Tonight, I went out for happy hour with a friend who’s thinking of switching jobs, and who wanted to hear a little bit more about my company. I was completely transparent and told him both the good and the bad. No matter how great your company is, there will be some things about it that don’t work for everyone, and I think it’s better to be up front about that than have someone be surprised once they start working there. But just because there are some negatives doesn’t mean that a job isn’t a good fit – it’s more whether those negatives are important to you.
Over the course of our meandering conversation, we started talking about workouts, and I confessed how much I’ve come to love Orangetheory Fitness lately. “Oh boy,” my friend said, “everyone who goes to Orangetheory seems to be brainwashed and obsessed with it… even my daughter!” And then I wasn’t sure what to say. The truth is that Orangetheory Fitness is perfect for me right now – it’s giving me the motivation to push a lot harder than I would if I were just at the gym on my own, even though of course I know how to structure treadmill and rowing and weights workouts if I want to do them on my own. I am thrilled with how my body is shaping up after six weeks of doing Orangetheory a few times a week, and as a result, I’m most likely going to buy an (expensive) pack of classes to renew my membership at the end of the year.
But there are also things I don’t like about Orangetheory, and I don’t want to leave that out and be seen as one of those who are brainwashed. For example, I don’t like how much time we stand around while the instructors are explaining the weights routine, even if I already understand the move and could just start on my own. I also hate how the heart rates aren’t calibrated to your personal resting heart rate, and so the percentages aren’t universal. My resting heart rate is 48bpm, which is fairly low. (I swear I’m not a violent criminal, though!) So when the monitors expect me to get up to 160bpm to be in the target “orange zone”, that’s actually fairly difficult for me to hit; usually somewhere in the 130s and 140s is my normal running heart rate.
Overall, though, I’ve found myself getting faster and faster since I’ve been attending Orangetheory. I’m also starting to see a lot of muscle definition in my arms, and I’m generally liking what I see when I look in the mirror – yay! I’m more than willing to overlook some of the negatives when I’m getting what I know is an awesome workout, which improves my fitness and my appearance.
And that brings me to our career discussion tonight. Yes, there are things about my job that I don’t like, and things that other jobs do better. But I’ve found that I’m very willing to overlook those negatives because of the many many things I do like. I love the people I work with, I love the work I’m doing, and I really appreciate the degree of autonomy I’ve gained in my career over the last year or two – it’s given me room to grow and gain confidence instead of being inhibited by my ever-present case of imposter syndrome, which has held me back in other contexts. As difficult as it is being away from home four days a week and knowing that my job will never be the predictable 8-5 that some of my friends have, the pros outweigh the cons. (For one, no boredom doing the same thing day in and day out!) I don’t know if that will always be the case, since at some point there’s going to be a pretty direct conflict between going for partner and having kids, but for now, I’m happy.
So why do so many people feel that a job has to be all or nothing? I’m tired of seeing articles all over the internet that tell you that if you don’t wake up in the morning loving what you do, you’d better quit and start working on your passion. That’s why I loved Patty Azzarello’s recent post, It’s OK if You Don’t LOVE Your Work. (As a companion, I also love Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy, which provides some good insight into why people think they have to love their work.) You don’t have to love something every single second for it to be something you keep doing. To use another fitness analogy, there are parts of hiking that suck, but by the time I reach the top, I’ve usually forgotten all about the struggle getting there, and I’m so glad that I put in the energy to struggle up the mountain.
So all this is to say… stop looking for things to be perfect. They’re never going to be. (Great novel that I read this week, After I Do, goes into the “does it have to be perfect to be right?” line of thinking quite a bit, and I’d highly recommend it.) Instead, weigh the pros and cons and make sure you know the tradeoffs for all the awesome benefits you’re getting, like my friend did tonight. If it’s worth it, make it work – and then stop dwelling on the negative.