Enjoying Work and Finding Fulfillment in Your Career Can Positively Impact Your Life.
Normally, I like to blog about articles and videos that are relevant to Wichita and its workforce. Today, I want to write an op-ed about the benefits of finding a job you enjoy and eventually a career that brings fulfillment into life.
Here’s a bit of my back-story. I was born and raised in the Wichita Metro area. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree at Kansas State University, and after four-years beginning my career in Colorado and Washington State, I came back to start a real estate marketing and referral business that I owned and operated from 2010-2014.
After my business partner had a highway-wreck and sustained life-changing injuries, I realized that our business was no longer viable, and that I had chosen a less-than-ideal market for my product and service.
After My First Business Failed
I have known that I am an entrepreneur who is meant to be self-employed since long before I graduated college. At one point, I refused to think logically and take a break from my full-time pursuit of self-employment until I was living in the basement of my office, couldn’t find change for ramen noodles and my car was out of gas.
At this point, I realized that I needed to go back to the drawing board and that it would probably take about 3-5 years to get my finances and credit worked out.
Relocating In The Pursuit of Happiness
Although I have a special place in my heart for the place I grew up, and the values that I developed for working hard, saving money, and achieving goals. At the same time, I had fallen in love with the Colorado mountains and the active outdoors lifestyle that I envisioned of a mountain dweller.
So, with a thousand-dollars commission from a recent home sale, I applied for a bartender job on the ski slope in Breckenridge, Colorado. Packed up as much stuff as I could fit into my subcompact Kia Rio, and I was off to start a new life.
My College Career Path
Now, I’m going to rewind to college and my pursuit of the perfect career.
After I had completed two-years at Cowley County Community College, I was experiencing a lot of anxiety. I was in the midst of the enrollment process at Kansas State University, and I still didn’t have a degree program that I felt strongly about… I have always been a story teller, and I love new and different challenges and environments, so I chose Video Production as a career. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Radio and Television at the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at K-State. I received my diploma in Summer of 2006
Then it was off to the real world to put my hard-earned degree to work.
Beginning My Career
After an unpaid internship, I received an extremely low-paying job offer to manage the post-production department of a thirty-five year-old film production company that was struggling to survive. This company eventually shut down and moved out of state.
After a short-stint freelancing for myself, I realized that I wasn’t yet in a position where I could support myself full-time as a Freelance Video Producer.
After my freelance experience, it was off to the job market to find a source of income.
Real Challenges Getting a Job
Imagine my frustration when all of the time, money, and hard work I put into earning a degree and developing a skillset made it harder to get an entry-level job, not easier.
I remember working at a television station for $10.00 per-hour, I did Audio Visual setups and tear downs at a prestigious Downtown Denver hotel for $13.00 per-hour, and I drove the Google Street View Car for $15.00 per-hour. I could have made more money in the is market waiting tables part-time. Sadly, it seemed like every job that I applied for and included my degree was not interested in hiring me.
Keep in mind, I was living in a much more expensive market with a higher minimum wage, but I was unable to live comfortably with my level of income. Even after all of the time and money I put into earning a university degree.
Getting My Dream Job
All the while, I had found what I believed to be my dream job. A Video Producer job in the Pacific Northwest, where I thought was my final destination. I pursued this job for an entire year before I was hired.
After a few years out of college, struggling to make ends meet, I had finally been hired by a West Coast Video Production Company. I would get to do everything I ever wanted to do with my career.
I shot and edited videos for some of the largest companies in America. I directed award-winning videos for hospitals and the US Government. I had a huge office with the best computer, multiple screens, and a desk that had to be at-least fifteen-feet from one side to the other.
I was able to travel all over North America. I even got to fly to Canada and back on a client’s Learjet for one project.
I loved producing videos, I still do to this day, but after obtaining my dream job with a successful and prestigious company on the West Coast, I soon realized that there is more to finding fulfillment in life than career success.
So The Dream Job Didn’t Bring Fulfillment To My Life
The two lessons I had learned thus-far in life that were against everything I had ever been told were: A college degree guarantees hire-ability and better income, and that doing something one loves as a career leads to success and fulfillment in life.
Early on in my freelance career, I was contacted by a web development company in Denver who offered a trade of services. I would produce videos for them, and they would develop my real estate video marketing website that I had been dreaming of for years. Remember, this was around the same time that Youtube was registered. Video streaming and smart phones were still new to the world and not very common.
Sadly the company had no intention of holding up their end of the deal, so I had to work hard for a few years to fund the completion of the website using a different company.
After it was finished and working properly, the only thing I could think of was how to get it off the ground.
Walking Away From My First Career
I had worked as a Video Producer for two-years in Washington State, but I realized within the first year or less that I was not finding happiness or fulfillment in my life or career. A sad realization since I had worked so hard to get where I was, and I was about to walk away from it all.
I heard somewhere that the average number of careers a person has in life is 7. I used to find that hard to believe, but now, I totally get it.
One thing that I want to mention is that I was extremely successful as a West Coast Video Producer, but no matter how good my projects came out, and no matter how many awards my projects earned, I was miserable at work and miserable in life… Was this all that I should expect from a career? Something I painstakingly did for over ten-hours a day with nothing more to look forward to? Was the purpose of life to simply work, get into debt with a car and house, then eventually have kids and continue?
Coming Back To Kansas
After I had spent two-years producing videos in Washington State, I decided to come back home to start my business in a place I knew with the support of my family and friends.
