These last few weeks I have found myself thinking about my current job. It's a 9-5, Monday through Friday, in an office. I sit in a chair at a computer and help people make money. It's not a great job, but it's something that I can do easily and well, and it's paying me a living wage.
Before this job, I worked in various retail stores for over 13 years. Something that would always come up was how young we all looked. Even when I hit 30 I had customers asking me if I was graduating college that year. When I mentioned that I had my master's degree it was, to borrow a phrase, "like a paradigm shifting without a clutch."
"But you look so young!" was the inevitable follow up.
"Retail keeps you young!" was my inevitable reply.
Does it though? Does retail keep you young? Or do people just associate retail jobs with youth and inexperience?
I think it's both.
Hear me out: it's true that while you need some amazing interpersonal relations skills and a good attitude to work in a retail environment, in the actual realm of "hard skills" you really do not need much. And when you are young and need money, it's relatively easy to obtain a customer service job, provided you have the aforementioned attributes.
However, once you are "in" you are expected to maintain; and that requires a phenomenal amount of effort.
If you look at all the self help speakers: Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, and Tony Robbins (to name a few), they all started off as salesmen. They built their careers on being able to relate to people, sell them things, and turn the lessons they learned into principles with which you can improve your life.
Being in retail, you are in constant motion. Whether it's circling a store, putting away inventory, or simply approaching every person, you are always on your feet and moving.
You are expected to constantly interact with complete strangers. You never know if the next person you meet will be a great customer eager to do business again, or someone who will scream at you because you could not satisfy their demands. When you are kept in this constant state of "what is the next hour going to bring" it keeps your brain and body active. Like foxes in the forrest, you are kept lean and aware at all times. It's great for keeping you active (and therefore young), but not for developing a financially stable future.
While all three of us are working jobs to pay the bills, we all want a career which will keep
us active, engaged, and independent. And when you grow a business out of this passion; constantly networking with strangers and creating amazing content to be proud of in the comfort of your own space...
(Or your Starbucks, wherever your office happens to land you.)
...well, it's all you could hope for in a job, career, or a purposeful life.