When I first moved to Ireland in 1998 I didn’t know anybody. I came to improve my English. I had some money with me so I wasn’t in total dire. I already came with a job agreed, to work in a hotel. After that job, I had a stream of other jobs. For a year or so, I worked in the hospitality industry, mainly in restaurants and pubs.
At first, it was a struggle to find a job. I was so shy I remember I would start walking in Grafton Street and end up in Rathmines. I used to pass restaurants and coffee shops and I walked miles before I dared myself to go in and asked if they had work available. Somehow, I survived and got jobs. Every time, it got a bit easier to ask for work.
After a year or so, I decided to change jobs and look for office work. Passion and looking for my dream job was not a consideration in my search for employment, just to be able to pay the bills. I preferred to look for work in which I had to speak in English to continue practising and improving it. I have to say I have always been into the humanities side of things. I have never been good at maths or science. But the demand in most office jobs is the maintenance of the daily accounts and other administrative duties. I tried my best but I was always really angry and deflated when after three months they wouldn’t take me on board. I took it personally. I couldn’t understand what was happening.
I continued like that for a couple of years until I took a job at customer service with a probation period of six months. We were about 5 or 6 new people starting together. We had a month’s training period. In that month, we got to know each other and had a good time. Then, we were “dropped on the floor” and the real job started. I probably knew pretty soon I didn’t like the working conditions in the job but nevertheless I remained, in part because I had been given a month’s training and some stupid sense of loyalty, in part because of my personality that I want to give things a good try and not quit, I tend to pick the hard way or the road less travelled.
As I stayed longer in the job, it got worse. I could see I was not getting any support from management, some customers were really angry, shouting at me and the working conditions were horrible. Nice office space but that’s about it. It was a very stressful job. I told myself I would stay six months just to have some experience in customer service; it would be good for my CV.
One morning I woke up with a pain in my neck. I actually heard a creak in my neck and I couldn’t move my head. I actually went to work that morning. I had to go back home because the pain was unbearable.
That was the beginning of my back problems. After that, I was in pain for nearly 10 years, all through my thirties.
At the end of the six months I decided to leave. I could not take a minute more. I had six months experience I could add to my CV. Somehow, the CV didn’t matter anymore.
Was it worth it?
I felt drained, I was in pain. All the money I made in that job, and probably more, went to pay doctors to sort out my back problem. It wasn’t that well paid anyway.
I still tried once more to get another job, again an office job, in accounts.
Looking back, I have learned that no job is worth my health.
If you are in a job you do not like or you are not passionate about eventually catches up with you.
We spend at least 8 hours working. 8 hours doing work that brings us stress and bad moods. 8 hours of unhappiness.
I also noticed that every time something happened in which I felt unsupported or unfairly treated I got sick. I would get a cold or flu. I got disillusioned with the job. That would have been my signal to start looking for another job. Did I look for another job? No, I didn’t. I would wait until the three probation period ended and then I would be angry when they wouldn’t keep me, when I knew it wasn’t working for me anyway. I felt rejected.
In all the job interviews, it always came up the fact that I was overqualified. I always tried to do my best since I was quite perfectionist and I would end up burned up very quickly because I was constantly trying to be perfect and make no mistakes at all.
Every time something happens 2 or 3 times there is a pattern. A pattern is an opportunity for learning, an opportunity for change. Unfortunately I didn’t know that at the time.
After that, I withdrew from the working world. I didn’t want to work for anybody. I decided that if I ever went back to work I would work for myself.
I recently took an online personality test, something I strongly recommend to anybody in a job or looking for work. I think I have taken tests before but this one surprised me. It surprised me how accurate it was. How well it described me, even though if you had asked me to describe myself I would not have used those words. How it matched my personality to the best working environment for me. The penny dropped. I realised I had been working in the wrong kind of environment, totally unsuitable for me.
You think you know yourself but it could surprise you. It can make you look for a job that it is a better match for you. It can bring clarity to your search of creating an income from your passion.
Leave a job you are not passionate about
For most people, passion does not even enter the equation. A job is not something to be enjoyed, just to pay the bills. I hear it all the time particularly in American interviews: in order to be successful I worked really hard. The idea of working a lot of hours if you want “to make it” is quite prevalent. I never hear about living in a state of flow, effortlessness or taking it easy at work.
No amount of money is worth your health.
Your health is your wealth
When you don’t have health you realise you cannot enjoy life. You then have two problems: pay the bills and sort out your health, look for solutions to your pain.
If you do not have money problems and can quit your job, I would strongly recommend not to waste one single day in a job you dislike intensely or you don’t like or you don’t feel supported or motivated, drained, etc.
Can you afford to lose your health?
What’s more important? Your health or money? It’s time to reassess your priorities.
I think it all comes down to trust. To trust your body, to trust your intuition to guide you where you need to go, to trust that you are always going in the best direction. To listen to your inner guidance. To listen to those whispers, the discomfort, the dissatisfaction, the emptiness, whatever it is. Your body is trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore it because it’s not going away, it will only get worse until you start paying attention.
Here I am now: my number one goal for 2015 is to have a great income from my passion and talents.