The grass isn’t greener

Often in life, we might think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. It is not.

Things are not better just because they appear to be better from the outside. I saw this when I worked with rich people. They felt miserable and made others suffer around them. It was thoroughly unpleasant. I was glad when the company started laying people off and I didn’t have to work there anymore.

Then there are benefits from a company you think will make you happier like unlimited PTO. The fact is that in those companies there are often bottlenecks and one of them is usually support. I technically had PTO but critical things wouldn’t get done. So I didn’t take it. Unlimited PTO actually saves a company money because they don’t have to pay out unused time and most people take fewer vacation days when they are unlimited.

Then there is the grass that says a high salary will make you happy. It won’t. The highest salary I had the more unhappy my life was. I was so stressed making sure everything went properly that it wasn’t worth it. I can understand why people would want a job with less responsibility because they have less stress if there is a problem.

This is not to complain about different working environments but rather to say that over time, you can learn that it is not the environment that makes us happy but ultimately ourselves. Yes, it is important to have a helpful environment where you feel psychologically safe and you are set up for success. Too often companies don’t provide this. However your happiness is independent of what others do, and it really comes down to knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.

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For example, I love working from home because I can use my strengths. I can focus and research to find a solution, test it, and then present it to my client. I can’t do that in an office environment. In that environment, I am being interrupted to help other people often because companies don’t hire enough support staff to do the volume of work they need to do. So then very important projects don’t get done because you are keeping the lights on with the daily stuff.

This is not a complaint. This is just to share that often our fantasies of what our life will be like in another company, position, schedule or whatever is just a fantasy. Every company has really painful areas and often you just switch one painful thing for another. For example, you may get paid higher but then you are expected to be on call 24/7. There is a balance we all need to find to be successful and happy.

Before you switch jobs, relationships, or whatever ask yourself does the advantage outweigh the possible disadvantages of changing. Often the answer isn’t clear and so changing is much an act of faith as anything else in life. I see more people leave their jobs because it is so painful to be there than become convinced that they will improve it by leaving. Ask yourself honestly if all the pros and cons are really worth it.