The 9-5 Job Paradox

The 9-5 Job Paradox

January 5, 2021 0 By aure

Deciding which job to do is a painful activity because of the numerous options that exist. It’s also a paradox.

We are told we should do something “we like” so that we will “never work again”. This initial advice reveals an important aspect of jobs: it’s not fun to do. This is why those that do it, receive a salary.

Nonetheless, it is possible to find a pleasant activity. That comes at a certain “price” though, both literally and figuratively.

Indeed, beyond the nature of the job stands something very powerful that, most often than not, we desire more than the job itself: mOnEy. 

As such, we end up stuck in solving the impossible equation to find something that simultaneously pleases us AND brings in a decent salary.

Unfortunately, these two are almost always irreconcilable. That’s the job paradox.

The Definition of a Job

It must have been on a Sunday night, one of those you spend browsing YT videos selected for you by the algorithm instead of going to sleep (the bed is so far).

Being the conservative-libertarian that I am, I ended up watching Jordan Peterson defining the concept of “a job”.

These few seconds of videos changed my life. Here’s what he said.

“A job is something you get paid for because you wouldn’t do it voluntarily.”

Damn. It hurt.

Having had the chance to grow up in an environment that was reasonably harm-free, I led my life avoiding any type of hardship and responsibilities because I didn’t like pain and loved freedom. That was the student life.

Unfortunately, all student lives come to an end. Like everyone else, I had at some point, to assume responsibility. Everyone needs to become independent. And independence, on earth, in the 21st century, means getting a job, a housing contract, and paying taxes.

What Job to Get?

At 18, we are faced with the inevitable decision to choose studies. The general advice is “study something you like”. But is it actually good advice?

The problem with the human race is that we are quite similar. Everyone likes to laugh, needs attention, wants to please, and avoids pain.

As such, the nicest jobs out there have many contenders because they’re comfortable. The high demand enables the job offerer to decrease the amount perks, a compromise that whoever will get the position will have to deal with. “Everything has a price”.

In the beginning, it’s all good. The position is nice, the job is interesting and the colleagues are fun to hang out with, all nice arguments to justify a low salary.

Unfortunately, this can only take you so far. Once you start looking at house ownership, a baby, or better vacations, you quickly understand you got a deal you no longer benefit from.

So you go out and have a look at the jobs that pay well. There are many of them. The only problem is that they suck: they whether require you to learn a complicated and high-value skill like math, engineering, or computer science, or ask you to put out 80 hours a week which would take away your time to enjoy your hard-earned salary. Sometimes, they require both. 

That’s the job paradox.

Society tells you to work at something you like, but what you like rarely makes any money, which is what you want and need. What does make money is a job you don’t like, which is what society tells you not to take. 

Both are almost never reconcilable because a job is something you get paid for since you wouldn’t do it voluntarily.

Stuck, you need to decide what to choose: an activity you don’t enjoy, or an insufficient salary.

The Third Route: Escape the Paradox

There is actually a third route you can take, a route “too dangerous” to travel according to friends, family, and the mainstream narrative. This is the route of entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship enables you to do what you want, while simultaneously making a lot of money, provided you manage to come up with goods or services that both you and your clients find value in selling and buying.

Entrepreneurs carry a fair share of risks and responsibilities but end up being a huge pay-off for those that succeed at it.

The beauty of entrepreneurship is that it is not a zero-sum game like jobs. If you get the position, it means I won’t get it. There are only a limited number of a jobs. However, there is an unlimited number of possible enterprises.

The Bottom Line

A recent article by Bloomberg outlined that millennials are the least likely generation to become entrepreneurs in a century.

This may be the chance of a lifetime, to design your own life and bring society value, while enjoying minimal competition doing so.

You don’t have to choose between money and happiness. You can have both, as long as you accept to carry the risks attached to entrepreneurship.

Everything has a price. Risk though, seems to be a small one compared to the freedom money can buy, and the satisfaction to do something you enjoy.

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Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash