Why an office job blocked my potential. And perhaps yours too

I write this blog because I feel that I learned so much more last three years than I did in ten years of work as an employee in an office job. And I thought – how come?  Why wasn’t my learning curve as steep as it is now? In this blog I explore this question. I hope my thoughts nudge you a bit out of your comfort zone and at the same time inspire you

So how do I perceive the potential-blocker dressed up as an office job?

First things first

Do you know Google Trends? It is a feature – free to use – provided by Google. You can easily search for trends around the globe. If you want to know whether people search for yoga with dogs in Albania, Singapore or the USA this is a great feature to get an overview.

We always use it before writing a blog to get a bit of an idea which keywords are good to use. For this blog I use keyword ‘office jobs’. These are the results.

Office job
Office job vs entrepreneur vs online business according to Google trends

How do I interpret this outcome:

  • Are a lot of people willing to change their profession?
  • Is this a psychedelic outcome of what people dream of and what they do in reality?
  • Do people prefer to be an entrepreneur over an (office) job as an employee?
  • Is there a relation between the subjects at all?

I think this is a funny Google reflection – discrepancy – of what people want or desire and what they actually do. I do understand this is not science and therefor I can not jump into conclusions. It is just hunch. And I feel the urge to explain the hunch a bit more.

Selling dreams and don’t be responsible for any kind of outcome

The hunch reflects a memory. It goes back a while. Almost 10 years. It was during a period in my life that I worked as a consultant. Eager to perform. And eager to be the best.  

The memory is a conversation with a good friend. He is a lawyer. This friend said to me: “You consultants have the best jobs in the world; you sell dreams and are not responsible for the outcome!” I agreed on this. Most consultants sell the beauty of an idea. A concept. And a good story sells.  An attractive concept can be your Trojan horse: “The dream without responsibility”.

What was my part in this story and what do I learn in this story?

Wake up scary little boy

Before we took off – on our journey – I had an office job. A respected management role in the organization. I became a team manager and gradually I made more money. But somehow it didn’t make sense to me. I still sold dreams. Yes, I learned stuff.  But not necessarily skills I wanted to learn.

I always talked about my own business. And had dozens of business ideas. But somehow it didn’t happen.

Why? Was I like the Google Trends image? Having the entrepreneur dream but not acting on it? Or was I afraid to fail? Better dreaming than not succeeding…

Bye bye office job

The last three years I discovered a lot of things about myself. Not necessarily new ones but somehow things became more clear. I explored my own habits and routines. Learned about my fears and convictions too. So finally I can tell you a bit in what way an office job blocked my potential. And perhaps yours as well. I needed this intro to get you along the way.

The number one thing I learned is that within my comfort zone – for me this is an office job – I will never learn what I need to learn in my life. And life is short. So I better do what I want and wish for in this life – because before I know it – I am not around anymore.

The office job trade off: my time for your money

“I give my time in return for money.” – And with that money I buy things. This sequence continues forever. And within this structure I feel comfortable. I am happy with my self-created comfort zone.

But what if I disconnect myself of those comfortable structures? What would I do when things go wrong? How would I cope with fear?

If there is no salary to rely on and no boss to save me I need to figure this out on my own. And with Marleen. Yes. She is a safetynet as well. Which I am very happy about. We need to figure it out on our own.

An office job teaches me what is necessary for the job, but not necessarily what is good for me…

Imagine this:

  • If I work for a business man I probably learn how to sell in a specific market and offer competitive tenders in that niche.
  • And if I work as a consultant I learn how to implement a specific system or model that is a solution to a problem.
  • If I become a team leader I learn everything there is to know about spreadsheets and how to ‘nudge’ employees to reach those spreadsheet numbers.

Is that a problem? It pays the bills and you do learn a thing or two, right? Well for me this is not enough.

So what are my reflections on the office job blocking my potential?

First of all I want to explain this is a personal quest to me. I have an extreme drive to explore boundaries and to question conventions and dogmas. I have the urge to learn everyday and to shape my own thoughts within a very broad area of subjects.

What I don’t want to say is: “An office job sucks.” A job is a job. Nothing more and nothing less. In my case the office job blocked my potential. And I believe it is possible it blocks yours too. Up to you to discover.

When you work for a boss I think you do need to realise that everything you do is because it suits the needs of that same boss and or company. If you don’t research your own needs you can wake up 30 years later and question yourself: Why like this?

There are several reasons why my office job blocked my potential:

  1. The number one reason for the blockage was: I didn’t figure out what I really wanted to do in life. And therefore I walked the path of the majority;
  2. Second I was afraid to fail and the office job was a good base of security;
  3. I wanted to show my ‘true’ potential and got myself into every possible job to fulfill the job requirements as good as possible to get social and personal approval and acceptance.

> These three reasons don’t express anything an office job did to me. It tells me the story of how I blocked myself.

The only way that my office job blocked my potential is that I learned skills needed for the job. And not necessarily skills benefiting my own personal growth and wisdom. For the biggest part I myself blocked my own potential.

The only thing I needed to do was to jump into the big unknown and write my own story. Which I did. And perhaps you can do that too if you recognize yourself in the story of my journey.

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