Monday, May 30, 2011

Why “It’ll Pay the Bills” Can Be Dangerous (or “What’s the Endgame?”)

“I need this presentation by MONDAY.”

“This brief has to go out TONIGHT.”

“File that report by THIS AFTERNOON.”

A lot of people have high-pressure, high-stress jobs that force them into stressful situations like the above.  Many of those people got into their jobs thinking, “well, it’s not exactly what I want to be doing, but for now, it’ll pay the bills.”

Thoughts like these are incredibly dangerous.  Sure, we all need to pay the bills—if you didn’t pay the bills, you’d probably be living under a bridge right now, drinking cheap gin and scaring tourists.  I get it.  The problem is, a lot of those bills tend to inflate themselves to cover your paycheck.

Think back to what you wanted to do coming out of high school, or even college—and I mean what you really wanted to do—even something as stupid as “writing and starting on-line businesses.”  When you took something else because of the paycheck, did you ever think, “I’ll just do this for a couple of years, save up, and move on to something else?”  Did you find that, at the end of “a couple of years,” you had far less saved up than you thought you would?  How the cable bill turned into a $120 a month monster?  How your rent is probably a lot higher than it needs to be?  Would you be happier with less “stuff” and fewer services but a higher quality of life?  Why make the trade-off, then?

Now, think about how much shit you had to put up with to cover those “bills” that you had to pay.  All of the late nights or weekends you put in—and for what?  So that you could get bottle service?  So that you could make that payment on the fancy new car?  So that you could buy that TV that you never get to watch because you’re always working?

Think to yourself, “if I stay here another five, ten years, and put in all of the work for that long, what is the upside?”  If it’s “making VP” or “making partner,” is that something you really want to be doing with your life?  If the answer is “no,” either pull the cord now and get out or come up with a plan to pull the cord and stick to it.

This includes if you plan on starting up something as a hobby, but never seem to find the time to do so.  Far better to work at “just a job,” where you’ll have the ability to come home at the end of the day and work on what truly makes you happy.  Again, if this doesn’t sound like your job, find another one.  Or, start your own business doing something you want to do.  The bottom line is your happiness.  For some people, money and the things it buys makes them truly happy.  If this is the case, by all means, keep working that cash-cow of a job until the milk runs dry, and fucking enjoy it.  But if something doesn’t seem right and you make a good amount of money, spend a good amount of money, and still don’t seem happy, maybe it’s time to take a good, long look in the mirror and reevaluate the direction your life is headed.  You only get one shot at this thing, so make it count.

D.J. Gelner is a writer, entrepreneur, and recovering attorney in St. Louis, Missouri. You can e-mail him at Follow him on twitter @djgelner. Friend him on facebook here.

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