Some people work to live; others live to work.
I am definitely in the “work to live” camp for the simple reason that to me, work is more like a punishment. I have been in my chosen career for almost thirty years and while interesting, fascinating and captivating at first, my job has become a major chore.
As I get older, I want more freedom. Some people want that freedom when they are younger which is why they delay leaping into the rat race for year or so to go travelling and explore the world. I did a little bit of travelling as a student but now I simply have an almost overwhelming desire to pack in my job and simply leave on a huge trip of exploration and self-discovery.
While I may curse my chosen career, I can’t deny that my job has encouraged me to do this.
Because my job involves travelling the world – not all of the time – but enough to give me a small taste of freedom.
In fact, I am off on my travels again this weekend, my third visit to Oman this year.
You may think that I am a hypocrite; I have a job that allows me to visit other countries and cultures. I love travelling - so why the bloody hell am I moaning?
Allow me to explain.
First of all, I work in IT – basically I spend my entire day sparring with technology. And I am bored with it.
Second, the majority of my life is spent sitting at a desk in front of a laptop surrounded by people who are equally disillusioned and frustrated and at the mercy of decisions and developments governed by Mr Motivation as he does his best to climb to the top of the corporate ladder.
Finally, while I may get the option to travel to wonderful and interesting countries, I am effectively limited to trips between the hotel and the office with very little chance to explore and only tantalising glimpses of what I could be doing if I were free of the shackles.
I am in a Catch 22 situation; I need money to fulfill my desires – and I need to work to get the money – and the work stops me from fulfilling my desires.
And this is true of most people.
The solution is simple; find a career that you enjoy, a career that makes you smile with glee when you wake up and anticipate the joy of work. It seems to be too late for me now.
Some people may suggest that it is not too late but to those people I ask this: how can I change career when I can’t really do anything else?
I am risk averse and simply giving up what many people would consider to be a thriving, interesting and beneficial career in search of something else that will give me freedom and enjoyment, but with the same financial clout, would be absolute folly.
So I appear to be in a rut – and I can’t escape.
Outside work, I am very content and happy; when I am at work my life becomes a jumble of confusion, chaos and irritation. There are times when I get a buzz out of work but such times are becoming more infrequent.
And it would be just the same if I were to seek another job in IT in another company. At least the one I am in offers some form of sanctuary with occasional trips abroad. That’s what keeps me there.
Through my job I have visited places like Holland, the Caribbean, the United States, Canada, China, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong. I have become so enamoured with travel that I have visited many other varied and interesting places under my own volition, places such as Japan, Thailand, most of Europe and Australia.
If it weren't for my job, I would never have got together with Mrs PM in Hong Kong. I have a lot to be grateful for.
And it is now that I know what my ideal job would be; a travel writer.
There are drawbacks with that career, it has to be said.
First of all I have to be a good writer – I’m not.
Second I have to be able to fund numerous trips abroad – I can’t.
If I could see my time again, I would change my career choice and become a writer, training to actually improve the words I spill onto a page so that they make pleasurable and interesting reading instead of the inane twaddle that finds its way onto this blog.
The problem is that when you are young, you don’t know what you want; I alluded to this in a post about my schooldays last month.
Of course, another option is to work out a way to beat the system and win the lottery. The problem is that I have a logical, mathematical mind with a degree in computational and statistical science – and I know that the chances of my winning the lottery are about as close to zero as you can get.
You can’t plan a career on the off chance that you might win the lottery – despite what the lottery organisers tell you.
So, unless you know what you want to do and are passionate about doing it at an early age, when you can be trained and steered in the right direction before it’s too late, you will end up just like me, stuck in a rut in a stagnating career that provides money to live and perhaps give you a little enjoyment with a tiny taste of what your career might have been had you made the right choices as a kid.
That sounds depressing doesn’t it? And it makes me sound unhappy as well.
However, I’m not unhappy really – on the contrary – I am delighted with life.
I am also an optimist – I can’t help it – and I am still clinging onto the dream that one day circumstances might change in such a way that I can alter my vocation and wake up full of elation because I am going to work.
Anyway, I will discuss happiness in the next post to give you an insight on why I am happy despite moaning about my academic and occupational choices in life.
One day you might see a book on a shelf in your local bookstore with a picture of a grinning Plastic Mancunian called: The World Through My Eyes.
I can dream - can't I?
Don’t hold your breath though.
How about you dear reader?
Are you happy in your chosen career?
Do you want to do something else?
Do you think it is too late for me to leave the rat race and unleash myself onto the world?
Any tips for doing just that?