This morning, I had coffee with a friend who’s terrified about her career choices. She’s nervous that she’s wasting her time in an industry with no future…and maybe she is, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
I have a unique perspective on this. I’m like the grim reaper of industries. If there’s an industry that’s been disrupted and crippled by technology, chances are I did time there.
- Newspaper industry? I watched it crumble around me.
- Taxi company? Rocked that before Uber and Lyft got to it.
- Car dealership? Yeah that happened. It was a HUMMER dealership too, so I get double points for a car they don’t even make anymore.
- Radio station? I was the freshest thing on the FM dial right about the time you started using Pandora.
- Hell, I even managed a Blockbuster Video for a summer.
In each of those instances, I was miserable at least 50% of the time. Even if you love the work, it’s a scary and depressing thing to be stuck in a job where you don’t see a future. Life is short right?
It’s easy it is make the wrong career choice, and you know what? That’s awesome.
How The Wrong Job Can Be A Good Thing
When you’re young, everyone tells you how important it is to choose the right path, make good decisions, and have a direction. There’s logic to that…but where’s the fun in logic? If I operated purely on logic, I never would have married my wife or sucker-punched that grizzly bear in the face (don’t ask). Both of those were awesome decisions.
This isn’t 19th century England. If you decide to be a blacksmith, you aren’t making a life-long commitment. Mistakes are part of the game.
I have a decade of career mistakes, failures, and frustration under my belt. More than that, I have the mistakes and failures of the people I worked for under my belt as well. I have a playbook of what not to do if you want a business to thrive. This is the opportunity in your “bad career move.” Seem like a stretch? Its not.
Today I have a job I love, in an industry I’m passionate about, doing work that challenges and excites me every day. If it weren’t for years of bad experiences, I wouldn’t value this as much as I do.
That’s not to brag…if I wanted to brag, I’d just do it. I’m incredibly vain. What I’m telling you is that there’s value in your shitty job.
But there’s a caveat: You have to use the opportunity.
Using the Opportunity
I had a boss once who loved to say, “I know it’s not fun…that’s why we pay you to be here.” Kind of a cop out for a shitty work environment, but there’s some sense to it.
Your company is paying you to prepare for, and figure out your next move. Spend your time learning everything you can. Learn the mistakes, and the strengths of the leadership. Learn the industry. Learn tactics. Develop your own playbook. And work on as many side projects as possible. They’ll keep you sane, keep you sharp, and one day, you’ll want to leverage those for the right job.
But in the meantime, this is also your opportunity to try some crazy shit at work. Take risks and get aggressive. Maybe you’ll be the one to disrupt your industry. And what’s the worst that could happen…You lose the job you hate?