Making changes is not being selfish or ungrateful
I have the best family. I have great friends in all corners of the world. I’m healthy. I have no immediate financial pressure. I have a job that gives me flexibility to pursue personal interests.
I’m extremely grateful, and I don’t take my loved ones or the fortunate circumstances for granted.
However, all of the above have also made plotting a new career path difficult.
When I felt dissatisfied with a job, I was afraid that I was being ungrateful.
After all, the unemployment rate has remained at high levels. When I made career changes, I wondered if I was being selfish by putting the stability of my family at risk.
"Don’t you know that there are millions of people in third-world countries who would kill to you have your easy life?" a voice in my head would say.
Though I don’t often whine about work out loud, my mind is filled with complaints. I tried to convince myself that a job is a job. It’s a way to provide for my family, and perhaps I’m just not one of the lucky few that happen to enjoy their work.
I even went as far as telling myself that since I have an average IQ and was average in school, then I should accept an average career where nothing spectacular happens.
There is a Chinese proverb “place your feet on stable ground,” which sings praise to the virtues of being grounded, stable and sensible, but it also implies the irresponsibility of taking risks and shooting for the stars.
For more than a decade, I tried to do the safe thing and went to work at several reputable companies. I couldn’t find fulfillment and the work never inspired me to care, let alone be great. Hacking it out in the corporate world just didn’t work for me.
In his book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho writes,
When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.
I now realize that I cannot take care of my loved ones properly until I take care of myself. It’s not being selfish. To borrow an example from my coaching class, during flight emergencies, it is recommended that you put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
My family never gave me pressure. All they’ve ever asked of me is to be happy and be a good person. The guilt came from within, and of course stemmed from a need to measure my achievements with others.
As for the voice that reminded me of the less fortunate citizens of third-world nations? I believe I’ve been given good opportunities, and I owe it to them to take advantage of what I have and strive to be better.
I’m only 35 years old.
I’m shooting for the stars guilt-free.