Job-Hunting: Sometimes It’s Okay to Settle.

With everyone talking about how to reach higher, fulfill your dreams, live your best life, etc., taking a less-than-perfect job can feel like giving up. But if you’ve been out of work for a while and the bills are piling up, you may have to.

Is this such a bad thing?

Sometimes, the job you have to get is the one that surprises you. For instance, a few years back when business was slow I got a job working the front desk at the local JCC every Sunday and Wednesday to supplement my income. I didn’t make much more than minimum wage, and the job wasn’t exactly challenging (swipe customer card, greet customer with a smile, hand them a towel, repeat), but I had a blast. I met lots of interesting people, moved around a lot, and enjoyed a free gym membership as well as tickets to events.

My walk to and from work gave me time to think. The job was never stressful. I left feeling refreshed and ready to challenge myself in other ways. Did I break any records? No. Did I add valuable skills to my experience? Not really. But I had fun, and had that extra $300 per month which made me feel safe enough to take more risks in my business and happily put energy into what I love to do, without guilt or worry.

There’s a ton of pressure, particularly in the Bay Area and other urban centers, to snag a high-profile (or at least high-tech) position where you work long hours and make a six-figure salary. There is very little focus on quality of life and too much on the quality of your resume. Yes, as a resume writer, I just said that.

Someone very wise once told me that if you don’t like the culture you live in, make your own. Our culture defines us by how much money we make and what we do to make it. Create your own culture where you aren’t defined by your work, but instead are defined by the way you treat others, what you give to the community, your passions, and your willingness to learn. The money, in time, will follow. And you may wind up on an adventure you never could have dreamed up if you had stuck to your original path.

The road to success isn’t a straight line. And the detours are often more fun and eye-opening than you might think. Love pizza? Go ahead, take that job at the local pizzeria. Do you like fashion? Apply for a sales position at a department store. If these aren’t aligned with your most lofty career goals, that’s okay – give yourself permission to take a break and re-focus while learning some new skills. Your new job might not have bells and whistles, but it might just change your life.

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