About the Author
Himanshu is a Chartered Accountant with nearly two decades of experience, serving as a Partner in a Global Consulting Firm. When not working or biking, you can find him reading, playing volleyball, and spending time with his family. In this article, he shares his philosophy on how to make the right career choice.
I am 39.
And, I still don’t own a Porsche in my garage. But I do own a car that I love, and my contemporaries envy.
I don’t (yet) own a mansion or a large summer home. But I do own a house that is desired by many (not just my contemporaries.)
Even though I don’t own that mansion that houses the Porsche, I am happy with my job.
I am happy with my job.
To be clear, I am not one of those, one-in-a-million-lucky-entrepreneurs, who had a Eureka moment. I didn’t come up with the idea that apparently changed the world and surely gave millions in return. I have a consulting job.
Consulting – a job which is highly demanding, extremely stressful, and very boring. It is driven by revenue targets, involves a boss, and worse – it requires managing a team.
My day starts at 9 AM on all weekdays. Yet, I am happy, and I find myself extremely motivated to be at work every morning – even after completing 19 years of working almost every day.
No, I am not a monk and or someone who is forced to stick to a single career choice. To this date, I get a job offer once every four weeks, but I continue to stay at the same organization, working on the same subject. And yes, I do see myself working like this for the next 21 years before I hang my boots (preferably in my summer mansion on the hills!)
What worked for me, you might ask?
I think my mid-life crisis hit me in the early 20s. In spite of my bashful arrogance of youth; I had my own Eureka moment (thankfully, no apples dropped on my head.) I figured that changing my job without understanding why I want to change is the most significant damage I would do to my career.
I was working on the subject of my liking that I chose myself. I invested five years on that subject. When I was making upward strides in learning further, I was thinking of leaving my job because of the clichéd:
When I was a kid, my father used to tell me to write down, dispassionately, the pros and cons of a problematic decision-making situation. Invariably, that one page would provide me with all the answers (well, almost all) I needed to fix my situation.
The subtle art of jotting down the pros and cons
Faced with my early mid-life crisis, I wrote down the reasons why I should look for a new job on the left side of my well-tabulated sheet. On the right side, I jotted the reasons why I should continue with the same job.
The usual suspects who marched their way to the left side of the sheet were stress, targets, boss, subordinates, timings, and many more in the likes of it. One look at the suspects and I realized that they would always be there in any job I do. On the right side, I had only one reason scribbled in – my subject matter expertise or the “core” of my job. This Goliath of a reason was the only thing that truly matters. And I am happy with that. This was when I realized just how important it is to truly love what you do at work.
My hypothesis on making the right career choice:
I hypothesize that every job that we engage in for some reward have close to 80 percent common factors. These factors could be clients, deadlines, work pressure, stress, targets, irritating people, and so on. The remaining 20 percent variation account for the core of the job.
For instance, the focus of a doctor’s job is medicine, and rockstar’s job is music. However, the other 80 percent factors exist in the lives of both. The doctor has patients coming in all the time with ailments unknown to anyone. Their work hours are crazy, and they have to be by their patients’ side during casualty, irrespective of the working hours.
Rockstars are no different. They ought to ensure that every performance is better than the previous one. They are always on the road, meeting fans, performing, with no personal time whatsoever.
The only thing that differentiates any job is the work core
This is what I call the 20-cents of any job. Go ahead and compare any two jobs that you can think of. One of them can be something that you consider incredibly dull. The other can be a job that you envy. You will realize that both roles have the same villains; stress, deadlines, meetings, and so on. It is only the core that’s different. Do test this out and let me know your deductions.
So the next time you are tormented by the urge to do something new, do yourself a favor. Ask yourself if you want to opt for something new because of the 80-cents variables or the 20-cents variables.
If it is because of the core of your job, then change as soon as you can. However, if it is not, then you would be running away from your current 80-cents situation to find the same 80-cents chasing you in your new job.
Your circle of life will never be happy if you are seeking the wrong things. I wish for you to try this exercise to make the right choice.
Incidentally, when I shared this with my 12-year-old son, here’s what he had to say:
“Basically, grown-ups too need to get over the FOMO factor, just like us!!”
Upon reflection, I figured what I wrote in 800 words was easily capsulated in one short sentence by my son. Mid-life crisis indeed, though a different kind. I do have a follow-up piece in mind on how your-20 cents keep changing. But before I write that down, I will run it past my kids 🙂