Monday, 6 January 2014

172/111 - Evil Plans by Hugh MacLeod

This is one of the books I received for my Christmas and birthday bonanza this year (that is what it shall be known as from here onwards, as is mostly received lovely books). Its tagline is 'escape the rat race and start doing something you love' which is partly what attracted me as I'm open to new ideas on what to do with the rest of my life.

The book is made up of cartoons written and illustrated by Hugh himself, as well as advice and thoughts on a variety of topics to do with finding what you want to do in life. These points are usually illustrated by some personal anecdote or a story from a friend or business mentor of Hugh's. I found this really easy to dip into and read, as all of the snippets were fairly short and digestible, and I guess it was pretty much what I expected. It was a little unusual in that it seems to be categorised as a 'business' book, however doesn't really have a business-y feel to it.

One of the parts that really shook me up was quite early on in the book when he is talking about forming your so-called 'evil plan', which is named for the fact that others will potentially see it as evil because you will be defying the status quo:

"'re supposed to clock in every morning after a lousy commute, just like the rest of us. You're supposed to hate your job, just like the rest of us. You're supposed to be stressed out and beholden to the system, just like the rest of us."

I think some of that comes on a little strong for me - I wouldn't say I 'hate' my job, although there are parts which wear me down and I definitely take more of it home than I should (metaphorically speaking). I don't have a particularly bad commute each morning, unlike if I were to transfer to a more powerful position in, say, London. I do, however, feel beholden to the system and stressed out. I feel like I have to continue working at my job and doing well, not because I like it or because it touches a particular passion of mine, but because it 'looks good'. It looks great on my CV, it's great experience and I'm learning loads, but sometimes I think, what for? It's not my company, and although I'm proud of the results I get and the work that my team does, it's fairly shallow in comparison to the satisfaction I imagine I could get from working for myself. At the end of the day, the results I get in my job are just another thing for me to try and 'achieve' or 'win', and they don't touch me in any particular way, other than the feeling that I have proved myself 'useful' to the company, which makes me feel increasingly hollow.

So I'm beholden to a system in which I feel pressured to keep a good job, so my CV looks good and that I might have a hope of getting another good job in future, or of getting a good mortgage so I can buy a good house and ultimately buy into the whole rat race, which seems really unsatisfying. I'm not sure I'm making a whole lot of sense here, however is think that it was probably a good idea for this to by my first book of 2014 so that I can reflect on some possible changes to make for the year ahead, whether that's a change in lifestyle or career, or a change in attitude.

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