Going Nowhere

I was in Navy bootcamp at the end of the ‘80s. The bootcamp that I attended was in Orlando Florida, it was a coed facility and it was in the middle of summer. One of the things that I remember (and I remember a lot of things from that time in my life), was Marking Time. It is a drill where you expend energy without moving forward. Sometimes in life we expend energy but without moving forward, what does it take to get out of that predicament and start movement?

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I remember this one time in bootcamp, the company had just failed some inspection (which our company did all the time) and the Company Commanders were upset. It was the rainy season in Florida, and so the CC’s pulled us to attention and told the RCPO (Recruit Chief Petty Officer, who was our squad leader) to take us out onto the walkway and have us mark time until it stopped raining.

The RCPO took us outside. The rain was coming down hard, and our Dixie Cups were filling up with rain: we were marking time. The CC’s came outside with their umbrellas and observed us doing this pointless drill. Then the rain stopped and we were ordered to stop and stay at parade rest. When the rains started again, we started marking time again. This happened the rest of the afternoon.

There have been many times in my life that I have been just marking time. Many of the “careers” have been nothing more than time wasters. Nothing advancing me, I was just staying still – stagnating.

Getting out of that stagnant condition is difficult, but can it be done? Are there things that a normal person can do to boost their situation and start moving forward?

Change of Scenery

Sometimes the location where we are is what is holding us back. It sounds stupid, but stagnation can set in by our environment. We see the same building, the same carpeted floor, the same restroom and the same gloomy faces. Until we look in the mirror and realize that one of the gloomy faces is our own. 

We need to look at something else. Sometimes a vacation is enough to pull us out of the stagnation, but sometimes we need to realign our purpose, and get out of there.

In the last three jobs that I had – before I became a LYFT driver. I noticed that the carpet was the same pattern, just different colors. They were industrial carpet squares that were fitted together to make a floor covering. Stupid thing to notice – right?

So there I am, I just left the call center for Verizon and I was going to Apple. I went in for my first day, and the pattern was the same. At Verizon it was brown tones and at Apple it was blue, but it was essentially the same. Then I left Apple and went to work for the payroll company, and they had black – same pattern.

Point is, I was focusing on the pattern of the carpet and not on the job, I felt like I was still stuck; sure the three jobs did encompass the better part of a decade, but my mind kept coming back to that awful carpet. Would my experiences have been different if it wasn’t for the floor covering? I am not sure. But the point was that my surroundings had the same grounding, which for me carried the same ill feelings that I had from the first job: essentially, I was stuck.

It wasn’t until my move to LYFT that I was able to get my change of scenery, which became a daily thing.

Find a purpose

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My grandmother used to say, “Puppy love always turns into a dog.” I used to think, “Yeah, that is what puppys do Grammy, that’s the whole reason for getting a puppy, so it will be a dog.” I never knew what that meant until I was older. The newness and cuteness of the puppy goes away and now there is the work of maintaining a dog. 

I have held many jobs that were just paycheck driven. Sure, the job was cute and cuddly, it gave me warm fuzzy feelings. Soon the job would mess on the carpet, and cause a great big mess in my life (impressed with my dog metaphors). Soon I would be doing more for it then it was doing for me and if I wasn’t careful, it would bite me in the butt (now you’re impressed).

If you are working, just to collect a paycheck, is that really enough? If you are holding a job, just because you think it will give you experience to get a better job – is that time well spent? the answer is no. There is that old proverb that some people attribute to Confucius: “Choose a job you love,and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

So don’t chase money, because that is as fruitless as chasing a rainbow. However chase happiness, chase contentment, follow your dreams, no matter how much or how little it pays. Sure you might not have what others have, but covetousness is a sin anyway, right? If you have purpose, then you will stop marking time and you will start to move forward in your life and in your career.

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