“…and not the destination, why do I still work here?”
That’s the question I was asking myself on the drive to work this morning. I’d started my day reading a chapter in Zach Davis’ book “Appalachian Trials” and my mind was on the subject of my thru-hiking adventure next year. Running through my mind were the many accounts I’ve read of others’ thru-hiking experiences, and how they stated over and over that while reaching Mt. Katahdin in Maine was their ultimate ‘goal’, the hike itself was far more important than achieving the northern terminus of the AT.
I feel like a fraud today. I am, mentally, physically and financially preparing myself for the adventure of a lifetime, reading story after story confirming the saying, “Life’s about the journey, not the destination,” and yet simultaneously I hate “the journey” of my 9-5 work day so I can reach my “destination” of thru-hiking the AT next year. #hypocrite
I have two choices:
1) Quit my job
2) Don’t quit my job
If I quit my job,or find a job in a more personally rewarding career I will probably experience feelings of euphoria for taking a stand on the direction of my career and my life. But I’d also be swapping one set of stressors (unfulfilling work) for another (financial). I’d also lose my bonus next month and the chance to switch careers within my current company, both of which would render next year’s thru-hike nearly unobtainable from a financial perspective. So that’s probably not my best option.
If I don’t quit my job I will continue showing up but not really “showing up”. I’m an ENFP surrounded by ISTJ’s and ESTJ’s; these guys love this finance & budget stuff! They want to get promoted; I consider that a fate worse than death. Well, not really, but I don’t want to move up this corporate ladder. I look at my various bosses and think, “Thank God I don’t have to do that.” I finish every day emotionally exhausted, worn out from doing nothing but sit in front of a computer screen and work on Excel for hours on end. I don’t think that’s how this ‘career thing’ should work…so far, this option isn’t sounding great, either. But if I stick with it there’s a good chance I’ll be able to save enough cash for next year’s thru-hike, and I may be able to come back to an entirely new role. This knowledge lifts me a bit…until I come back to the realization that life is about the journey, not the destination.
What good is reaching the AT next year if I’ve hated every day between now and then? I feel that the pressing question is:
“How can I make the journey of the next nine months a valuable experience?”
In other words: How can I make going to work at a job I don’t like, in a career I’m not cut out for and will never really succeed in, be a successful journey and thus be true to life? Some thoughts immediately come to mind:
- Find sources outside of work for personal fulfillment and growth. Perhaps I’m asking too much of my job; perhaps my career shouldn’t have to provide for my every emotional need…
- Treat the tough work days like the tough trail days to come. There will be crappy days on the AT; all sources agree on this. I can treat my worst days in the office as opportunities to build up my mental toughness
- Focus on the daily progress I make toward my financial goal. Realize that every day on this “work journey” gets me a few dollars closer to Springer Mountain next May
- Remember that making a positive impression on the company now will directly impact whether they allow me to transition later
- Remember that life involves pleasure and pain. Revel in the fact that I am alive and that I’m lucky enough to be struggling with these issues. View each challenging day as an opportunity to learn more about myself, to see each moment as an opportunity to grow
What are your feelings about the phrase, “Life is about the journey, not the destination”? Do you live your life this way? Do you have an example you’d be willing to share?