In contrast to most other posts and articles, the following one will be less directly about Photography and more about personal changes and what is coming in the next months.
First of all the most important info is that I put in my job notice in mid-September and left the company I was working for at the end of October. This means I had my last working day last Friday 27th of October without a following employment, which doesn’t mean that I have no future plans.
The reason behind leaving a stable job with a sufficient salary is simply because the task I was doing wasn’t fulfilling and not really what I was looking for after finishing my Master’s Degree in Business Engineering in mid-2016. I found myself at an electronics company at a position that was very challenging but I had absolutely no interest in.
Following my job will be a longer travel through Southeast Asia in the next months until the end of February which I will also cover extensively on this blog and write more about in the next blog posts.
But isn’t it insane to leave a stable job in pursuit of something completely unknown?
I know that it might appear very odd to leave such a secure position with nothing promising and secure in the future.
When I talked about it to my peers and colleagues, a lot of them mentioned that they would be too afraid to go a similar route, which I find rather strange.
They were afraid that their cv wouldn’t look perfect, that they would have to hunt for a new job and might not find what they are searching for.
All of this is reasonable and I realize that I am in the luxurious position to choose for now what I want to do because I don’t have any responsibilities apart of my own life and their situation is different.
Yet, I believe that no matter the circumstances, that there is always a way of actively changing your current situation instead of sticking to a job you absolutely hate and just wait for the retirement to arrive. It is never too late to search for new opportunities and at least try to improve your position.
That is also one of the reasons I left the job. The team atmosphere was divided in long-term employees that didn’t had the confidence to believe in a new and better alternative and the younger colleagues that already have a deadline for themselves in mind without any long-term plans of staying at this company.
Although I went along with everyone and everyone was very understanding and helped each other out, such an environment drains your motivation to work there 8 to 10 hours every day.
It literally drained the life out of me and I neglected everything else because working this hopeless job required all my concentration and mental fortitude to stay sane.
Staring at the screen for 10 hours a day for a job that I wasn’t happy with, without any hope of a change felt like a dead-end. Is this it? Is this really what the work-life is like?
Having the experience of previous internships at least I know that things could be different.
So instead of waiting for some miracle to arrive, I chose for myself to seek for something else.
Since Day 1 it was pretty clear to me that this desk isn’t the place I studied for – which wasn’t even the position I applied for anyway. Although qualified for the original position apparently I was too young for a position with more responsibilities.
So I got offered an alternative, which sounded great at first but also left a negative gut feeling from the start.
After figuring out that the job isn’t a long-term solution for me I saved all the money for a vacation in case my few applications that I sent out simultaneously wouldn’t yield any success.
A few rejections at other companies later, I passed the trial period which meant I got an indefinite contract. Therefore my plan to save all the money in pursuit of a short travel period looked like the most promising goal.
My decision to quit the job that early on and spending the time on my own might not be the most optimal route for my working career. Probably in some future applications, employers view it as negative that I took a time-out to pursue my own interests instead of having a perfect cv or being employed continuously.
Compared to a lot of my peers from university I already was some unpaid internships at some high profile enterprises “behind”.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals in mind that I want to achieve, but they are simply different from theirs.
In fact, I find it pretty unhealthy that the work career seems to be priority #1 in our society and anything that doesn’t comply with that priority is frowned upon.
Although this view is slowly changing and terms like “work-life” balance are becoming more important – in Japan, there is even a word for “death by working” – Karōshi.
A sad term for a cultural norm that describes your worth of a human being by the hours you are able to put in for your employer.
I mean have you ever heard someone on their deathbed say that they wished to spend more time in the office?
Life is more than work to me and work is only a means to support my long-term goals.
Experiences over Valuables
When I talk about salary, goals and the priority of work, keep in mind that I am talking from the perspective of living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Yet when I look at statistics about the satisfaction of the population we are somewhere in the top third at least, but nowhere near the top rankings.
All this economic power doesn’t seem to translate into happiness it seems.
During my academic studies, I also stumbled upon a pretty interesting study that tried to quantify the satisfaction in relation to income.
That the average satisfaction rises when our income increases isn’t very surprising. But there is a certain threshold after which there isn’t much gain of satisfaction in relation to the income. The value is around 60.000 Euro, which isn’t even far-fetched in Germany and shows that you don’t need to be a millionaire to be content with your life.
It isn’t the amount of money that you have at your hand to spent that counts, but how you are spending it.
Material goods vanish fast. Product life-cycles are becoming shorter and shorter every cycle. Whereas new car models have been released every 10 years in the mid 20th century, nowadays the cycle has gone down to every 5 or even 3 years.
Everyone who wants a car already has the option to buy a car, the market is saturated and companies are looking for new ways to increase the need for cars again.
Is it reasonable to go for the newest model and spend a fair share of your income just for a little gain in return?
To me, it isn’t and there are studies supporting this view: Experience of Material
Then there is also the effect of relative income, where the satisfaction rises if you earn more in comparison to your neighbors. Do you believe that you will be happier after a nice increase in salary, but you neighbor simultaneously hits the lottery jackpot?
From a reasonable point of view, your satisfaction should rise since you would have more economic value in exchange for your personal interests.
Contrary to that, the satisfaction even decreases, because in comparison to your neighbor your relative income decreased.
As stupid as it sounds, we would be happier if we would never have gained the salary increase in the first place, but our neighbor would stay in his miserable job earning less than us.
That, unfortunately, is how our consumerism behaviors have affected our way of happiness.
It is more important to have a higher status than others, than being content with ourselves.
Therefore I find it dangerous to chase the newest electronic devices or other “trends”, although they won’t have a big impact on our lives. They only numb our consciousness for a short time without any real positive effect.
From my point of view, that money is spent more wisely in experiences and all the material goods lose their value very quickly.
Understanding that money isn’t the reason why we exist, but only a means to opportunities for new experiences is my interpretation of true satisfaction and the reason why I work.
Life isn’t something we have to “endure”. For me, there is always the opportunity to at least try and change negative aspects, even if the outcome is uncertain.
It is uncertain if the next job will be better than my previous one. Maybe I end up even more frustrated. But at least I can live with the conscience that I tried to change my situation.
Sometimes we have to take those risks, whether in life or photography, where we don’t know where we end up. Other than trying, there is no way of finding out.
If your mind and heart say that the risk is worth it – go for it. Hindsight will always be 20/20, but that’s life.
BTW: Do you recall that I applied for a different position than I got offered?
Well, after discussing the termination of my contract, I got the opportunity to search for a new task at the company and maybe I will be able to work in a different position from early 2018 on. Although nothing is set in stone, that is an opportunity I would never have gotten if I just sucked it up.
Either way, there is a lot I am looking forward and want to share over the upcoming months on this blog with you and we will see how everything pans out.