Why I Can’t Imagine Enjoying Any Corporate Job

3 min read

In my day job as a data scientist, I work with data (go figure) all day long. Someone hands me a data set, I clean it up, analyze it, build models, create visualizations, and produce reports. These reports give insight to business leaders in my company, which helps them make more informed decisions.

Oddly, this type of work is exactly what I choose to do for fun outside of my day job. For this blog, I often hunt down financial data on the web – data on income, salaries, net worth, jobs, rent prices, food prices, stock returns, cost of living – and clean it up, analyze it, visualize it, create blog posts about it, and share it with the world.

Related: Every visual I have ever created

So, why don’t I love my corporate job if I get to do the exact same work I choose to do in my spare time for fun? 

I’m glad you asked.

My Ideal Day Vs. My Actual Day

I might love my day job if my daily schedule looked like this:

9 A.M. – Arrive. Grab coffee. Put my headphones in, get to work on a project of my own choosing. Enter flow state.

11 AM – Take a break. Go for a short walk. Get some sun.

11:15 AM – Get back to work on the project. Enter flow state.

1 PM – Head home for the day. My creative energy and motivation is sapped. 

That would be wonderful.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. My schedule is more like:

9 AM – Arrive. Grab coffee. Put my headphones in, get to work on a project someone delegated to me. 

9:15 AM – Get interrupted by coworker. 

“Hey man, did you see there are donuts in the break room?”

“Oh cool, thanks for the heads up.”

9:16 AM – Headphones in. Back to work. 

9:30 AM – Receive email from boss. Asks about the progress of the report. I email back.

10 AM – Pointless meeting. I shouldn’t even be in it. I scroll through Rockstar Finance on my laptop. 

11 AM – Back to work.

11:03 AM – Receive email from coworker. Asks if I have free time to do a code review. I email back. 

11:30 AM – Pointless meeting.

12:30 PM – Lunch break.

1:30 PM – Back to work. Respond to more emails asking about updates.

2 PM – Pointless meeting.

2:30 PM – Back to work. I have no motivation. I want to go home. Fill the next 2.5 hours staring at the clock, reading through personal finance articles, pretending to be busy if anyone happens to walk by. Respond to more emails.

5 PM – Leave work.

My actual work day isn’t just filled with interesting work I enjoy doing. It’s wrapped in layers upon layers of bullshit, with interesting work sprinkled in here and there.

I rarely enter a flow state at work because I never have huge chunks of uninterrupted time where I can concentrate deeply.

This is why I can’t imagine enjoying any corporate job. No matter how much I like the work itself, the environment and daily schedule is just too awful. 

The deadlines. The meetings. The performance reviews. The soul-sucking atmosphere of cubicle-land. It all sucks the fun out of work. 

Corporate Culture Can Turn Interesting Work Into a Nightmare

I could imagine that blogging could even be turned into a miserable job if it resembled corporate culture. 

Zach, how’s that new visual coming? What’s your estimated completion time? We gotta get it out the door by this afternoon.

Hey, can we tweak the colors on that graph? I think we can do better.

Zach, we have three status update meetings today. You need to join even though none of the other projects pertain to what you’re working on.

I need you in the office working on the blog eight hours per day, even if you can only do deep work for four hours per day.

Send me a summary of everything you accomplished this week by noon. Need it for a meeting with the higher-ups. 

The sole reason blogging is so much fun is because the style of work is the complete opposite of my day job. I don’t have to attend meetings, provide status updates on my work, respond to emails, sit in a specific location for a set number of hours each day, or work on projects I find boring. 

I have complete freedom to create whatever I want on any given day and I get to enter a deep flow state. To me, this is enjoyable work.

Get In, Get Out

I can’t imagine enjoying any corporate job, no matter how enjoyable the work itself is, which is why I don’t plan on sticking around in cubicle-land any longer than I have to.

I want to make as much money as fast as possible and get the hell out. I don’t need enough to be financially independent, just enough to be financially comfortable with transitioning to work I enjoy, which hopefully means working for myself.

The concept of “work” doesn’t scare me. I can easily sit in a coffee shop for five hours on a Saturday morning and work on something I find interesting.

I enjoy the grind, just not in a corporate environment.

That’s why I don’t plan on hanging out in Corporate America for the long-term. I plan on making the most of my time here, using my salary to build a solid financial foundation, then happily moving on.

My favorite free financial tool I use is Personal Capital. I use it to track my net worth, manage my spending, and keep an eye on my monthly cash flow. It only takes a few minutes to set up and it makes tracking your finances simple and easy. I recommend trying it out.

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Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.

16 Replies to “Why I Can’t Imagine Enjoying Any Corporate Job”

  1. I can really relate to this. I love working hard and completing challenging tasks. Getting into a flow state and coming out on the other side with work product I’m proud of is deeply rewarding. But corporate environments really do suck so much energy out of you. They pull you in 7 different directions, ask for so much of your time (even when it’s not necessary for productivity) and still expect you to come into work every day looking ultra-professional with a smile on your face.

    Thanks for sharing. Your blog is great.

  2. Hey Zach,

    I definitely agree with this entire article. I get in at 8:30 – 9am and don’t get home until after 6pm and then have to do it all over again. I am trying to become financially free to do what I want by investing in real estate. Hope your journey in the corporate world doesn’t last much longer!

    Kemp posting, love the articles!

  3. The MEETINGSSSSS. Oh dear lord, if I could just get rid of meetings I would be 50% happier at work. There are some days I’m in meetings for six hours, and only needed to be in two of the meetings.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’m also in the same boat of loving the actual work I do, but not the way in which companies need it to get done. I’ve been doing a lot more freelancing with the same skillset and think it’s much more up my alley. It’s a separate challenge, for sure, but hopefully one day I can make the jump to fully freelancing. Ahhhh.

  4. This is exactly why I’m planning my escape from corporate land. The last two weeks I’ve had to ask for an alternative schedule which includes working from home and it’s been downright amazing. It’s given me a new look on my job, turns out it’s not so bad. Plus, I’ve never been more productive. Unfortunately because of the union I belong to I’ll never be able to make this a long term situation at this current job. So that’s why I have two interviews in the next two weeks which are transitioning into working for myself.

  5. I feel your pain. Even though I work remotely for my company now, my focus is always disrupted by phone calls or emails. And when I worked in the office, it was those things plus the annoying coworkers stopping by to BS for 15 minutes. Things are better now but still a fair share of corporate BS.

  6. I’m glad to hear I am not the only one that reads personal finance posts at work while sitting in pointless meetings. I am involved with a system implementation project run by external consultants and all we do is sit in meetings trying to design solutions. Sometimes I am double and tripled booked! I just want to be left alone so I can do real work at the office (or surf the internet).

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Love your blog, Zach! This one really inspired me. How much are you going to save before you quit the corporate world?

    1. Thanks, Harald! It’s tough to put an exact number on when I’ll quit my job. I would be comfortable with quitting around $200k – $250k if I had a substantial income outside of my 9-5 job as well. Ideally I would like to hit this point by summer 2019.

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