Just Say “No” to Unnecessary Detours

I’m going to say a few things in this blog post that may seem contradictory. For example, I’m going to make it sound as though I like my job, even though I hate my job. Bear with me. This is a blog post of subtlety and nuance.

Retail Regrets

The job I have today is a job I accepted out of desperation. Employers weren’t lining up to interview the 37 year old ex-attorney. Although I can only speculate about their reasons, it’s fair to assume that they either thought I was grossly-overqualified, forced out of the legal profession for misconduct, or that my application was a joke of some kind. I can’t really blame them. Though it is a shame – in principle – that so many opportunities are closed off to a person with increased education and experience. And so, it was something of a minor miracle that I was offered a job at all.

But it is a job that pays less now than I was paid 20 years ago, fresh out of high school and with no work experience. It is a job that sends me home at the end of each shift exhausted and sore. Every morning, the muscles of my feet are so tight that they feel like they are being ripped apart during my first minutes out of bed. The general manager is an asshole, as are a few of my coworkers. I am limited in my ability to travel on account of my work schedule and lack of vacation time. And being in retail goes against all of my values as a minimalist and anti-consumerist.

My intention was to accept this job to stop the bleeding of my savings account while searching for a better job. Then, once I had a better job, figure out something – a business or location-independent job – that would get me back out on the road permanently.

Only So Many Hours in a Day

Unfortunately, I work 8-10 hours a day. Add in 30 minutes for a commute and 8 hours for sleep, and I have between 6-8 hours a day to make meals, take a shower, take care of Remy, and do whatever else needs to be done around the home. Plus I have my two days off each week.

No big deal – that’s roughly the same schedule most Americans have. Except that when you come home as tired and as sore as I do, you don’t really feel like doing anything. Least of all conducting a proper job hunt. I was already two months on the job before I successfully got enough work done to start submitting applications again. I had sought advice from a job placement expert on how to revise my résumé. She suggested that I obfuscate my past work experience to try to trick employers into granting me interviews. That required a lot of research and strategic editing, all of which took time. And the result from my first batch of submissions after those revisions? Immediate rejections.

The Despised but Tolerable Job

Something happened a couple of weeks ago – I finally started to settle in to the job. Although I go home sore and my feet kill me in the morning, most of the rest of my body seems to have adjusted to the physical rigors of the job.

Intellectually, I was finally able to piece together enough information to understand my job and understand the natural rhythms of the store. I’m better at anticipating workloads and solving problems. Upon promotion, my newest assistant manager immediately issued me stocking credentials. And once I got a taste for that, I requested and soon thereafter was awarded inventory credentials. (These are security numbers that authorize me to make changes to our inventory counts in both overstock and on the sales floor.)

Most of my coworkers and bosses assume I’m positioning myself for a promotion. I’m not. I don’t want the crappier hours and increased responsibility. I do want to justify a pay raise when I’m eligible in February. But the appearance that I’m angling for a promotion has taken the edge off of my more contentious work relationships.

Skip Over the First Step

Almost any job would be an improvement over my current job. But it could be months, even years, before I find a better job. And what then? I’ll still have a job that restricts my ability to travel. Except I will have wasted all of my time searching for a better job rather than the path that gets me back out on the road.

Goals

“I find that when I skip over the first step and move right to the second step, it becomes a lot harder for people to say no.”
– Congresswoman Andrea Wyatt
The West Wing (“Ellie” S2E15)

And that’s when I realized, I shouldn’t bother looking for a new job. I should devote all of my time, energy, and resources – limited as they are – toward my ultimate goal. Looking for a better intermediate job is a waste of that time and energy. So long as this job is tolerable, a better job is an unnecessary detour.

PathShould an opportunity for a better job fall into my lap, I’ll take it, of course – don’t be ridiculous. But I’m no longer going to waste my time and energy on something that will still yield an unsatisfactory result. My focus needs to be on the business or job that will get me back out on the road.

Risks

By no means is this a safe play. As I said, I’m making less money now than I was 20 years ago. Thank god I’m a minimalist. But I still have expenses. I’m barely scraping by. I’ve slowed the bleeding of my bank account to a slow trickle, but I haven’t stopped the bleeding. I can’t afford health insurance right now. So a major medical problem or a major vehicle repair is all it would take to do me in.

Although my truck is in good shape and I hope to milk five to ten more years out of her, she is now ten years old. Even if I can stave off replacement costs for some time, I can start to expect more expensive repairs and maintenance. That part has already begun.

And I don’t trust the general manager at my store. By no means do I think my job is even remotely secure.

Procrastination

I’ve been dragging my feet on business plans in the hopes that I can work something out with friends. But at some point, if I can’t get them to commit, I need to break away and move forward independently. I’m not getting any younger, I don’t think I have that many years left in my anyway, and I can’t afford to keep working this low wage job. I have to get moving on a viable business plan.

Or, quit my job, leave everything behind, and figure out as I go along. Other people do it. Why can’t I?

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