Maneesh Goyal was tired of living in what he saw as a black and white world, where his professional life and personal passions were separate. So Goyal—who at the time worked in non-profits and dreaded Mondays—decided to create a grey one.
Live in the Grey is an online community and movement that challenges the way people think about work and encourages them to take risks in order to finally (finally!) love what they do for a living.
“The idea of work-life balance is antiquated. We promote a work life blend [of] your personal and professional interests,” says 39-year-old Goyal.
Of course, finding bliss in a 9-to-5 gig is easier said than done when there are bills to pay, but Goyal approaches the topic with a lot of realism.
Here, he dishes on the secrets behind creating a successful blend, how to know if unhappiness is due to your career path or your job, and why pretty much no one likes Mondays. —Molly Gallagher
What inspired you to start Live in the Grey? The way the world works, you almost can’t live a fulfilled life and hate your job—in many ways, your work defines you.
But I was struck by how many people I was meeting who would invariably say, “I f**king hate my job.” And I was struck by the sense of resignation—people thinking, “This is how it has to be,” or saying, “I’m going to live my life on nights and weekends.”
You made a big change yourself. How? I was working at a non-profit organization and I did not like my job. I found myself unhappy, always getting the Sunday blues. I’ve always been enchanted with the idea of helping people and I got into the non-profit world for that reason. But after a few years I realized that the pace wasn’t for me.
So I took some risks, and now I’m in a different industry—marketing and events. That’s what MKG, the Experiential Marketing Agency, my other company, is. I started it more than 10 years ago.
So, what does “living in the grey” actually mean? We talk about that work-life blend—mixing your personal and professional interests. If you’re into sports, but work in banking, maybe there is a way for you to transition to doing both. Oftentimes, we don’t think about fulfillment and our personal self when we make professional choices. We encourage people to make decisions through that lens.
Does that mean working for yourself? Because that probably stops a lot of people. We don’t just promote entrepreneurship. Our philosophy is not that you have to work for yourself. Companies should help you create grey environments and look at employees as human beings, as opposed to resources.
Making a big career move is daunting. What are the first steps someone should take? Begin by asking yourself, “What doesn’t feel like work?” Would you want to be a baker? Where do you see yourself? If you have a hard time answering that, I suggest asking yourself, “What do I do on a plane? What kinds of magazines do I read?”
Another thing to think about is what people thank you for. Maybe you’re good at something and you don’t even realize it.
You’ve got an interesting way of looking at hobbies… I call them “side hustles.” A side hustle is so important, because it adds dimensionality to your human existence and your life purpose. It opens your mind and spirit.
But it also opens you up to new communities. When you meet people who have a similar passion, you immediately have a kinship. There are so many things you can accomplish in your professional life, but it’s important to have that side hustle.
How do you differentiate between hating your career path and not being happy with certain parts of it? We are not talking about utopia. Work still involves stress. But when you look around, do you like the people you’re with? Are you friends with some of them? Is it an industry you enjoy? That’s what we’re trying to get people to embrace. You’ll never find a place where everything is perfect. Monday mornings are hard for everyone.
(Photos: stocksnap.io, Live in the Grey)
For more on finding your calling (and even changing the world!), we’ve got tips from a seriously inspirational female entrepreneur.