The next four-years in Wichita was a big challenge. I slowly used up my savings, inheritance, and credit score as I learned many valuable and expensive lessons. Unfortunately, I didn’t generate much revenue at that time. All I had to show for my hard work starting a company in Kansas was a lot of knowledge, experience, and no money.
After my business partner’s injury and my complete financial demise, I realized that I would have to find dependable employment for 3-5 years before I could use what I learned in my next attempt at business ownership.
Choosing My Location
Like I said before, there are many things about home in Wichita that I love and appreciate, but I have always been extremely adventurous.
During my first few years out of college, I realized that the active outdoors lifestyle in the Colorado mountains, combined with the vast and dynamic beauty of this place is where I wanted to build my future. It is also where I wanted to go to rebuild my credit and finances. Further market analysis showed much stronger potential for my unique business that I had developed over the previous eight-years.
So I began working on the ski slope as a bartender. It was a fun and reasonably lucrative job for a good portion of the year.
Back In The Workforce
Over the next five-years in Summit County, Colorado (2014-2019) I have worked as a professional Downhill Mountain Bike Coach, I worked on a division of ski patrol, I’ve held several bartending and serving jobs, I managed the fastest-paced valet staff in the county. I’ve also done jobs I didn’t love, such as unskilled construction work, ski rental tech, and I’ve even assisted housekeeping when I needed some extra income.
Here’s the crazy part… Even getting paid to snowboard and ride downhill mountain bikes full-time has grown old over time. Imagine that, getting paid to perform the activities I love the most is not the answer to career fulfillment. It has brought me lots of temporary moments of happiness, but that feeling always goes away.
The town that I live in, Frisco is less-than ten-miles from three ski slopes, and very close to at-least a dozen. As one can imagine, there are more male residents, seasonal workers, and vacationers to this place, yet I somehow met my wife here about four-years from the time I am writing this article.
Although I have been a bartender at the base of the ski slope in Breckenridge and Vail, as well as on Main Street in Breckenridge, the most lucrative position I have held here was waiting tables at the base of the Keystone Ski Slope. I was making between $350 and $500 a night. It was never a job I really wanted, but I liked the money.
How My Jobs Effect My Disposition
Once the ski season was over and I began working other jobs that were lower-stress and lower pay, my wife told me that I was a lot more enjoyable to be around.
I had never thought much about how my job impacted my home life before she mentioned my disposition when I was waiting tables.
I thought a bit, and I don’t ever remember my parents coming home in a bad mood from work, even though Mom was a teacher at Southeast High School, which required an immense amount of patience with and love for the students. While Dad was an engineer at pretty much every aircraft production company in town at one point or another.
I’m sure they both had hard days at work, but somehow it didn’t appear to affect their home life.
My Life’s Success and Progress
At this point, I had obtained my dream job as a Video Producer on the West Coast, owned my own marketing business in Wichita, and lived the ski bum life in the Colorado mountains.
Although I am confident I have learned much of what I need to know to move from a happy life to a meaningful life, I am not 100% there yet.
Important Things I Have Learned About Work
A few things I have learned along the way are:
- Humility is a virtue. Finding career fulfillment is a first-world issue that is not as important as paying the bills, surviving, and keeping a bit of savings in the bank. Every job is a step towards where we are going with life, and even if I don’t like my work much, Being broke is worse than a job that I don’t like.
- Doing what one loves for work is not guaranteed to bring fulfillment into daily life.
- Happiness is a short-term feeling, while finding meaning in work or life generates purpose and fulfillment.
Life’s Next Steps – The Results of Hard Work
Now, five-years into my financial recovery, my wife and I are discussing our future investing in and developing real estate in markets where there is a lot of potential. The first market is right up here in the mountains where we live.
Every Journey is Different
Each person’s dreams, goals, and desires for their life, jobs, and career will be different. These dreams and desires will also change over time as life changes and we have experiences that give us wisdom and insight.
I have found that my own goals beyond paying rent and keeping the lights on have evolved quite a bit over the years.
Now, I am working hard on starting my next variation of self-employment, while my wife and I plan on purchasing land and building a home. I am hoping to have my self-employment and home ownership in-place before we consider children. I’m not getting any younger though. My desires and goals will likely continue to develop and evolve over the next few years.
Family Can Bring Purpose Into Life
At the end of the day, having family can bring purpose into many lives… Although family is not for everybody, now that I am nearly 40, I cannot see anything more meaningful than building a household and family with my wife.
Another purpose that I dream of bringing into my life is to provide clean, renewable energy to many, many poor households. Although this goal is secondary to building my own family’s home and future.
Everybody Has To Work
Pretty much everyone has to work to support their adult life. Not every moment of every day of work is supposed to be happy and fun-filled. Even if you do find a fun job, without meaning and goals, life can feel purpose-less. At the same time, a life with purpose can make the toughest job a fulfilling one.
Elite Staffing Solutions Can Help!
Elite Staffing Solutions is built on the concept that hard work pays off and that good employees deserve promotions. We provide opportunities to move from the temporary labor market into permanent employment. We have helped a lot of people get started and move from hard times into stable, rewarding careers.
Whether you have found purpose in work and life already, or you are still seeking true meaning, the first pillars to success are hard work and dependability. Only you can choose your path in life and at work, so do it well and it will pay off.
Contact us today at (877) 500-0420 to learn about entry-level jobs with advancement opportunities. And continue to seek meaning and fulfillment in life and at work.
Blog Post by Mike Gamache
ESS Contributor, Blogger, Video Producer