How to Survive a Dead End Job

New Life street sign with Dead End sign below arrow pointed left

First of all, there are no Dead End Jobs. It’s a made up word for people who felt it no longer necessary to keep moving forward in their lives. It says more about the individual than it does about the job. I say this because I’ve worked countless dead end jobs: Construction, Retail and even labored in factories. But, I’ve also come across countless dead end roads on my travels in Wisconsin and in the Mid West. I found that where the road ends, a forest begins. And so Dead End, to me, suggests someone who only goes as far as what has already been paved before them. Or more simply put, they took the easy route in life.

And yet, not everyone is satisfied with this lifestyle; and many who once did, often find that it’s left them hollow and unsatisfied with their lives. And yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. You too can survive. And you too can use this opportunity to prepare for that difficult journey through the wilderness. And what might seem as a dead end for some can be your launching pad, your stepping stone towards the life waiting to be undiscovered at the end of the wilderness.

Now, what about those of us with: kids, debts, health issues and addictions who depend on their jobs for survival? And what about those who are close to retirement who spent their entire lives working at the same dead end job? What about all of us who feel “stuck” out of necessity? Again, stuck is another word that says more about the individual than about their job. It suggests someone who began to take steps into the wilderness, feel in quick sand and let it swallow them up. Reach for the trees damn it, grab the branches and pull yourself out and keep on trekking.

Of course, this is all easier said than done; but no one said it was going to be easy. Nature doesn’t like to make mans life easy. The easy life is an illusion. Nature punishes this behavior because it is unnatural. The reality is that nature wants you to find yourself and rewards hard work with bliss, depth and meaning that makes even the most well crafted Rolex watch seem crude without it.

And here’s the best part. It’s never too late to take this journey. And even better still. The older you are, the more prepared you are. And the more you feel stuck. The easier the path seems after you pull yourself out of the muck and keep pushing forward.

It’s simply a matter of finding your compass, or calling in life. What it is that fills you with bliss? Don’t over think it. Don’t try to push the answer to the surface. It will only discourage you. Instead, let the question remain at the surface of your thoughts; and eventually, without any effort, you’ll find yourself doing what it is you love. You now have your direction.

So, now that you know you’re direction; you can climb a tree and see what lies ahead of you. Study the terrain ahead. What steps must you take to reach the horizon? Write down what steps you must take to get their. Are you going to need a college degree? Than chart it out step by step. Do you want to start a business? Than chart it out step by step. Find the easiest paths around difficult terrain; but don’t get discouraged by the mountains that lie ahead. People thought it once impossible for even the most skilled mountaineer to tackle the slopes of Everest. And do you know what? They proved us all wrong. And do you know what? So can you.

And, so now that you have a clear view of the journey ahead. It’s time to start saving your rations. Like, do you really need those $600 hiking boots when you could just as easily get to where you’re going with a $60 pair? Sure, maybe the $600 pair has lights and dispenses an espresso using the friction of your footsteps. But is it necessary? What good is the hiking boots when you get to those mountains and you didn’t have the rations to pay for the equipment to get to the other side? With the right amount of preparation, you don’t have to get a foot of the mountain job just too keep going. Which by the way, is still a better alternative than trying to scale it unprepared. You might get closer than you expect. You might even make it over the summit. But it’s gonna take a lot more effort than if you were to already calculate this obstacle. With the right equipment, that difficult moment seems more like fun than a chore.

And yet, if this is all so easy, then why do so little scale those mountains? This is because the journey is always full of danger. We run into giants who want to smash us down and remind us that we’re weak. We cross paths with wolves looking for the lone fawn lost in the forest; and are sustained by the devouring of our innocence. We find ourselves in the territory of trolls, who distract and ridicule our efforts. We run into dead zones that spin our compass out of direction. We come face to face with our own dragons. And we become worn down by our own fatigue. But, this is the plight of the hero; and in this story you must ask yourself, are you the knight or are you the troll?

The reality is, if you’re not playing the role of a hero, than you’re probably playing the role of a villain. And villains are cowards, bullies and deceivers. But above all, Villains are designed to stop the hero from completing his journey. The villain is an obstacle.

An obstacles always arise when one steps up to play the role of hero in his or her own life story.

And more than anything else, this is probably what discourages people from taking those initial steps into the wilderness. Because once you do, you bring out the villain in your fellow man. Jealous co workers turn into trolls, lovers turn into wolves, friends into dead zones, competitors into giants and in the end, we all must face our dragons before the journey is over.

I’ve found that in the modern world, we more often than not, reward the villains who are willing to feed the heroes to the wolves. Modern business has no use for the journeyman trying to discover that uncharted path through the wilderness. “What use are they to the business” thinks the boss who more times than not, is their to climb the ladder and not the mountain. I’ve seen just as many managers come and go in these dead end jobs, as I have the workers under their supervision. In fact, most managers fire people for the same reasons for why they leave- more money, easier work, better work environment and better promotions. So why do they do it? Because, it’s their job; and their too cowardly to play the part of the hero, out of fear of loosing their jobs. So, they play the villain out of necessity to move up, even if that means keeping those trying to move forward starving on the streets.

And since the villain has been put in charge, the hero becomes ridiculed in the modern world. We exploit each others strengths by using each others weaknesses to our advantage. And if we can’t find any weakness and can’t exploit any strengths, than we hire someone to make one up- like a disease or something, to make the villains feel humble and righteous for their misdeeds. And they in return are rewarded with shit they don’t need, like a replica of Excalibur they use to slay the Arthur’s and Merlin’s they feed to their dragons.

So, heed this warning. You’re salvation is also the path of trials and tribulations. And, that dead end job that causes you grief, will be hard a keep once you begin those steps into the wilderness. And doors will shut along the way. Remember, these dead end jobs are ran by people who aren’t looking for strong willed workers with goals and dreams. I’ve gotten more jobs out of desperation than out of determination. They want ignorant, lazy and stupid people; and people with debts and kids; and people who are aimless. They want people they can take full advantage of and aren’t going to stand up for themselves.

But worry not. We sometimes fall into dark times in our lives and in our careers. Remember to keep close that inner light: learn all that you can, grow as much as you can, climb up as far as they’ll allow you. And when the stress becomes unbearable. Learn to control those emotions. Use this opportunity to prepare yourself for that long journey. Be nice no matter the blow back. Keep your work friends at work. And don’t tell anyone your plans until you’re ready to start your journey. And if they fire you for no good reason, don’t fret, the wilderness is full of humps. Take it one step at a time. Because you know why? Because, you’re a hero.

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