What is the goal to your career story? How “did” you get there, if you’re predicting your 10 to 40 year plan? When we start our careers, any opportunity will do, no matter if it’s night shift or underpaid. I don’t think it’s that we become less flexible. It’s that we’ve seen the bad gigs and know that investing our time and effort into “this job” will actually pull us backwards away from our career story’s goal.
Jane works at a warehouse job. It’s enough to pay her rent and any required expenditures. Sure, it’s not the glamorous, high-paying work that she’d done before, but there’s one thing the job has that other jobs don’t provide: time. Jane’s goal in life is to become a self-sufficient musician. Writing, practicing, and performing music takes time. There’s also the flexibility of being able to schedule an evening off to perform without taking a business phone call. This is a goal that directs her career story.
Let’s say that she receives three job offers:
- Spot #1 is about the same as her current job.
- Spot #2 is significantly worse than her current job.
- Spot #3 is just a little better than her current job.
Obviously, she should take Spot #3…
The problem is these are Jane’s interpretations. #3 might pay less than #2, but might be closer to home with more flexible hours. #2 might be with a more well-known company than #1 or #3, but could mean sacrificing her end goal for temporary financial gain. Additionally, consider that Jane already knows her end goal isn’t money-driven. If her goal was just to retire with enough money to be content, then her priorities would be different. That’s where once you know your goal, you can focus directly on it.
Otherwise, you’ll stew in mediocrity.
If you don’t have a career goal: I found mine by figuring out what I enjoy doing in my leisure time that is also productive. I find writing to be therapeutic and empowering. If movies did the same for me, then I’d find a way to either create or critique movies. I would therefore recommend pointing your life’s choices in directions to better enable that career goal. Here’s why this is important: you are going to do this work every single day until you retire. If you don’t love or tolerate it, your work will kill you.
I’ve seen too many employed people with long-term health issues.
Be it physical, mental, or psychological, they’re in jobs they hate because they’re only after money. The problem with that is that they lacked the foresight to see that their meager salary is miniscule compared to what they could be making with more effort. They input minimal effort because they hate what they do. If they turned that around, they’d be moving forward toward their career goal and achieving the financial autonomy to retire without having killed themselves.
If life’s a game, how do you intend to unlock “the best ending” of your career story?
|Sources: My career thus far.
Inspirations: A conversation with a self-sufficient write.
Photo: Sticky notes arranged on a wooden table to diagram the example of working forward or backward toward a goal. Above: edited for clarity. Below: original photo with nearly unreadable (at that size) writing.