Monday, August 15, 2011

Make It Work

In yesterday's New York Sunday Times, gentle readers, there was an article, on the front page of the Styles section (and yes, dear ones, that is the section your MatchGirl always grabs first), entitled Maybe It's Time For Plan C.

In the piece, the reporter spoke with several entrepreneurs who had quit or were laid off from high-powered white collar jobs. But it was this paragraph that struck me:

The lures are obvious: freedom, fulfillment. The highs can be high. But career switchers have found that going solo comes with its own pitfalls: a steep learning curve, no security, physical exhaustion and emotional meltdowns. The dream job is a “job” as much as it is a “dream.”

Um, duh.

It takes a lot of guts to leave a secure position, sure, but anyone who thinks that it won't be a lot of hard work, to strike out on their own ...  But seriously folks, do people not really know that when they give up that golden parachute? Can people really be that naive?

This is an issue your MatchGirl wrote about a handful of weeks ago, in a piece entitled Love In The Time of the Recession. In that piece, I wrote: If you love and enjoy what you are doing, that is amazing. You're one of the lucky ones. But you still need to put yourself out there. You need to work and you need to work hard.

Do people really think, while looking at all the hand-crafted goodness on Etsy that it's just fun and games to those people? Sure, some of them have day jobs, and it's just a fun hobby. But for others, it's a full time job. And it is a ridiculous amount of work. Hard freakin' work.

Though most of the people profiled in the article, though surprised at the actual difficulty of manual labor, told the reporter that they were happy with their decisions, knowing that, at least, they were working for themselves, this little blurb, bothered your MatchGirl, quite a bit.

For some, the unexpected pitfalls can be so treacherous that they no longer consider Plan B a dream job, but a nightmare. That was the unfortunate lesson for Anne-Laure Vibert, 31, who gave up a marketing job in New York, planning glamorous parties for Audemars Piguet, the watchmaker, to become a chocolatier.

A few years ago, she moved to Paris to apprentice with a master chocolatier. Visions of decadent bonbons swirled in her head. Instead, she felt like a modern-day Lucy in the candy factory, hunched over in a chocolate lab packing chocolates and scrubbing pots. If she wasn’t doing that, she was sweeping floors, wrapping gifts, answering telephones or shipping orders.

After four months, she had had enough and called it quits. Her Plan C? She returned to New York and took a job with her old boss, doing marketing for another luxury brand. “It got very lonely, to be honest,” she said.
Apprenticeships are supposed to be hard work. The whole point of them is to learn the business from the ground up. Because, at the end of the day, when you own your own business, you need to do everything. You need to sweep the floor and clean the toilet and make sure supplies are ordered and answer the phone when a customer calls. You HAVE to do EVERYTHING.

Ms. Vibert, had she owned her own business, could certainly not have just quit when the going got rough. She would have had to do the work.

Doing what you love is amazing. It's great. It's so freakin' good.

But, let's remember the obvious - it's still work. Anything worth having, gentle readers, is worth working for.


  1. That's an excellent point, but isn't the dazzling 'work is work' observation a little, well, obvious? I doubt these businesspersons didn't know that - that doesn't mean the breadth of tasks/responsibilities, unforeseen challenges etc. can be daunting no matter how much you knew in advance. And can be overwhelming, especially in the first couple of yrs. In fact, doesn't that happen with pretty much any new business?

  2. Yes. You'd think so.
    If you read the article in the Times, you'd see that pretty much the whole point of it was that the people didn't realize the actuality of the work they would have to do. Like the woman who opened an antique store, who had never even worked a retail job, who was surprised by the unpredictability of the days.
    The first paragraph I quoted sums up what I think is (and apparently you think my whole post is) obvious: "The dream job is a “job” as much as it is a “dream.”"

    Thanks for your comment.