When you get life wrong.

Is this for real? When have you ever seen a corporate meeting where people are really, genuinely engaged and excited to be there?

The only thing realistic about it is the guy at the back saying, “fuck my life. This is what it’s come to: spending Monday afternoon smiling like a fucking gimp at our quarterly numbers.”

“I just want a job where I leave the office at 5pm & that’s that”.

A fleeting glimpse of a conversation as I passed down the corridor of my co-working space in Berlin.

A big insight into the inner workings of many people, it seems, who treat work as a necessary evil. A dirty word that should be minimised. Get in, get out. That’s it.

Yet my experience of working in a job you hate — or even one you are just mildly apathetic to — was an unbelievable struggle. At all times.

Being at work was hell. Leaving to go to work in the mornings was hell. Thinking about work on Sunday evenings, as my body felt viscerally to fill with dread, was hell. Even when out for a drink on Friday, a fleeting thought of ‘this is only temporary’, was hell.

And yet this lady bumbling along the corridor in my co-working, working for one of the largest’s car manufacturers in the world (I’ll name names (it was Audi)), is there nonchalantly saying she seems somehow to find a balance.

Am I missing something here? Because the three jobs I have hated in my life, as I said, were hell. And when friends open up about the reality of their day-to-day, they also seem to agree: it’s hell.

The idea of making it home at 5pm to enjoy a little respite, to repeat the same thing the next day, is, quite frankly, a terrifying prospect for me.

Yet it’s clearly not that bad for others. It’s not quite bad enough for them to leave, or pursue something better.

Life like that for me is like the queue for boarding a plane.

We sit around, mill up & down the corridor, slightly frustrated at waiting, but able to mentally switch off. It’s sort of boring, sort of frustrating, sort of stressful.

But it’s not that bad.

You patiently — or impatiently — wait your turn to board, mildly unhappy about the whole thing, but you gotta do it, right?

Yet when you get to the front of that queue, whether that represent your next promotion or retirement, what you don’t release is what comes next.

And what comes next is just another airport waiting room. Another 10 years of being mildly unhappy, mildly frustrated, mildly bored. another 10 years of waiting for something that may never come.

And, eventually, when you reach retirement, you’ll drag yourself across the finish line to look back and wonder:

“Where did all those years go?”

So call me crazy, but spending my life in a job I only look to get away from at the end of the day terrifies me. Doing something I mildly dislike all of my life terrifies me.

And if it doesn’t terrify you, you need to ask yourself:

“Are you willing to spend the rest of your life waiting around the airport terminal queue? Or are you actually going to live as full a life as possible?”

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Henry Latham

Henry Latham

Founder, Prod MBA

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