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Eleven Uncomfortable Career Truths People Lie to Themselves About

by | Aug 1, 2022 | Startups

After you leave the traditional 9-5 world, it’s as if everything becomes clearer.

Here are a few aha-moments I had about business and work. I’m sure you can relate to plenty of them (all killer, no filler).

1. A salary won’t make you wealthy

I know money isn’t everything. Duhhhh.

But without a decent income it sure places a restrictor on life experiences and your calendar. Too many people think a salary will make them rich one day. Maybe when you’re old and crusty in the nursing home, when you can’t enjoy it. Not while you’re young and free.

The goal of a business is to pay you the least amount possible so they can maximize profit. That’s the foundation of the global economy. HR care bears who pretend to give a damn about fair pay are lying to you.

The fastest way people get wealthy is by making money online or starting a business. Read that again.

2. Your boss doesn’t care about your career growth

Most bosses sit in back-to-back meetings all day.

By the time they break free from their last meeting the last thing they want to do is have another meeting to discuss your career goals. Bosses are looking for people who are self-starters.

Translation: employees who are low touch and can figure out their own damn career.

Stop placing your future in the hands of someone who doesn’t have time to care. Get proactive.

3. Company loyalty is a dumb decision — changing jobs pays more

I spent years working for the same company.

Meanwhile my colleagues left for new companies. The crazy thing is their income went up much faster than mine. They learned how remuneration works…

Level 1: Get a salary. No bonus. Nothing extra.

Level 2: Get a salary with a performance bonus.

Level 3: Get a salary with a performance bonus, free food, access to a gym, healthcare, etc.

Level 4: Get all of the above plus employee stocks. The stock grows faster than your salary.

Pay rises happen automatically when you get a new job. The new employer is motivated to steal you away. They’ll do so at almost any cost. Meanwhile your current employer already has you, so extra cash isn’t top of mind.

Career coach Austin Belcak said something along the lines of his clients who changed employers saw a (roughly) 200% increase in salary over a 5-year period.

Company loyalty rips a hole in your pants. Don’t do it.

4. People go to jobs (mostly) cause they don’t know what else to do

It’s easy to cruise into a career by accident.

You go through high school and then before you know it the education system and your parents are like “it’s time to decide on what career to do for the rest of your life.” Bloody hell.

With that amount of pressure it’s no wonder we end up working dead-end jobs we live to regret.

The answer isn’t one career. It’s multiple careers. You can be many different people throughout life. Don’t limit yourself to one path. Try one. If you hate it, then quit and go in a different direction.

None of us know what to do in our careers.

We’re all making it up as we go. Now you know.

Photo by Christopher Alvarenga on Unsplash

5. Most people have no idea what their passion is, so they lie

I said banking was my passion for years. LOL. Who believes that crap?

Spreadsheets and layers of bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy are the kiss of death. No wonder I literally felt dead inside.

We lie to ourselves about passion because it’s uncomfortable to go deep and realize something many would find silly, like painting flowers, might be our true passion.

Work to earn an income. Use a side hustle to experiment with passion. Invert the two, or go to the next level…

Trade passion for obsession. What can’t you live without? Do that on the side until it becomes full-time work.

6. Hours worked has nothing to do with value created

My boss used to watch what time I left the office.

“Going home so soon” he’d say in a smart ass voice. All I could imagine was him wearing tight golf pants talking about mortgage motivation with his bum chums on a Sunday afternoon. Son of a gun.

The people who worked the latest in my office were the laziest. They were the gossipers and the ones that never did real work.

Focus on value. Forget about time. Time-based work is a distraction. Real wealth is earned, anyway, when you divorce your work from time altogether.

7. Most of the stuff you buy keeps you tied to a job

Breaking down purchases into hours worked is a powerful exercise.

“This $70,000 car will cost me 12 months at my job.”

With that level of insight your spending habits will get a shake-up. The stuff you buy owns you. It keeps you from the freedom of part-time work or going out on your own.

8. Working long hours leads to burnout

Sure, you can do it for a bit.

Eventually your family won’t tolerate it. They need you. They want your pretty face at the dinner table on time so they can share stories. Don’t deprive them of these beautiful moments.

Every company in the world wants you to work long hours.

I read an article recently about a Stripe employee. Her boss told her to cancel her vacation. “The team needs you too much.” She worked 15-hour days as if it were nothing. The whole way through the story she lies to herself.

She calls overworking part of the thrill of mission-driven work. LOL. Stripe does credit card payments. They’re not putting humans on Mars or anything.

I don’t hear people talking about work this way anymore.

That’s because it’s stupid. People can see through the myth of WeWork scams and selfish founders trying to become billionaires.

Long hours will burn you out. No way around it.

9. Job titles are meaningless. They’re just ego.

Something funny happened when I became obsessed with LinkedIn back in 2014. I spent an ungodly amount of time looking up my colleagues.

Their job title in the company directory wildly varied from their self-assigned LinkedIn job title.

Colleagues who had the modest title of “Associate” suddenly became “Head of Technology” in their LinkedIn profiles, followed by one of those grandiose headlines: “changing the world for 40,000 employees while raising a family and running three startups.”

It became a competition of job titles in that company. To take the piss I kept changing my job title in my email signature.

Some days I’d have banker. Other days I’d make it Global Group Head of Finance, Credit Cards, Complaints and Bank Accounts for Asia Pacific.

HR never found out. Customers thought it was hilarious. My fellow colleagues couldn’t quite work it out. They got brainwashed into thinking titles matter.

Quit the ego game of job titles.

People remember how you treated them, not what your job title is. Focus on reputation instead of job title mast*rbation.

10. You’re not entitled to a raise, promotion … or anything

Entitlement kills careers.

“But Mr Tim I’ve been working here for ten years.”

Nobody cares. Time spent warming an office chair doesn’t come with a prize. A company will give you what you earn. And if they don’t, the beauty is you can fire their ass and go to a company where your value is unlocked.

11. Those who get the best jobs are the ones that network the best

The cliche goes “it’s who you know, not what you know.”

It’s so true. Don’t network like a dumbass. Build relationships. Be generous. Start conversations. Fire up LinkedIn and send a few stray, selfless direct messages to peeps in business.

In a few years, your network will be handing you opportunities that offer unfair advantages.

Why? Because the best careers aren’t advertised. They’re made through word of mouth. So build your reputation and collect interesting relationships.

Final Breakthrough Thought

The people we lie to the most in our careers are ourselves. Stop lying. Face the uncomfortable truth. Then change your life.

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