Sometimes The Best Ambition Is Less Ambition

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Lately, a lot of my friends have been going through “job issues.”  Losing them, not happy with them, being pressured to trade up, and so on.  Listening to them I realized that there’s something important to say:

It’s OK to not have ambitions for a “better” job.

Yes, that’s right it’s me, Mister Geek Job Guru telling you maybe you’d be happier staying where you are, or getting a lower paying job or whatever.  Radical? Unexpected? Extremely un-Steve like?  No, it’s about things more important than getting a “better” job.

The benefits are worth it.  One friend of mine had some health issues, and their job has great benefits, so they’re not planning to move on or up at least for the time being.  This is fine.  If a job gives you benefits like great health, training, etc. it’s perfectly OK not to change.  A job that has good benefits may be worth staying at even if it’s not as high paying or lacks prestige or whatever.

It’s lower stress.  Look moving up is all fine and good, but maybe a job is going to have less chance of killing you.  Fine, worth staying with as opposed to getting a job that will put you in a grave quicker.

It lets you do other things.  Your job or future job may give you more time to socialize, build that art career, take care of kids, whatever.  Perhaps it’s less work or a shorter commute – that’s great.  No need to change.

It’s cheaper to do.  A job you’re at may cost less to commute at, require you to spend less on things like businesswear, and so on.  That’s fine.  Sometimes the money you save beats any pay raise you may have.

It works into your life plans.  You don’t have to go get the biggest title or highest paycheck if the job fits your life goals.  Maybe the job will let you retire quicker but isn’t as prestigious.  Perhaps your current position means you get to stay in a place you like.  That’s fine.

You’re tired of career stuff.  Maybe your current job is a placeholder intentionally, and that’s also fine.  Maybe you got laid off, or are changing careers or just moved.  Good, enjoy your placeholder, maybe set a time to re-review your priorities, and chill out.

It’s a placeholder.  Maybe you’re moving or going back to school or something and the job is there so you can earn money.  Great, don’t worry.

There are many reasons not to look for the better job, the best job, the highest-up job or whatever.  That’s totally fine because your career goals have to serve your life goals.

If you aren’t sure about this, let me remind you that you have permission from me, the guy who writes all sorts of career books to not think about the biggest paycheck or coolest title and just do whatever.

-Steven Savage

What Is Professional?

"But I'm not a professional," many people say to me when I discuss their careers.

I hear this a lot.  Aspiring artists, writers, publishers, coders, etc.  They all figure they're not professional now, but at some point in the future they'll be pros.  Until that point they're not professionals – and thus they figure no one will talk to them, they can't join professional groups, etc.  Professional comes with some special future achievement like the right job or the right degree.

I think that's B.S.  Professional is an attitude.

Read more