In the beginning, there was nothing. Then, God created Man and other things (for more details, refer to the religious text that you agree with the most). Man did not have much to do in the beginning. He would begin his day with a lazy yawn, walk out of his cave with his club, bash the head in of the first animal he came across and enjoy a hearty breakfast. He would then lie on the forest floor and stare at the sky until it was lunch time. He will repeat the ‘breakfast process’ for lunch, followed by a few leisurely hours of cave drawings and then bashing heads again in the evening for his dinner. Finally, he would search for his female mates and club them unconscious and drag them into his cave for his night-time entertainment. Life was simple in those days!
However, one of the enterprising guys decided to discover fire while another one invented the wheel. Pretty soon, agriculture started and was followed by small and mid-sized businesses. One of the more self-righteous ones decided that it was easier for people to work together rather than alone and this gave birth to the first ‘organization’! Well, things have been going down-hill ever since then, as people started to get paid to be part of an organization and do their two cents of work. Also, since the organization heads did not want everyone to be equal but always be in a constant state of turmoil, decided to invent the organization hierarchy. One of the off-shoots of this was the development of designations or job titles.
Most of you who have spent at least 5 years in a company will now be comparing your job titles with that of your friends. You will spend hours browsing your friends’ linked–in profiles to see what they are doing now. You will embellish your own credentials – Call center representative will become ‘Customer Management Specialist (Voice)’ while a secretary will become an ‘Executive Assistant’. The other dimension that you will be comparing yourself with others will be the salary that you are able to bring home every month.
These factors have become so important that many MBA students use these two criteria to decide which company they will join at the completion of their studies! It is not surprising to see Banks and Consulting firms lapping up the brightest candidates each year – after all, you get paid big bucks and if you join a bank, you start as an ‘Assistant Vice President’! However, are these really that important?
Let me be honest here and say that I will not advise you to ‘follow-your-passions and not just look for high paying jobs’. Because, if I do, I will be bull-shitting you. As someone who also followed the time-tested approach of looking for the highest paying job, I feel that is the most logical thing to do. However, once you have spent a couple of years at your job and seen what it offers, it is time to take stock of your situation! If you are not enjoying your job, then it probably means that you need to look outside for alternatives (it could also mean that you are incompetent and suck at your job, but then that is the topic for another blog post).
However, never leave your job for the wrong reason. So, your company has decided to stop its ‘work from home’ policy? Now, you can no longer goof around in your pajamas and write your blog posts when you should be working instead (not based on my personal situation!). Is that a good reason for you to quit?
Well, here are a few reasons to avoid, while deciding whether you want to switch careers or not!
#1 You are not passionate about what you are doing!
No one can be passionate about anything 100% of the time. You may have started at your job being passionate about it, but life is all about doing mind-numbing things on a repeated basis. If you thought you loved wildlife photography, it will also mean that you will have to travel to extremely remote locations, spend days and nights in dangerous, mosquito-infested locations to take a photograph of a rare bird and then you may finally not get anything to show for your effort (and the pay will suck too!). There will be occasions when you want to pull out your hair, kick yourself for ever getting into that line of work and go back home to your cave! In such situations, what you should do is to see if are good at what you do and if you see yourself doing this sort of work 5 years down the line. If not, then time to move on.
#2 I am a manager while my friends from school are all Chief Officers or Vice Presidents
As I said earlier, titles are the inventions of a particularly nasty group of HR managers, intended to keep people divided and motivated to work their way up the organizational hierarchy. First of all, titles are not comparable. The head of the USD 13 Bn business conglomerate Sahara India is known as the ‘Managing Worker’. Similarly, you join commercial banks as the Assistant Vice President. So, if you are using that as the criteria for moving on from your job, do not do so! What you should focus on, is the content of your job and what will the new option offer you in terms of scope of work, learning opportunities and span of responsibilities.
#3 My salary is lower than that of my friends / colleagues
We have all been in this situation before. When we go to the B-school reunion, you notice that all your friends own 3 or 4 apartments in high rises in prime localities or drive luxury cars or both. Remember that salary is a payment for the kind of work that you put in. What you should compare is also the time they get to spend with their families, pursue their hobbies and interests and generally maintain a healthy lifestyle. These are all intangibles and may not seem worthwhile to you now, but these are the ones that will matter as you move on ahead in life.
#4 I want to do something on my own
You have the vague feeling that you probably should go out and set up your own business. I am not advocating that you give up those thoughts. By all means do so! But for your sakes, do the necessary research before you do so! Don’t just make fancy business plans and excel models predicting your business revenues for the next 25 years – talk to your potential customers, talk to people out there who are doing similar stuff to see whether your idea is indeed worthwhile. Making excel models is the easy part, but figuring out whether this idea makes sense is more important.
What are your thoughts on the above? Do you agree / disagree? Have you come up with any other reasons for quitting your jobs or looking for an alternative career?