What Makes You Do What You Do?

This is a guest post from Stephen Smith, Freelancer, Consultant, and Teacher of Social Media Literacy.  Jay Ehret is currently on vacation.

I quit my job this week.

Well, that’s not exactly true, I gave two-weeks-notice a couple of weeks back and worked out my 12-day stretch. That’s right, 12 days out of 14. Because I was a salaried manager of a restaurant and banquet department for a small boutique hotel in the boonies of New Hampshire. And that is the kind of thing that a salaried food & beverage guy (or gal) does in the Tourist Season in “America’s Oldest Resort Community”. This summer was a doozy. In economic terms, a little behind last year. This recession is the real thing.

I suppose that with the unemployment rate north of 9% across the US I should have been glad to have a job at all. And I was, for a long time. But my Lovely Bride and I moved to New Hampshire partly for quality of life benefits. We live within walking distance of Downtown, the lake, the Post Office. We have a nice, upper-floor apartment in a four-unit building that looks like a house rather than a dormitory. All of the amenities for a nice living are all right here.

I didn’t get to enjoy but a single one of them this year.

I went kayaking once, for example. Once. Now it’s September and the lake is going to get pretty chilly soon. I haven’t been fishing since April. Didn’t even get to put my new fly rod together and learn how to use it. Sheesh.

Being an Employee

So I quit. I decided that I did not want to be an employee anymore. I want to set my own hours, follow my own set of personal values, and make a remarkable contribution to the world on my own terms. Disclaimer: I have done this before. I ran my own consulting and marketing company for three years before I had to sideline it in order to satisfy the time- and energy-demands of this job. So I know exactly what I am getting into, and how to continue to pay my bills and keep my Lovely Bride in the manner to which she has become accustomed. Because I have the knowledge and experience I need to make it happen. I am prepared.

Sure, there are lots of benefits to being an employee. Things like insurance, a steady paycheck, and possibly even a regular schedule. But what happens when there are changes in management and the company starts heading off in a new direction? Perhaps a direction that does not quite align with your values and philosophy of work. What happens to you? Are you able to compromise what you believe in to fit into an organization that pays you money to be part of it? Is the end product of your investment of work and time of the same value as it was before the change in direction?

Or what if your company just goes out of business like Solyndra? Small- and mid-sized companies are going bankrupt at an alarming rate. There are 30 million Americans that aren’t employees anymore either, and not by choice. Are you prepared if this happens to you?

What Makes You do What You Do?

I realize that these are pretty heavy questions, and I apologize if you weren’t expecting this type of soul-searching in a guest post on a Marketing blog. Actually, no. I do not apologize. This is the precisely what you need to be thinking about when you get a few minutes away from whatever it is that you do for a living. A few minutes to yourself. A few minutes with your spouse.

What makes you do what you do? What is so doggone special about your job and your role in the company that makes you jump out of bed and race into your workspace to make the magic happen? Would you be able to transfer that skill and motivation into a business of your own? Can you answer those questions? Do you like the answers to them? Does it make you feel good about how you are utilizing your time? If the answers aren’t good ones, if they don’t make you swell with pride and smile to yourself then you are likely just spending your time at work rather than investing your time at work. And that is simply a shame.

But what can I do?” you say, “Look at the economy!” Okay, I looked: Economic Outlook from Kiplinger . So what? There aren’t that many jobs to be had around here where I live and in a couple of months there will be even fewer. Summer will be over. The tourists will have gone away. But that’s okay. Do you know why?

Because I have a useful and valuable skill set that I can make known to the world.

Then people will give me money to teach them what I know. To help them stop being employees in an uncertain world and start being entrepreneurs with a real hand on their own future. So take a look around here at The Marketing Spot, there is a ton of useful, relevant information that can help you get to the next level. Because the Age of the Employee is almost over.


Stephen Smith is a writer, thinker, and entrepreneur who specializes in Social Media Literacy and Business Development. Stephen has been teaching and consulting with small businesses for over five years

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