What Have You Signed Up For?

Chances are, what you find yourself doing day in and day out is not what you signed up for. Maybe you signed up for an awesome job where you could do something interesting: write for a living, create cool images, formulate strategies, protect an existing brand, launch a new brand, create a new company. Or maybe you signed up for something that would simply fund the thing that you wanted to do: the hobby, the family, the travel, the screenplay, the spiritual life.

But as you sit in back-to-back meetings where no decisions are made, or socialize the business case for your content project for the umpteenth time, or fill out certain tedious forms because that’s the way it’s done, over and over you find yourself saying, “I didn’t sign up for THIS.” 

See, nobody signs up to not do what they want to do. We sign up for doing the thing that we prepared for, the thing that makes us happy, fulfilled, and excited. 

When we get surprised and discover that we have to spend time evolving those around us so that we can do the thing we signed up for – or, worse, when we evolve ourselves into something other than what we wanted to become – we end up disappointed, even debilitated.

A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that 60% of employees say new-job realities differ from the expectations set during the hiring process. The study found that thwarted expectations varied across areas such as salary, company culture, advancement opportunities, job responsibilities, and employee morale.

These findings corroborate what I find with clients. It’s not just you! Nobody signed up for this.

What do we do about it? Paradoxically, the answer is in the realization that, yeah, nobody signs up for this. All of us ­– despite what our Facebook or Instagram feeds may look like – are in the same boat. We’re all facing things we didn’t sign up for.

Once you accept that what you sign up for is rarely what you get, it gets easier to make choices. You can look at the things you have to do as stepping stones to the things you want to do. Or you can scratch your name off and sign up for something new. All you need is a pen.

Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.