How Aspiration Killed My Motivationby@tomerpacific
330 reads
330 reads

How Aspiration Killed My Motivation

by tomerpacificNovember 21st, 2021
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

Never get too close to the sun
featured image - How Aspiration Killed My Motivation
tomerpacific HackerNoon profile picture

We are always told to be motivated, feel inspired and follow our dreams. That sentiment is so engraved into our psyche, that no one ever talks about the consequences that arise when motivation is not enough. Times when motivation may get the best of you. Whether it is from trying to keep feeling motivated for a long period of time or from trying to achieve something you are motivated about and not getting anywhere.

“Nothing worth having comes easy”, Theodore Roosevelt

In the same time, it is rarely talked about the complications that may arise from such an uneasy road you are taking. In all fairness, it is hard to keep your own motivation going for a long time. It is even hard to feel motivated after you have a set back on your way or when you strike out completely. The road ahead is not clear and straightforward and you could travel through several blind turns and steep inclines before anything becomes tangible. Below, I will share my journey as I battle this predicament. This article is not going to be one of those feel good stories. There won't be any life lessons to be learned here or any philosophical teachings one can take home.

This story is going to suck.

It will be depressing.

It will be honest.

It will leave you with something to think about.

I love my craft. I enjoy getting paid for it in my 9 – 5 job and I especially enjoy it when I come back home and work on honing it. There are endless things to learn and you can find yourself loosing track of time if you are trying to solve a problem not many have faced before. In its essence, you are faced on a daily basis with solving problems. The amount of possibilities to create something is infinite and the craft itself is constantly changing and evolving.

Now, at this point, you could be asking yourself what I am doing for the better part of a day that I talk about with such enthusiasm? Well, it is of no relevance to this story what my craft is exactly. You can imagine it to be anything you like as this story can be translated into any other profession. It's only important to remember that I am in it, not because I have to, but because I want to. This admiration I have for what I am doing, manifests itself by wanting to advance my career in this specific craft. I have no desire to switch skills and I think you can tell by now that I am really passionate about what I do. This passion fuels my daily job cycle and my interactions with those around me. After several years in the field under my belt, I started thinking about which career path I would like to follow. I could either go the professional route and indulge myself into a more technical position or I could choose the leadership role. Leading colleagues does not necessarily mean helping them get from point A to point B in their daily tasks, but to lead people in their journey within this craft. To figure out with them what it is they want to do and help them achieve it. Or at least, that is how I see it.

But why all this fuss? Why this need and desire to do something that may keep me farther from the craft? Can't I just be content with my daily routine? To put it simply, no. I am not the kind of man that will rest on his laurels. I don't see any benefit in staying in the same position I am in today for the rest of my career. Sure, everyone wants to feel like there is progress in their career and there are few people who like to do the same thing for the rest of their lives. But my want to advance to a leadership role doesn't stem from these reasons.

During one of the jobs I held, my knowledge and expertise yielded me the opportunity to mentor and educate those around me. My superiors were aware of this, as I also made sure to point it out to them, and I communicated my desire to progress in my career. After half of a year where I was put through the gauntlet to assess my readiness to lead people, I was informed I would be the next in line. Meaning, that when such a position opens up in our group, I would be the top candidate. I was happily satisfied with the knowledge that I had arrived at a place where my advancement would come through. Be it sooner or later. Fast forward two years later, I was still stuck at the same position. Every end of year performance review had the same rinse and repeat prepared monologue from my superior :

"The group is not expected to grow in the next year and no budget has been allocated to do so. We'll have to wait and see if any changes happen in the next year and decide what to do"

I was getting tired of hearing this. Three years in a row.

I understood that no blame rests on my superior, but I couldn't help but feel frustrated. How long will I be in this constant waiting cycle? Sort of like a hamster in it's wheel. Forever running, but always in place.

That's when I decided that it is better to try my luck elsewhere. I surmised that I might have a better chance starting a new at another company, while emphasizing my desire to become a leader as part of the interviewing process. That way, if a company would tell me that there is little to no chance of it happening, I wouldn't set myself up for failure. Sounds reasonable, right?

