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Is the corporate life hijacking your dreams?

Working for a corporate company is a double-edged sword. Your needs will be attended to and neglected in equal measure. You will be sheltered. And you will be exposed. The corporate life is a rollercoaster ride and once you’re on it, it becomes very hard to get off.

But first, the facts:

The principal objective of a corporate company is to generate money for its owners. Each corporation has its own culture and beliefs. If you want to get ahead, you need to buy into these beliefs and share the attitude of said corporation. If it chooses to cater to your whims, then it does so, ultimately to secure its own needs.

If you’re worth the investment, prepare to be love-bombed with all manner of perks. The point is to keep you interested or, dare I say, distracted long enough to serve the corporation’s ends. If the promise of a free gym membership, doesn’t interest you then maybe the catered lunches, company retreats or credit facilities at the office bar may do the trick. These perks are carefully designed to influence your decisions and keep you locked in. Until, that is, a 2.0 version of you comes along.

It’s about you, and it’s not about you. You mustn’t take it too personally.

Both parties are selling and buying.  What they are selling you is a sense of security, validation, belonging even. What you are selling them are your skillset and your time. It is a fair transaction.

However, as you gradually begin to get used to the lifestyle, any (other) dreams you might have had for your life begin to slowly recede into the background. Like a jealous lover, the corporate entity will be demanding. Of your time. Of your energy. Of your choices. After a while, it gets harder and harder to see past the place into which you have been plunged.

Because now you spend most of your waking moments working or thinking about work. You are now convinced that you need this job- no way you can recreate this kind of lifestyle without them. You may even begin to entertain the idea that you are indispensable- no way can they do this without you. It’s a vicious cycle, a science that corporates have perfected.

Now if you wake up in the morning, driven by purpose, feeling positively challenged to seize the day and energised to give the company you work for the very best of you, then congratulations, you are better off than most.

We do, however, have a problem when you know this is not really it for you and yet you need to keep it going day in, day out just so the trap doesn’t snap shut and devour you.

We have a problem when you lose your bearings to a different world you may once have dreamed about; you may continue to allow your thoughts to dip in and out of this world but you daren’t escape your current one. And so you live in the knowledge that there is something else for you out there and tell yourself that you cannot break free until…

At first, it was, “until I move to a more decent flat on the other side of town”. Soon afterwards you added: “and buy a car” then it was “upgrade my car”. Then it became, “I’m doing it for my family” and a few years later, “I just want to make enough not to worry any more”. One day, someone will ask you about your dreams and you’ll say, “What, that? No, it was just a fantasy.”

It could very well have been a fantasy, but it could also have been that you allowed yourself to get sucked into a life you did not believe in, much less enjoy.

And fantasy or not, the question we are really asking here is: Are you happy at work? Yes, you do deserve happiness at work. You spend so many waking hours doing it, how can it not be a primary source of fulfilment?

Today, many people continue to struggle with low wages and horrible working conditions, and for them, work may equal drudgery, a means to stave off the hunger. But research has shown that even menial jobs can provide fulfilment. What’s surprising, however, is that many of today’s “successful executives” don’t find true meaning in their work. Instead, they have bought into the myth that work is a necessary evil in life. A means to an end. What end exactly, they’re not even sure. So they find comfort in the corporate perks- both present and promised.

Trouble is, as humans, we are wired to seek meaning in everything we do, whether we’re sitting in an office, hiking in the mountains, or having a meal with the family. Passion for a cause fuels energy, intelligence, and creativity. 

I have met people who really want to be writers but don’t have the time or energy to write- because the corporate grind takes it all. People who have grand business ideas buzzing in their heads, but refuse to trust that journey- because it won’t guarantee the financial success they currently enjoy. People who have exultant visions for a better world, of adventure and discovery but lack the courage to step into it. They have, instead, been sucked into the mouths of corporations that are dangling the proverbial carrot before them. For these people, an alternative, any alternative is a risky bet.

Most of these people have talked themselves into believing that they will break free and start living once they accomplish one thing or another. We’re not saying you can’t wait it out. Of course, you can. It is, after all, the safer option. Until it isn’t.


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