem "successful", and that definition is constantly changing depending on the trends.
"There is just one thing that you should do to be successful:keep comparisons out of your career decisions."
My network includes people of every industry and position, and so does my family. My older brother, Andre Alexis, won the most prestigious literary award in Canada last year. He was just shy of his 60th birthday when his mastery finally paid off (quite literally). But was he successful before he "made it"? You bet he was! He was living fully in his purpose.
3. Treat yourself like a job applicant for your own career
This one is for you if you're stuck in a job and wondering if it's time to move on. Often, you're too close to a situation to see it clearly, or the answer is too difficult to face.
Open a document, and share the details of your current job, as if you were an HR rep about to share it on Indeed. Once you're finished, take a good look at the description in its entirety. If you saw your own career online, would you hit the submit button? If the answer is no, start examining the reasons why not.
4. Stop focusing on having, and start being.
Confession time: I used to be a shopaholic. Dusty stilettos and cocktail dresses with the tags still attached to them still spill out of my closet.
"Just one more ______ and I'll finally be happy!" I would tell myself.
When work stress hit, my wish list and shopping carts grew. After years in an ill-fitting career, I decided to go bigger. I would buy myself a Louis Vuitton GM while away on holidays. After all, how could anyone with a luxury purse like that POSSIBLY be unhappy?
It felt wonderful, and it was just as beautiful as I had imagined. But, the next morning, I woke up in a panic. My new purse had betrayed me. It hadn't made me return home with any less dread. I was still unfulfilled, but now with an overdraft.
It isn't wrong to want nice things, or to treat yourself, to be clear. The problem begins when you depend on those items to numb you from the pain of your own life, to escape from the reality of your circumstances. A Chanel quilted double flap classic won't make your boss less of a jerk, and a Porsche Boxster isn't going to make missing family milestones any easier.
Success isn't for sale. Fulfillment is the alignment of your beliefs with your behaviour. When you believe that you are doing meaningful work, you realize that the things in life that have no price tags, are the very ones that are worth striving for.
Hi there! I hope you enjoyed this article! If you did, I would love if you could share this with your friends/family/network. Also, comment below, I LOVE hearing from you!
Rock on and have a wonderful day!
Love and coffee, Your friend Michaela