Rachel got me thinking the other day. She said that “young people KNOW what makes them happy”. We were having a conversation about what my next move should be and she implied that maybe I was on the right track when I was at university right before Natalie got died. In the 13 years that have past I hadn’t really considered that the younger me did know what he wanted out of life and instead felt that I could think my way onto the path. Her words really resonated with me.
At my new job as an IT recruiter I work with a lot of younger people. I’m the oldest person the team and while I bring a lot to the table in terms of life experience, maturity and a keen ability to connect with and engage others, I lack something that the younger recruiters have – mindless drive and ambition. I am all too aware of everything about my job and have a very difficult time looking past the next 2 years of extremely hard work to build my network and create enough relationships with people to see my way into higher earnings. I work hard and give it my all, but my all seems to be missing something that the younger people all possess; I know what two years of hard work feels like and I know what I’m going to have to sacrifice to be successful as a recruiter. At 35, it’s very hard to overlook these things if I’m not able to get lost in whatever it is I’m doing. Young people don’t seem to have this issue.
The recruiters who are in their early to mid-20’s have no difficulty with the hours, the time on the phone and all the paperwork. They seems to just exist in the role doing whatever is needed to be successful. They are highly driven and attack their jobs without so much as a thought about what they are going without by working so hard. The truth is that I am kind of jealous that they are able to function at work this way because they attack work the same way I attack my training and my passions. I think one of two things is happening – either they have found their passion in their job or they can’t tell the difference between work and passion so they approach them as the same thing.
I do recall a time when I was younger and working for Ranger Online. I approached the job with the same intensity and passion that I now direct towards cycling. While it did start to consume me, I can see the parallel between my behaviour during this time and the behaviour I see in the younger recruiters I now work with. It was easy to work extremely hard and lose myself in the job and I did so without thinking about it; something that I haven’t been able to do for more than a few months at a time since then. In fact, the length of time that I am able to stay committed to something that I don’t fully enjoy is getting shorter and shorter as time go on. It seems that my threshold is getting lower with each new experience.
So on Thursday when Rachel mentioned to me that maybe I was on the right path before and have been struggling to find my way back over the last decade, I was able to hear it. I’ll admit that I don’t find my professional life all that satisfying. Sure I do a good job and my bosses are happy with my performance but it’s a constant struggle to forget what I’m doing, forget that I don’t like what I’m doing or to stop thinking about what I’d rather be doing. I have no sense of surety or certainty with my professional actions – I know that I’ll advance my career if I do them, but I rarely feel like I’m on the right track. As such, I don’t work mindlessly and my ambition sorely lacking.
What if I was right when I was younger? What if I had yet to be impacted by life experiences and was simply doing what I was passionate about and enjoyed? Wouldn’t that mean that I had already found my path and that the way back to it was a matter of forgetting what I have learned since Natalie died and simply return to doing what I was doing before? Could it be that easy?