In a recession, should you settle?December 21, 2008
I’ve always been one with extremely high goals, and I always believed I wouldn’t settle for anything less than achieving those exact goals. And when it comes to careers, I was always taught to believe that as long as you worked hard enough, there would be no reason to settle — you could get yourself wherever you wanted.
So I didn’t want the beaten path, I didn’t want in on the consulting/i-banking rat race; I figured I’d do exactly what I wanted (whatever that was) and settle for no less. I didn’t so much care about perfect grades or amazing starting salaries or corner offices or working for the brand-name firms that everyone else fawned over; but what I wanted to find was work that was really meaningful, something that made me excited to get up and out of bed on Monday mornings.
But now that the recession is decimating nearly every industry, everyone wants to give me advice on my impending job hunt. And, I’m getting similar unsolicited advice from all sides: just settle. Take what you can get, because there’s no jobs around. Forget about achieving your dreams or changing the world; there’s no time for that now. Just settle, and be grateful for whatever you can get.
But is this really the attitude we should be having right now? Or ever?
Nadira Hira recently wrote in Fortune that Gen Yers won’t settle. And maybe that was true, until the economy imploded this fall. Suddenly, all our youthful idealism and lofty goals are evaporating and being replaced with cold practicality.
Everywhere you turn, you see people doing exactly that: settling. My friends who wanted to go into politics are trading in their political aspirations to be one of hundreds of other fresh grads at big corporations. Friends of mine who had dreamt of working in the nonprofit sector and changing the world are now telling me — though only half-convinced themselves– “I’m just going into consulting for a few years to make some money. I’ll do the nonprofit thing later.”
And before someone objects to this as my description of “settling;” it’s true consulting may be a better option than the nonprofit sector. It’s certainly may be more profitable, more stable, more secure, than many other industries right now.
But if you choose a career path for security and stability rather than following what you’re passionate about, isn’t that settling? We’re sticking to jobs we don’t love, and more often than not, jobs we hate. Why? Because the recession has got us feeling that we have to cling on to whatever job we can get, and be grateful for it, because we probably won’t be able to find anything else.
I’ve read what a lot of other people are saying about how the economic crisis will affect young people right now. But I also see a lot of people asking the question, “will they quit being so demanding?” But my question is, does the recession mean we all need to stop pursuing our dreams and choose stability instead?
Should pursuing your dreams still matter, or is the “dream job” a concept that never really existed anyways? When there’s about three times as many job seekers as there are jobs, is fulfilling and exciting work too much to ask for? Do we have to abandon all our ambitions and dream to change the world in order to even make rent?
And since when did pursuing your dreams becoming too “demanding?”
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