You’ve got a good job. It pays your bills, you’re not *too* stressed out, and, for the most part, you like your boss and coworkers. Heck, on most days, you even enjoy going into work. If you move up, you’re going to have to deal with a new boss, a new office, maybe some new staff. Add in to that the new responsibilities, and about 20 more ways to get yourself into deep trouble and stress out, going after that promotion right now might not feel like the smartest move. Think you’re alone and that only a crazy person would pass up the professional elevation?
When the economy went through a bit of a reset last year, people started taking a good look at their priorities, evaluating what was really important to them. Many lost the thoughts of “movin’ on up” in the corporate world while they tried to keep what they currently had in tact through layoff after layoff. No one particularly enjoyed the recession or the effect that it had on our budgets of patience, finances, and growth. But people have come to appreciate some of the gifts that a recession brings. Billboards like this one started popping up with Recession 101 lessons. People lost the disposable income to purchase happiness and had to find a way to synthesize it on their own for a change. They re-prioritized what mattered in their lives.
And many of them found that they’re actually quite happy, right where they are.
I have a friend who is an excellent example of this mentality. He’s a very smart guy, and overall, he’s pretty driven. He has a job that he “doesn’t hate,” and his only complaints are the occasional stupid policy decrees that are handed down from the head office. If they would stop messing with the dress code where he works, he’d be exceptionally content in his professional life.
And it drives me nuts.
Maybe on some level I’m jealous of his ability to find such a peaceful balance with the universe. It could be that I’m holding on to an antiquated 80s era ladder climber mentality while he’s successfully embraced the 60s hippie I’ve always wanted to be, deep down.
But, I think at the heart of it, it comes down to this: He’s prioritizing growth in other areas of his life, and I’m prioritizing growth in my professional life. We’re both in that (gulp!) just-turning-30 age range, having left the keggers and LAN parties of our early 20s long behind us (Okay, maybe not the LAN parties…). We’re both successful adults in stable relationships who work hard, and we both happen to share our homes with insane dogs. But while I’ve thrown my energy into growing my business and gaining clients and credibility this last year, he’s put his energy into… I think Call of Duty 4, most recently. He has prioritized being content, and has achieved that task BEAUTIFULLY. As a general rule, this is a guy who wants what he has.
And, the truth is, many days, I envy him for that.
Then I look at all I've achieved and learned in the last year and realize that I wouldn't trade all the hard work that I've put in or the growth I've been through for anything. The process of becoming who I want to be is of infinite value...and I always have time later to make that contentment thing happen.
So which one of us is right? It turns out both of us are. What’s important to a person is never a matter of right or wrong. It’s just a matter of priorities. The next time you’re looking at that rising star leasing consultant who doesn’t want to take a job as assistant manager because they, “just enjoy leasing,” or you’re speaking with the area property manager who wants to take a step back to, “spend more time with her kids,” don’t think less of them just because their priorities aren’t in line with yours. If they are meeting the needs of the job that they’re in, then don’t hassle them if they’re not growing on the schedule you had planned for them. This just might not be their professional growing season. After all, Call of Duty 4 IS a pretty good game.