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You can appreciate the view from the bottom

Last week my friend updated her LinkedIn profile to Senior Analyst. After nearly three years on the bottom rung, she was promoted to a “superior” rank. I think the local retirement home might finally accept her now. Powdered eggs and 2 pm bingo, here we come!

It’s a trend I’ve noticed lately.

Companies pick a lucky straw and land on someone who is good at their job. Instead of keeping their promises to help them grow their careers, they try to keep them where they are — like a dog.

Stay. Heel. Catch!

Companies aren’t interested in growing your career

They use verbal gymnastics to stroke egos…

For introverts, this is the calm before the storm.

If I had to put a pin on it, I’d say it was sometime during the middle of the pandemic. Not that we knew it was the middle. And perhaps, it isn’t.

But at some point between March of 2020 and now, I settled into a simpler, pared-down version of my “normal” life.

Maybe you did too.

The simple life that came from lockdown.

My adapted life involved daily walks and occasional runs. I only worked 7.5 hours, sometimes less.

I enjoyed sitting on the couch. No, really. Sometimes I just looked out the window for a couple of minutes. …

Try not to take their word too seriously

Someone just tore apart the life you thought you could have. A career as a journalist. A New York Times best-selling author. Working on Wall Street. Grad school.

We all have our own version.

Maybe it came in the form of a curt email: We’re not hiring right now. Thanks.

Or a standard notice, carbon copied to thousands of others just like you.

Dear Applicant #42346

Thanks for the hundred bucks you sent along with your application. We regret to inform you that you are not special enough.

As you know, we run a prestigious and competitive program. We get…

We’ve yet to cross a full year of seasons vaccinated and virus-free

My city is starting to open, and I imagine that’s going to be the trend for at least the next few months. Inching closer and closer to “normal”, the old normal. That has always been the goal. Though I’m not sure why, since “normal” was never all that good. Hasn’t the pandemic taught us anything?

I always thought this would happen, even if I hoped it wouldn’t. I mean, we needed to get out of pandemic life eventually. But I thought maybe we’d be capable of a reawakening. One where we would create a new and better normal. …

You are not falling behind

Nothing induces the unique twang of envy and awe the way young prodigies do. It’s the combination of youth and success that makes their existence feel like a crime.

Our whole life, we’re told that perseverance and hard work pays off in the long run. We spend a lot of time building long-term habits because we know that’s one way to eventually grow into our goals.

But even if we manage to stick it through and enjoy a few solid years at the “top”, we’ll be old. And somehow, then, it’s just not as sweet. …

The two-day, 4-hour workweek is not the ultimate goal because work itself is not the problem

Surely you’ve read something… anything about the possibility of working less. It’s all over the internet.

You’ve at least stumbled upon some of them. You know the ones.

They toy with the idea of knocking out one, or even two of the five working days. They flirt with the concept of only needing to work for 4 hours per day. Maybe less, if you can get into a flow state, which is a whole other genre of sensational.

I’ll admit, just thinking about it makes me feel guilty. …

Your mentor does not exist.

I know what it feels like.

The feeling of being one in a billion. Scratch that, I mean — the feeling of being one among a billion.

Drowned out by the masses. Some nameless nobody. Bottom of the totem pole.

“You’re just getting started”, everyone says… “Good luck.”

Was that a smirk on their face?

But wait, you have potential. You’re willing to bust your butt. Work overtime. Go above and beyond. Clean up the scut. Pick up someone else’s trash.

You just need someone from the other side to take a chance on you. Take you under their wing…

It’s time to pay attention to what we have

Everything you want in life is probably right under your nose.

Instead, you’re focused on some Hollywood goal. Sold out tickets. Name in shining lights. Roaring audience. Crowds backstage. They want your autograph.

Success is your destiny. Fame is in your future. You are bound for great things. With a little persistence, a little grit — you will reinvent your life. Become a new person. Get everything you wanted and more.

Or you could look down. And notice everything you already have. It probably measures up to what you want.

But no. Your head is craned up at the sky…

There’s nothing magical — it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Just do one thing.

That’s what a lot of advice out there says.

If you’re in a slump—just do one thing. Having a bad day? Conquer one thing. Think your dreams are unreachable? Start with one win.

It’s all based on the idea that:

  1. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
  2. Every big thing breaks down into smaller things — no matter how big the big thing seems.
  3. Doing one little thing tricks your brain into thinking it’s “not so bad after all”, which helps you break the inertia and gets you going in the “right” direction

If you can just do one thing, you’ll have strengthen…

A thought to keep in mind

Nothing is more satisfying than following instructions and seeing results.

That’s why some of us appreciate things like instruction manuals and to-do lists — they offer a small ounce of order in a world full of chaos, a single answer in a sea of unknown.

It’s the same reason why I used to find math homework soothing. Those problems had defined steps that reached known solutions. If I couldn’t unpack the complexity of deciding on a career path, at least I could solve #34 in the assigned Qpack. …

Jayla Sun

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