Everybody’s got one: The legendary local TV anchor.
A fixture of the community who has been there for decades, bringing you the latest news from around town. All with perfectly-coiffed hair, skin tanned to perfection, and an ability to read off a teleprompter with two arms tied behind his or her back.
Des Moines’ version of this is John Bachman. He’s a legend (and has the Emmy to prove it). He’s also retiring at the end of 2012. Des Moines is losing her Ron Burgundy.
Bachman’s been doing the same gig for 40 years. 40 years. This in a day-and age when 80% of people hate their job.
What’s his secret? I wondered. How does one guy do something for so long and truly enjoy himself along the way?
The answer came after I read an interview with John from the Des Moines Register. It all started to make sense. Here’s an excerpt outlining Bachman’s path to Des Moines:
From there, Bachman headed to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., where he studied English. He continued at Luther Seminary in St. Paul and Oxford University in England, where he studied theology.
“I knew that faith would be important to me,” said Bachman, who attends St. John’s Lutheran Church downtown, “but I also knew that I wasn’t going to be happy or fulfilled as a parish minister.”
Whoa. Wait. That last part. Can you read that again? Yeah. That hit me like a ton of bricks.
Because that was me. John’s story was my story. At least in part. Let me explain…
For those who may be new to the site, I was in Christian ministry for seven years before taking my current position at Monk Development. Like John, I went to seminary with the idea of becoming a pastor of a local church. I thought that’s where my “call” was. That’s what I’d be doing for the rest of my life.
But somewhere along the way, I started thinking, I don’t think this is it. I feel like I’m supposed to do something else. A scary and dangerous thought, for sure, but one that needed to be entertained.
I simply couldn’t shake the feeling that being a pastor wasn’t the right fit. There were just too many signs that signaled, “You’ll be unhappy if you choose to do this.” Not to diminish the role of ministry or the pastorate at all. I simply couldn’t see myself carrying out the responsibilities of pastor, day-in, day-out.
Like Bachman, I went through the necessary theological education, but returning to life as a pastor quickly began to lose its appeal.
An article by Alyson Shontell turned up on the Business Insider recently. I mentioned it earlier, but here’s a snippet that grabbed my attention:
Most people — 80% according to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey — are dissatisfied with their jobs.
While some unhappy employees muster up the courage to change careers, others opt to grin and bear it.
That seems unbelievable to me. Yet, I believe it. You know people, like I do, who truly hate what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis, simply because they need the paycheck.
This is wrong.
I know that if I didn’t make a career change, I would be in that 80%. I wouldn’t be happy as a pastor. I’d be doing myself, my family, and the people of any congregation I served a grave disservice.
My dad has always told me to do what I love, where I want to do it, and make sure I’m setting the limits for how much I could earn. A tall task, for sure, but his advice has cultivated a mindset that’s helped me (and my siblings) achieve our goals.
I am forever thankful for his advice. It enabled me to make the decision to leave a potentially life-draining career.
But what about you? Maybe you’re there right now. Maybe you’re in the 80%. Maybe you believe that lie that things will always be the way they are and you can never change them.
I’m happy to tell you that you’re 100%, unequivocally, categorically, wrong. Isn’t that nice?
How to Know if You Hate Your Job
Here’s a quick test to let you know if you’re in the 80%:
- You dread going to work in the morning. Probably one of the most obvious signs of being the 80% is loathing the process of going to work. You dread getting up. You dread driving to your office. You dread actually doing the work that you’re paid to do. It’s a process, not a privilege, to get going.
- You look for new jobs at work. This is a biggie. If you’re actively looking for jobs at your current job, you’re probably not happy. Listen to yourself and see if you can determine why, then have the integrity to make the switch.
- You watch the clock. If your first order of business is to look at the clock after being in the office for 15 minutes, you’re in the 80%. If you’ve ever uttered, This day is going so slow! and it’s not even lunch, it’s time to move on.
- You look forward to retiring. Even if it’s 35 years away. Guilty. As. Charged.
- Friday becomes a holy day. Everybody loves the weekends. Don’t get me wrong. But the first thought (or tweet, or Facebook status) in your mind on Monday morning shouldn’t be, “TGIF! C’mon weekend!”
My dad switched careers (like, hard-right, things-toppling-off-the-dash switch) at age 50. He wanted to follow his own advice and make the change. So he did. And if he can do it, you can do it.
And a special word for those of you in ministry: This applies to you as well. Throughout the years, be it at denominational functions, in seminary classes, or even within the context I was serving, I know that there is an 80% in ministry as well.
There are good-hearted, faithful people working in churches who absolutely dread going to work everyday.
There, I said it.
If this is you, you need to realize that your job, even a ministry job, is just that: A job. And you can leave your ministry job the same way you can leave your job as a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker.
Don’t let yourself or the people around you over-spiritualize your ministry position. You are not being unfaithful or disobedient or whatever else if you decide to go from the ministry to the marketplace (or vice versa). That’s a determination that you, and you alone, get to make. No one else.
Be in the 20%
John Bachman says that he knew it was time to retire when being a news anchor stopped being fun. That’s why at age 64, after 40 years in the business, he decided to call it a day. But he provided himself and his family with a career that brought him joy, life, and excitement nearly everyday.
Don’t you deserve the same? Don’t be the 80%.
What resonated with you? Are you happy and fulfilled where you’re at right now? If not, what are you going to do about it?