This Sunday, I woke, poured my morning cup (or two or three) of coffee and turned on the television. I began flipping through the channels to see what I could watch before I fired up my laptop to begin blogging. I stumbled across a classic, Office Space, and had to watch the rest of the movie. It is one of those movies I have to watch to the finish line, regardless of whether I started watching at the beginning, middle or the end. Even though I have watched the movie time and time again, there was something different about watching it this weekend.
The movie has always resonated with me because it represented everything that I did not want in a career. Since I studied accounting, I knew I would start my career working for some organization focusing on selling X product or providing X service. This was prior to my decision to start in public accounting, when during my college years it seemed as if every large corporation and public accounting firm in Ohio would wine and dine you and other students to convince them why their internship or rotational program was better for your career than the others. Through this, I always knew that I did not want to work for some large company where I would sit at a desk every day, pushing papers, updating meaningless spreadsheets, and creating reports for some unknown internal use. Sounds a lot like Initech, right? No, I wanted to find an organization where I felt my actions and hard work will make a lasting impact daily. Sounds cliché, I know, and I’m sure that everyone feels that way.
That’s why watching Office Space was different this time. Because after resisting becoming a part of the machine and sticking true to my passions and desires when landing my first job in public accounting, I realized I put myself in the one position that I promised myself I wouldn’t. After I switched jobs earlier in the year, I had become Peter Gibbons. That’s me. I am one of those employees that works for a large corporation that continues to perform X meaningless function and producing X meaningless report. Slowly and surely, over the last few months, I have fallen far off of the emotional high that a new job provides you with and faced the reality of the passionate-less “I am going to show up, do my job, go home” mentality that everyone at Initech and unfortunately way too many unsatisfied employees possess. I am usually an energetic happy-go-lucky guy most of the time, but I would come home from work every day feeling emotionless, tired, and boring….yes, boring. I hate the feeling and I hate the fact that I had to subject my fiancé, family and friends to the feelings as it surely trickled down to them.
I have found myself at a crossroads. Even though I hate the position, I was still progressing at a faster pace than my colleagues and showing my ability to move up the corporate ladder. We all have heard the pitches from management: stay in line, perform well, show promise and you will be rewarded one day. When that day comes, you will be compensated with a nice raise and possibly a promotion when the next position opens up (who actually knows when that will be). Just stay in line, stay a part of the machine and you will be taken to prosperity. The sales pitch sounds great and since we are all chasing financial freedom, the dollars (and dividend income– since we love to invest our savings into these great dividend growth stocks) that come with climbing the ladder can be attractive. But is it worth going through the motions and climbing the ladder if the motions leave you feeling… well… emotionless? I have asked myself that question so many times over the last few months and arrive at the same conclusion every single time.
Do you all know where I am going with this? Last week, I resigned from the position that I accepted just a few months ago and I am heading back to my former employer and back into public accounting. I got one heck of a sales pitch from one of my best friends (Take a guess who that is everyone!) and it was time to return home to my first employer. Think about everything I wrote in the last few paragraphs, the feelings I had at work were not right and were not healthy. The project I was pitched and the “positive noise” we were making in the company were not as satisfying as I thought they would be. Life is too short to be miserable and I care too much about trying to make a difference in my own or someone else’s life to continue to sit behind a desk, being a man in the corporate machine, and preparing memo after memo that would just be filed away in the accounting departments internal files. Worst of all, my professional growth came to a screeching halt as well. While it may work for some, it just was not the right fit for me. While public accounting has its disadvantages (with work-life balance typically being number 1 on the list), I missed the interaction with clients, helping them with their problems, training those who were younger than me, the satisfaction that came with completing a complete audit cycle and most importantly, learning from the one person that I have grown to respect more than any other person over the last few years.
So now that this chapter is coming to an end, I wanted to pass along the best lesson this experience has taught me. Don’t be afraid to make a change. Unfortunately, as a part of our human nature, we can be our own worst enemy and put up road blocks that prevent us from achieving greatness or pursuing what makes us happy in life for whatever reason. If there is something that is causing you pain and is a negative in your life, don’t be afraid to begin getting the ball rolling on a solution that will one day alleviate this from your life. Whether that is going back to school to get a degree, working at building a website that will one day allow us all to hand in our employer name badge and become our own boss (Thanks for the inspiration on this one Jason – Dividend Mantra), or even placing a call to the recruiter…TAKE ACTION. Your life is in your hands and only you know what is best for you. I’m not saying the change has to be immediate, but put together a plan, start the engine, and drive towards the change that will make your life better.
Okay everyone, I promise I am done with the clichés. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last year and changes I’ve gone through. We are all making moves and heading in the right direction, so let’s continue to push ourselves to be the best we can be and reach financial freedom as soon as possible! Let’s make the most of our lives and put ourselves in the position to make the greatest impact, that provides us and the one’s we love with the best experiences.