Lessons I Learned Working at a Cushy Office Job
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” -Jim Carrey
You know those jobs people dream about? High-paying, low-workload, flexible, eeeeeasy.
I had that job. Here are some of the characteristics of the job:
- High-paying (I was making more than anyone I knew my age)
- Low workload (I could finish my 40 hours of work in under 10 hours most of the time)
- Chill boss (see: no boss — my department was without a boss for most of my time there, so people just did what they wanted)
- 12 minute commute
- Worked from home once a week
- Bi-weekly paid office “team builders” (see: parties with unlimited free alcohol, gourmet food, and awesome prizes)
- Paid conference travel accommodations across the country
The list goes on. Never before had I experienced such low stress at a job. Maybe you’ve had a job like this before.
For a while, I thought this was the “jackpot,” the job I would never have to leave. But as someone who worked at one of the cushiest office jobs out there, it’s not all its cracked up to be.
What follows is a list of lessons I learned about jobs like that.
1. I don’t want to work at a cushy office job
I had just left an extremely stressful phone sales role where my employment was constantly threatened. All I wanted was to work in a low-stress, cushy desk job.
Well, I did want that. But after the initial this-is-amazeballs feeling wore off, I realized this wasn’t what I wanted to do. Which sucked! Why can’t I just be happy here?! Why am I not satisfied with this?
It’s because I was made to wrestle bears, scale mountains despite muscle spasms, stagger back on my feet after spitting out my bloody teeth that were just punched out of my head.
Cushy office job don’t offer those. Mine didn’t. I wanted to be challenged, and grow stronger to overcome. I wanted scenarios to actually test out all the stuff I learned from Tim Ferris, Benjamin Hardy, and Carol Dweck.
As sad as my lazy, beer-belly-sporting counterpart might be about it, I needed a job that made me uncomfortable.
2. I don’t need a cushy office job to be happy in my career
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. -Gandhi
Sure, I loved bragging about my job.
But that didn’t make me “happy.”
I’m not rich or famous yet, but Jim Carrey’s quote always made me…uncomfortable. Wait — are you telling me this won’t work? All this effort I’ve put towards the sole goal of becoming rich and famous?
Tim Ferris says people are tricked into thinking “having a million dollars” is what will make them happy. Actually, it’s not. The lifestyle that “having a million dollars” provides you is what you want — more time to spend with your family, working only when you want to, traveling.
The thing is, you don’t need a million dollars to have that life. You don’t need a cushy office job, either.
3. I hadn’t “arrived”
“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” — Dalai Lama
It was kind of weird getting the “dream job” a few years out of college, the same job so many people work their whole careers to reach. Because you’re forced to ask yourself, “well…what next?”
I didn’t arrive at the finish line like, 40 years in advance. The job was boring. I was staring at Excel sheets and my email all day. I was going to meetings about other meetings.
Of course, people listening to me brag about my job would think first, he’s a jerk, and second, I wish I had a job like that, which would make me think I had arrived.
“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a Cornell University psychology professor who specializes in studying the relationship between money and happiness.
“We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them,” Gilovich says.
I adapted to my cushy office job, and I was left wanting something more.
4. It makes running a side-business way harder
In Jon Acuff’s book, Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job he talks about how much more difficult you make the rest of your life when you practice doing the minimum amount of work 40 hours a week, every week.
How can you possibly switch gears from “only doing enough work so my boss doesn’t fire me” to “develop an entire business from scratch during mornings, evenings, and weekends”?
You can’t be a committed lazy person for 40 hours a week and be a powerfully productive person as soon as you get home. You become a gray mess of both — feeling guilty for not working harder at your job, fighting laziness when you sit in front of your computer at home.
Better to be one or the other.
“Every aspect of your life affects every aspect of your life.” -Benjamin Hardy
In short: the habits you develop at your job carry over to everything else.
This is high-level thinking. Most individuals will fail to recognize this.
Cushy office jobs are actually detrimental to your personal growth, because they don’t challenge you.
At first they’re great, but they become golden handcuffs, keeping you cozy in an environment that doesn’t foster career or personal development.
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