My Story – freedom and designing my own path

I never quite fit in as a corporate employee. I was a well-intentioned corporate marketer who respected my craft and took marketing seriously. But little did I know that it would dilute my creativity to fit traditional parameters. I felt bottled up—doing tasks to meet conventional standards. The corporate atmosphere constrained my skills and talent instead of liberating them. 

As I worked at giant corporations that provided everything the ideal “American dream” could offer, I gradually began losing touch with myself. I had not envisioned the direction in which my career was leading me—and it was not pleasant. 

The working environment required me to appease my superiors, even if it came at the cost of compromising the quality of work. Everything revolved around the status quo: from people and jobs to the management within the company. The administration relied on a hierarchical basis that propelled employees on fear instead of motivation and appreciation. Throughout the years, I noticed terrific ideas go to waste just because the management didn’t want anybody challenging the status quo.  

All of this made me wonder: what are we actually working for? Are our efforts making the difference we imagined to make one day? I knew I wasn’t honest with myself, and I was taking the biggest hit there. 

And one day, a massive weight landed on my chest: As a corporate employee, I’ve been trained to be replaceable because I only contribute to the company the way it wants me to. And when I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t see myself. Instead, I saw a stranger staring back at me with empty eyes and a mechanical expression. I knew that if I continued any longer, I would lose the remaining bit of individuality in me.

It was time to be honest with myself.

Why must I choose between contentment and fulfillment?

When I decided to give up the corporate way of life, I knew that I would be abandoning the comfort of a fixed monthly salary and added benefits of being a corporate employee. My family and friends advised me against this decision, urging me to retain the stability that came with the job.

Their suggestion didn’t faze me; instead, I grew mad at the career system designed to cater to either financial security or job satisfaction, seldom both. The first step towards honesty was a confrontation, and I was willing to make a tough choice if it meant I would no longer have to curb my creative skills as an individual.

For me, a job isn’t just a source of livelihood; it’s a part of my identity. I believe that a meaningful career is invigorating, challenging, and keeps me on my toes. It does not stress me because I have a finicky and ill-tempered boss or my responsibilities are monotonous. It does not make me take sick leave due to frustration, nor does it bother me for the pay cut that comes with taking that leave!

For me, a job requires me to show up consistently, pushing me to explore new possibilities and expand the arena of my expertise. In addition, a good job gives my life an outcome-oriented purpose.

I decided that if I am forced to choose between two options, I will create a third one.

Coming up with my terms

“Success is not rigid, and corporations most definitely do not have a monopoly over defining it. You are the one who gets to define and create your version of success, and it doesn’t have to live up to anyone’s standards.”

I set out to design my very own career path where I could be anybody I wanted with this thought in mind. I am a marketing professional, but I possess the right to mold its nuances. I have formulated my marketing version through years of thinking and practice for my clients and myself. It serves like-minded people who wish to live with a purpose the way I do.

Today, my work resonates with many people out there who live by core values that complement mine. We are changemakers who reflect the passion our work embodies. And most of all, we hold control over the kind of people we will be surrounding ourselves with. We are independent, and we are free.

This process led me to discover more about my career and myself!

It’s too late only when you decide it is

I was unwilling to become a scapegoat when things get tough in a traditional corporate setting. And I also wielded the will to turn my life around because I was reluctant to lose my identity in an environment that sought to homogenize its ‘workforce.’

To get my professional life in order, I also decided to make crucial decisions in my personal life. I began to surround myself with people who trust my judgment and have confidence in my choices. These people are the ones who always have my back and act with integrity and reciprocity.

One will never be remembered for maintaining a status quo, but only for making a difference. If I want to lead a meaningful life, then I need to make a positive impact. One doesn’t have to wait until they retire to get their life back. You don’t have to count the days until you retire and make jokes—I only have ten years left. But those ten years cannot limit the amount of growth I will go through and the impact I will create on the world.

Years down the lane, when I have retired, I will witness the change in people and systems that I have sparked. And it will be worth it. The coming ten years will be more fruitful than the almost 20 years I spent in the corporate sector.

Asking the right questions led me to the right place.

Are you asking yourself the right questions?

Jay Mandel is Your Brand Coach and is a marketing and branding consultant and adjunct professor of Marketing. This post expresses my personal views, and my individual are directly connected with my employer because it is me 🙂

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