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A Job and a Career

A mindless ramble on the concept of having a job to pay the bills or a career to fulfill the self, and how there are more ways than one to build a meaningful life while keeping the bank man from the door. 

I got a new job, and I’m very excited about it.

I left my position as a marketing executive for international fitness publications on Friday, and today, Monday, I started forklift training for my new position managing a garden centre. I honestly cannot be more excited.

My whole life I have loved having manual jobs where I can work with what I call ‘real people’ – no smoke & mirrors, no bullshit, just good banter and hard graft. I love being on my feet and chatting to people, be it staff, customers, or writing emails and proposals, I just love the opportunity to talk.

No surprises there.

However, we’re conditioned to believe that we should be career-chasers and that such jobs are temporary or a stepping stone, but I don’t understand why. One of my favourite anecdotes is from John Lennon when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said ‘I want to be happy’ and the teacher said he didn’t understand the question. He said ‘you don’t understand life’.

I’ve always been so much happier working shifts in highly social and hard-grafting jobs as opposed to having the position that “will pay off someday!”

What bullshit.

I was self-employed running KnowHowNutrition, Union Jab, and my personal training work, and I loved this. I went to university (twice) and loved studying the subject, but I was never interested in the grades or the piece of paper I got at the end of it. I actually skipped my first graduation, and only went to my second because my mum had earned it – it was for her, not for me.

I love my subject of nutrition and fitness, and I love nothing more than helping people change their habits and talk all day! Yet, so much of this was lost when I took a marketing job, even though it was in fitness media.

It was the feeling that every decision I had to make had to run through someone else, and I wasn’t representing myself but a company, and for an autistic idiot that’s just another layer of filtering to think about. It was also the fact that work was work. It became less fun because I had to do it – it felt clockwork and passionless because I couldn’t put my soul into it.

By all means, however, this was the ‘correct’ thing to do when building a career – I took an entry level job and worked my backside off to climb the so-called-ladder, but in reality I was trying to twist a pre-existing structure of a company to be an outlet for my want to help people get healthy. I was trying to make something of it that it wasn’t, and when realising it would never give what I wanted, I left.

So many people may think that it’s crazy to leave a role with a cool title and international reach in a company that is seated directly within my skill set and market, and instead take a job managing a garden centre driving forklift trucks and cracking on with the staff. But they don’t understand life.

The garden centre is my ‘job’ – it is lower pressure, lower responsibility, good fun, and pays enough to keep the bank man from the door.

CGR Cooke is my career – first of all it’s my name, but mainly it’s mine. I can say and do what I want, and wake up every day to find a new way to help people get healthy.

Because my job pays the bills I don’t have the panic of my past trying to secure rushed deals that I’m not able to maintain, and because my career is under my full control it is entirely fulfilling and allows me to grow independently without being disappointed in a lack of promotion at work.

I’m not going to pretend I’ve got it all figured out, but I really hope that more people pursue happiness and fulfilment in their life overall as opposed to just in a job. At the end of the day we only live once, so might as well enjoy it.