Thursday, September 30, 2010


Whenever anyone gives career advice, they always say that you should do what makes you happy. They usually give you some cheesy line like “do what you love and you’ll love what you do” (or something). But I think it’s pretty safe to say that a majority of people don’t follow this advice. I mean, if I was really doing what I loved, I’d wake up every morning and do whatever job I felt like doing on that particular day. One day, I’d be a sports announcer. The next day, maybe I’d be a golf pro. The next day I’d lead a backpacking trip. The day after that I’d write a sitcom. Maybe that night I’d edit some videos together. Some days, I probably wouldn’t do any job at all. I’d sit by a lake and drink beer (it’s hard to come up with a job title that encompasses that kind of activity).

My point is, there isn’t any one job that I want to do day in and day out. But the very nature of a “job” is that you have to put a lot of hours into one particular thing. And after all of those hours, you’ll be slightly to enormously better than the average person at that thing. Other people will come to you for advice. Younger workers will look up to you. In a field full of ants, you’ll be a slightly more efficient ant.

I keep a list of quotes, observations and musings (mostly culled from the “Quotes of the Day” box on my iGoogle) in an ever expanding Word file. One of these quotes is from James Baldwin:
The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.
If you work at a job long enough, you eventually get to this point. And I think I’ve reached the point in Ski Instructing. It’s not that I don’t like doing the actual lessons (most are an absolute blast), but everything associated with the “profession” of Ski Instructing, year after year, really starts to wear on me. Added responsibilities (that don’t really have anything to do with ski instructing), decreased pay, increased uniform restrictions, decreased pay, higher expectations for certifications, decreased pay – the decision to instruct becomes harder every year.

And, if you don’t mind me saying, I’m a pretty good ski instructor. Every winter, I sacrifice almost all of my free time to it. I’ve put enough hours in so that I know all the drills, I can identify all of a skier’s weaknesses, and I know how to fix all of the problems. And I have a pretty good skier’s mind, too. So even if my solutions don’t work the first time, I have an ability to explain it in another way, or recraft a drill to fit a different purpose. I’m at the highest level of teaching (PSIA level III), and if I go any further (Dev. Team, Examiner, etc.), it would be a job instructing instructors (if that makes any sense).

So I’m having a little personal crisis. I can’t tell if instructing is a worthy pursuit for me or not. I love free skiing (obviously), but I also like teaching great lessons. I like getting my season pass for free, but I don’t really want to do crowd control. I like skiing with my instructor friends, but I really like skiing with my non-instructor friends. I don’t want to offend anyone affected by the recession (a lot of people are truly going through difficult times), but this type of soul searching is probably being done all over America (I’m just lucky that it’s for my weekend job). People have devoted their lives to something, put in the long hours to make it their “job”, spent years building bonds and relationships with their companies and their clients, and then (as a thank you for their years of service) they are getting more responsibility, less pay, and, in some cases, laid off. And we wonder why workers feel so unappreciated.

I definitely feel good about the community college job that I scored last year. It looks like I’ll be able to get that gig again (knock on wood), so there’s a little extra money in my pocket (and some great lessons to look forward to). Those are the kind of days I love. Show up, teach for two hours, do a lot of skiing, see you next time. As for the weekend job, I’d like to think my mood is going to get better, but I’m not too optimistic about it. I’m going to put in my 25 days in this year, do my PSIA re-up, and see where it goes from there. I’m just lucky that, if I do decide that the benefits aren’t worth the sacrifices, I still have another job to pay the bills.


  1. Great post. My philosophy on jobs has changed throughout the years. When I was young, I wanted a job that I would truly love, something self defining, that helped a lot of people. Pretty much every job helps people in some way or else the job would not be needed, so that does not matter. But some are certainly more personally helpful than others. But I turned away from the self defining aspect.

    Some folks are truly lucky to have the ideal job. But for the rest of us, my opinion is that jobs are done so that we are put in a position to define ourselves when we are not working. A means to an end. And our goal should be to get that job as close to ideal as possible but also with as little sacrifice to our passions outside of work. A delicate balance, especially if you consider long term vs present (but there is no time like now, IMO).

    Any ways, I enjoy my job but I know it is not the perfect match. It is not a job I truly love and it is not self defining. I am one of the best at my job and can say so without ego because I not only believe it but am told it by others. But when it comes down to it, it is the right pay in the right location to make the right things for me happen.

    Don't know how you do it working in the ski industry though! I have made it a point to not get involved with any work when it comes to the things I am most passionate about. Most people thought I might end up in music but I loved music too much to do that to myself. :)

  2. Yeah. That's an excellent point. Maybe I like skiing too much to work in the ski industry.