At the start of a year, corporate would announce the same incentive to push sales from associates: One week paid vacation in paradise. The logic was simple---work hard, get rewarded.
Prior years I'd become complacent with mediocrity. Meet goals? Sure. Exceed them? Never. This year, I decided to try something different. I was getting bored with life. I wanted something different. I wanted my trip to paradise.
Countless cold calls and hours of difficult conversations later, I'd hit my annual goal. One month later, I executed my qualifying sale. I was going to paradise. Over the following weeks, corporate benefits finalized my hotel and airfare. My dreams were becoming a reality.
The day had arrived. Excitement on the plane was palpable. I exchanged ideas and expectations with coworkers as we made our way to paradise. We let out a cheer as wheels hit the tarmac. Outside, the sun shined brilliantly, floating at its zenith in a perfectly blue sky. As we passed from the plane to the skybridge a we were greeted with a warm breeze. It was perfection.
A shuttle dropped us off at a beautiful hotel, ideally placed at the intersection of land and sea. I snapped a picture as we arrived. The next five days would be a collage of sand, sun, and drinks. The recipe for relaxation.
As I set my luggage on the bed, I noticed a gift basket in the corner. In the gift basket was chocolates, a padfolio, miscellaneous snacks, and---an itinerary. Each line of the itinerary was the embodiment of my worst nightmare. My collage shifted drastically from relaxation to frustration. My days wouldn't be sand, sun, and drinks but rather, trainings, box lunches, and evaluations.
Over the next week I watched the sun rise and set from a conference room, listened to the crash of waves as I ate a stale lunch in solitude, and felt the warmth of the sun through a double-paned window.
I thought I'd sold my heart out for the chance of a lifetime, but now, I realize I'd sold my soul.