Boy, was I wrong.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

There is a nefarious catch 22 in the industry that I work in. Once you graduate, when you start applying for jobs, they want to see any past professional experience. But since, you are a fresh graduate, you have none. And you get rejected because of this. So you are in this loop of how will you get any professional experience, if no one is willing to hire you because you don't have any.  The same goes for leadership positions.

So I knew I couldn't apply for those types of positions. Instead, I applied to various levels of positions, where my skills fit the profile. After every first recruiter phone call that I received, there was always a disclaimer that resounded in my mind after the conversation ended:

“The position you are interviewing for is not a leader position and we cannot promise that it will lead to it. Of course, the company is growing and there may be opportunities in the near future.”

This, I expected and I completely understand why it is being said. I whole heartedly support transparency and setting up expectations before the interviewing process begins. What I did not expect was the weird scenarios that were spawned due to me being forward about my career goals.

At one company I interviewed at, I managed to pass all of the interview processes and make it to the end. I was excited by the product and the people along the way and I received the notion that the feeling was mutual. I did inform all the people I met along the way about my career path and my desire to evolve. I had the resume and explanations to back up my desire and they all seemed to understand why I wanted to become a leader and agree with my reasoning. All throughout the process, nothing was said about the position not being able to evolve to a leadership role. On the contrary, I was told that this is something the company is looking for. People who want to advance and have the skills to show for it.

During this interviewing process, I always got a call back the next day informing me that I moved on to the next phase. After the last interview, two days passed and I heard nothing. I knew something was awry. The third day came and with it, I received a call from the recruiter. She apologized that it took them some time to get back to me, but that they needed some time to think about things. She told me that they had decided not to proceed with me as a candidate. She said that due to my aspirations and due to the fact that the role was that of a sole developer, they wouldn't want me to get disappointed. Disheartened, I thanked her for her candor and for the time invested. But I could not wrap my mind around why I had to go through the entire process without them communicating this problem at the start?

At a different company, after the first initial interview with the prospective team's leader, I suddenly got a call a few days later asking me if I have time to meet the company's R&D manager before moving on with the interviewing process. This phase was not talked about with the person I interviewed with and all he told me was that the next interview would be a technical one with him. I was surprised by the request, the fact that it was not mentioned and the urgency in which it was required to be done, but I obliged. During this conversation, I knew the higher manager had an ulterior motive behind this talk. I just waited to see when he would get to the point. Right after asking me why I am looking to switch jobs and hearing my answer, he started to reveal what he was after. Since he heard from the previous interviewer that I wanted to become a leader, he wanted to have a more in depth conversation with me to better understand my motives and why I wanted to become one. He also wanted to emphasize the company's view on leaders in the R&D group and to portray the future of the group. Why this step was required and the further investigation about my aspirations is not clear to me. Especially this early on in the interviewing process.

A third company was super excited to hire me all along the interviewing process and really appreciated and respected my aspirations and my goals. At some point, they even told me I was their top candidate who they want to close a deal with. But before the last stage, I got a phone call from the recruiter saying that because of my aspirations and the current position, they wouldn't want me to get upset since it does not have the immediate leadership traits.


I find it really baffling that on one hand, people who don't have any motivation or don't want to progress in their lives, are looked down and even scolded. But on the other hand, when people do strive to better themselves, they are being questioned about why it is they want to do so. This dichotomy is at the base of my frustration. If during interviews I don't talk about my aspirations, I might be labeled as someone that doesn't have what it takes to join said company. It is pretty common to be asked, where do you see yourself in 2–5 years. If you don't reply with a smart answer, that could be your ticket out. When I do voice my future career plans, I am meticulously grilled about it and more often than not, am ruled out because of it.

Why is it so strange to see people that want to better themselves? Are we so near sighted as a people that anyone who does not fit a certain criteria, is written off?  I envisioned that if you show people your investment and talk about your aspirations with enthusiasm, they will be impressed. What reason do they have not to be? They will surely see the lucrative potential in hiring someone that will push himself (or herself) and the rest of the people with him/her to become better. While most companies state this on the docket for every position they are hiring, it does not always translate to what they are actually looking for.