In short: I have experienced that change in life is good and that taking risks is rewarded by life. By illustrating my own story, I hope to inspire someone else to possibly do a change in his or her own life. Change, because he or she is unhappy, unsatisfied or unfulfilled but does not dare to or not know where to start. I don’t mean to say that everyone needs a change, many people are perfectly happy with where they are. I don’t mean to say that my way is the way for everyone – it’s just my way. I don’t mean to preach what is right and wrong but I want to illustrate my actions as an example, for each one to take something away – or leave it.
Challenging the general perception
Since I touched Swiss soil again, all the conversations I had about my blog and my aspirations were: Good for you, but what can I do/what can he or she do? Or: ok, you had your adventure, but reality is different, in our society, one has to live a certain way. I want to encourage everyone to challenge these perceptions. I am challenging the status quo, the general path, not for the first time, and I intend to keep on doing so, as long as I feel it’s the necessary thing for me.
A short history of my career
For large parts of my life, I’ve been an exemplar of a conventional career path. Or close to. I completed high school, started my first job, went abroad for a few months to learn English and started college after my return. The fact that I did my college on the job and continued part-time in my original job is not far from standard and just proof of a flexible education system. I was a loyal and committed employee, focused and efficient, doing everything in my employer’s interests – an attitude that I believe I maintained to a large extent and I credit much of my advancement to those attributes.
After this initial job at a small advertising agency and graduation from college with a bachelor in Business Administration, I continued my career at a bank, working in the Marketing/Web department. I learned and benefitted a lot in my personal and professional development, learning to proof myself in an international and competitive corporate environment. Where I started as a shy, introvert intern in my first job, I left my corporate job after 11 years of “traditional” working as a more confident and accomplished worker.
Abandoning the standard path
I went traveling in Asia for 6 months. On that trip I decided that I did not want to go back into a corporate job but wanted to explore my own ventures. For me, that was the first step into the unknown. As I wrote in a different post, I was met with a certain lack of understanding from my peers: why did I leave this path paved with almost guaranteed security, wealth and recognition? Because, though I benefitted from the environment and see its advantages, I saw that I needed something else. I wanted to create, to innovate, to try and explore.
It worked well. After 2 jobs in 11 years, I meandered through various occupations over the next 7 years. Some way or another, one project morphed into the next and with every step into the unknown, a new door of opportunity opened up. Opposite to some people’s perception, I had to apply my full potential, was challenged a lot, learned new things constantly – but never felt endangered in my existence and did not suffer huge financial deficits.
Without going into too many details, here is a summary of my jobs between 2010 and 2017: I founded zweii online marketing, where I operated as self-employed consultant for web projects. I joined the startup Spontacts short after (initially based on a random encounter on my Asia trip) and step-by-step gave up my own company to work with Spontacts. After selling this startup (which was a big success for the product, however not hugely lucrative for us founders), I launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with one of my Spontacts colleagues (and failed). And I joined the startup Realmatch360 in parallel. The latter was lucky coincidence, a spontaneous response to a moderately appealing Facebook ad. It turned out to be an interesting and quite successful engagement that lasted for 3 years. After failing the Kickstarter campaign, I approached a friend of a friend at Panter, a web development agency. We mutually saw a good match and I was allowed to join this very inspiring company with great people and a unique philosophy. That was in 2015. I left Realmatch360 last year, put my Panter-job on hold, to go traveling yet again. Out of that trip resulted the desire to start this blog, to return to Panter and continue to explore Permaculture.
Alternative work models are real and beneficial
What I can illustrate with this journey is, that it is possible to work in various different, non-traditional, non-full-time, non-exclusive models and still satisfy your employer, make a living, maintain an attractive CV, stay on top of current developments of industries – all while pursuing tasks you enjoy, that challenge you and allow you to be surrounded by interesting, inspiring and motivated people.
In 7 years, I did not have a fixed work place, rarely had a boss, often had no fixed schedule, managed my own time, juggled multiple jobs, worked anywhere between 50 and 100+ percent but never to the point of exhaustion, always had transparent and honest communication with my work-mates, was shareholder in some of the companies, invested my own money several times, often earned the same average salary as in my corporate job, worked from cafés, trains and my balcony, picked and changed my job title as I saw fit, wrote my own contracts and resignation letters – or agreed terms by shaking hands…
At this point I want to give a shout out to the Impact Hub, a co-working space and community of entrepreneurs. This space and the people in it have been an instrumental support, inspiration and starting point in my ventures. And here is a link to Teilzeitmann, an initiative to promote part-time work – with a focus on men, but applicable to everyone.
But what about me, she said
Granted, I am in a fortunate and privileged position. I was born into one of the richest countries of the world, my parents gave me an ideal start and I happened to be quite compatible with the standardized school system. I added a bit to that luck by following through with my initial jobs and thus establishing a solid base financially and with regards to experience.
However, I am convinced that certain rules apply universally:
- If you are unhappy, you owe it to yourself and your surrounding to change something
- If you are dedicated and try your best, you will be offered opportunities
- Everyone has choices
- There is no universally right way, there’s only a right way for you
So whether you are responsible to provide for your family, whether you want to secure the job position you’ve built up for yourself, whether you are retired and feel limited in your energy, whether you struggle financially and don’t see how you could afford anything extra – you have choices and options. I can’t tell you what they are but maybe a little bit how to get there:
Peter’s manual to
happiness balance balancing your life
- First of all, it does not need to be a drastic change.
I’ve been talking about changing jobs only but possibly you can alter other attributes of your life: take up a hobby, start a garden, join a club, just go out and tackle that hike or run or cooking class.
- Second, listen to yourself.
Find your desires, your passions, your wants and dreams. They’re unrealistic? Start small. You don’t know what you want? Go explore (see next point), talk to friends, peers, like-minded and differently-minded people – and take your time.
- Third, force your luck by confronting it.
No solution ever comes to you while sitting on the couch. Research, find ways to try something new without giving up everything else, talk to more people who have experience – and fail. Sometimes you need to find the right thing by excluding what’s wrong.
- Four, just do it!
The first step is the hardest but it’s worth it. Like I wrote above, often I just followed a lead without knowing where it will end and new doors opened. Trying never hurts – well, sometimes it does, but it always brings you forward.
- Five, the second change will be easier.
Change works, risk taking will be rewarded. And once you made that positive experience, you will have the confidence to do it again, and again.
- Six, give yourself time.
It’s not about reaching a goal of happiness and then retiring there. Life is a continuous act of learning and balancing. Be prepared to continuously learn and adjust. The sooner you find peace with the process, the more enjoyable your life’s journey will become.
And the journey continues – despite self-doubts
As for my own journey, rule 6 means that I’m currently experimenting with my next change (see this blog). I’m not accepting that my desire for a more meaningful but also more fulfilled life are utopian or pure luxury. But I also don’t know if and how it’s going to work, so I’m experimenting (rule 3).
In response to the voices (including the one in my own head) that say, I’m just following the self-fulfilment trip of a spoiled existence, I respond: yes, but! I am aware that I’m roaming in the top-most triangle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and as a Swiss probably automatically belong to the top 10% in the world regarding wealth. However, while we, a privileged few, have all the time and money to actually pursue our self-actualization, we might as well do it with a slight altruistic touch. So instead of simply indulging in my privileges, I decided to strive for having a positive impact too.