I recently got the job of my dreams. Lovely people, an amazing work culture, a nice work-life balance and relatively interesting work.
I knew I wanted to be a consultant ever since I knew what consulting was. I wanted my work to be challenging, non-repetitive and to solve problems for different clients every few weeks.
I have always been incredibly ambitious; I glorified a life of working hard and becoming ‘successful’. Those who know me from my undergrad times will know that I was a notorious ‘postponer of good things.
I’ll study now and party later; I’ll work now and travel later; I’ll save now and spend later. I’ll suffer now, I’ll work/study hard to get that internship, to get that job, to get the other one too and then, maybe I can retire at 40 or 45 and live life then.
The pandemic taught me an invaluable lesson: do not postpone the good things.
Every day we are exposed to videos, TED talks and quotes from successful people who tell us that the only thing keeping us from being happy is to work, grind, and hustle.
We should get up at 05:00, work out, have a green juice and girlboss to “get that bread” #riseandgrind.
This ‘hustle culture’ romanticises a life of making entrepreneurial self-sacrifices and looks down on a stable 9-to-5. Because why would you want stability now? Why would you want to go home at 5 and be with your friends and family and have time for your hobbies? Hustle culture sets up unsustainable expectations, encourages an unhealthy lifestyle, and leads to burnout.
I see now that I had convinced myself that this was the way to ‘make it’. Make sacrifices now to try and guarantee a better future, one with more money, more time, more freedom, and more life.
I wrote my undergrad thesis, and graduated with amazing grades, for what?
All those days I spent studying and working instead of having fun and enjoying life are just reduced to a bullet point on my CV now. And guess what?
All my peers who got average grades but squeezed every bit of fun out of life have the same bullet point on theirs.
Don’t get me wrong, I had fun – I travelled, I partied, but I also thought that working more and harder than anyone else would guarantee me a better future filled with all the stuff I was postponing now.
Then the pandemic hit. We were stuck inside. Things were unpredictable and we didn’t know when we would be allowed to have fun again, to see loved ones again. All the fun I had postponed after graduation became illegal.
I learned not to postpone the good things now, for merely the possibility of the same good things later. ‘Later’ might not allow for the good things.
I can still say that the job I have now is the job of my dreams. Not because the exit-opportunities in consulting are great but because I actually enjoy the work itself.
Not only that, I now enjoy my life (a separate thing from my work) after 5, 6 or 6:30 at the latest.