April 27, 2008

New Career Means New LIfe? Argh!

Today I came upon the marketing website of a Facebook friend. His copy begins with, “There must be more to life than this!” Indeed there is; so that's a good come-on. This former direct response copywriter likes it!

I read further: there is a compelling list of common work and career-related complaints, including fear of career change, office politics, bureaucratic red tape, feeling trapped and suffocated, fatigue and depression, lack of motivation, feeling devalued and out of control, stuck in a rut, no growth prospects, lack of interest in the work itself.

So far, so good.

Then comes this invitation:

"Create the life you really want!" "Envision what it would be like!" "Live out your dreams!" "Take control of your life and increase your happiness!"

How do you do this?

1. Change your dead-end career that is the source of your unhappiness!
2. Take every course and read every book about how life can be better!
3. Do everything this guy tells you to do in his eCourse, filled with "amazing, secret, life-changing strategies and techniques" for the low, low price of...not the $397 it's purportedly worth...not the $297 that ought to be the rock-bottom price for this holy grail...but a mere $197 with a full money-back guarantee!

But for you, if you're among the first 100 customers, his course costs just $97. Plus five "bonuses worth up to $777."

Sounds great, right?

My response: Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

Marketing hype notwithstanding (and, trust me, it gets even worse), I'm not saying his product isn't wonderful; I haven't seen it. It could be just terrific, and worth every penny of that 97 bucks, even and especially without those bonuses (at least one of which is in the public domain anyway).

However, my first indication that something is amiss here lies in the promise that the job itself is your problem, and if you change your career, you will change your life. It might be true that if I switch my career from, say, middle manager to fire-fighter (or to a self-published author of success-oriented eCourses), my life will be different. Will it be happier? That depends on a lot more than a physical career change. (If you have any interest in and experience with inquiry at all, you already know this.)

The second indication that this offer may not be kosher is the 2006 copyright on the web page. So, two years later, he hasn't yet sold his first 100 copies of this groundbreaking eCourse, plus bonuses, for the low, low price of $97? Hmm. Either he's a very poor marketer, or he's a liar.

Or, perhaps he meant this price was good for the first 100 customers on this particular day, though his copy doesn't say that.

Third red flag: although this man says he discovered that one must be devoted to lifelong learning—take every course, read every book—he later says this eCourse is the ticket to Nirvana. So now I"m confused.

Fourth red flag: valuable "bonuses" which are yours to keep, even if you think the course is a crock and you want your money back. (Note that these bonuses are not "worth" $777, just worth up to that amount, by someone's calculations who would, perhaps, not be you or me.)

Okay, I didn't mean this to be a mini-course in how to detect a skeevy marketing ploy. (If it were, there's a lot more I could say about his sales pitch.)

My intention is this:

If you think that your outer circumstances create your happiness, you're going to be disappointed every time. Yes, they can contribute to happiness, of course. We all have basic needs, and if those are unmet, it's darn hard to be happy. If you're an unhappy middle manager, and your unhappiness stems from thoughts like, "There's no room for advancement," or "I need my colleagues to respect me," as much as you love hosing down infernos, you could be miserable as a fire-fighter too.

Everyone already knows (though, in desperate times, we tend to forget) that no book, eCourse, bonus, "secret," practice, relationship, or technique will give you ultimate control over anything, will make you a "winner" every time or will permanently change your life to allow you to "live out your dream." I promise you, it's an inside job. People are going to do what they do, jobs are what they are, and we human beings have mood swings when we believe what we think.

By all means, change your job if that's what you know to do. I did; or rather, my job was changed for me, more than once. Am I happier? In some ways, yes, and I am not immune to many of the thoughts listed at the beginning of the Facebook friend's web page.

Actually, when I read the list, I became excited. I love to question these kinds of thoughts. The insights I glean, the creativity and impetus to move towards peace in my life and work—whether I stay in my career or leave it—are bonuses to which I can't attach any monetary value.

And now for the sales pitch: Transformational Inquiry: Working on Your Work. No bonuses, no discounts, no promises; just some good stuff that has helped me, and that it delights me to pass along to you. Caveat emptor: if you purchase it, it will help me to pay the bills, which, since this helps me to meet some basic needs, does seem to contribute to my happiness.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

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