So this lovely little project I got suckered into at the beginning of the year is about to wrap up. (At least for me.) It’s been good in some ways–the work was interesting, I got along well with the co-workers I saw on a daily basis, I made money to pay my bills. But all those ways that I thought it might suck? Worse than I thought it would be.
When I accepted this assignment back in November, my gut was screaming at me not to take it. Sure, I was already in the red or close to it at that point and if I’d said no I would have definitely been using the “I have a 401(k)” backup plan to get by this year. But it just felt off somehow.
The person I had worked for for the past six years had changed. Our communication had broken down. I rationalized to myself that it was because work had dried up for them and they were a bit cranky about my taking off time for a dying relative earlier in the year. But, whatever it was, it was there like a blinking red light warning me to proceed with caution.
And I’d lived in this city before. I’d left for a reason the first time. The stress, the sheer amount of people, the status consciousness, the indifference, the mentality of spending too much money on everything.
Plus I had early hints that my client’s relationship with the company that was using them as a subcontractor was less than ideal.
So, there were little signs that I should say no.
But I let money convince me. My mom said I should take it because look at the money I could earn. My mentor said I should take it because look at the money I could earn. I decided to take it because look at the money I could earn. (And, in hindsight, a very misguided feeling of obligation to both companies involved.)
I should have followed my gut.
Money isn’t enough of a reason to do anything. Oh, yes, when you don’t have money you think it’s the only thing that matters in the world. But you can’t let that desperation drive your actions. It leads to unhappiness.
At this point, I have no way to know how different my circumstances would be right now if I’d said no. That ship has sailed. Just like I probably underestimate the benefits of a good college education because I have one, I probably underestimate the benefit I’ll see from this project.
But, just like I would recommend that far fewer people pursue college degrees right out of high school than currently do, I wish I’d followed my gut.
So, bringing this back to writing. Tell the story you want to tell. Don’t let others convince you to ignore your gut. (That doesn’t mean don’t listen to others. It means don’t listen to others when your gut is screaming at you to ignore them.) And, no matter how good the money, say no to the offer that doesn’t feel right. If you’re good enough, an offer that actually works for you will come through. Listen to yourself first and others second.