Lots of people want it: a dream job, flexible schedule, high income, energizing work, big network, freedom.
But do they really want it?
I’ve had a rash of coaching sessions recently with folks who want it.
They want to create meaningful work. Build something great. Gain more freedom. Love what they do.
But they aren’t showing they want it by going after it.
I’ve been on both sides. When I really wanted to do more meaningful work in 2005 I quit my job, rented a Penske truck, and moved to figure it out. Guess what? I figured it out.
But when I felt like I wanted to write a book about my experience in 2008 I didn’t write the book…at least for 7 years. Why not? Because I didn’t really want it.
The sign of really wanting something is that you go and do something about it. Here’s the best part: it doesn’t even have to be the best thing or the right thing. Just do something.
Oh, and sacrifice is usually involved, whether it’s sacrificing time, enjoyment, comfort, peace, stability, predictability, structure, or hobbies. Sacrifice and happiness are joined at the hip.
So what do you want, and what are you willing to do to get it?
Mostly they do it arbitrarily, the same way they pick a vacation spot.
You see a boat sitting on water with a couple on the deck sipping pina coladas and think, “Man, I want to go there.”
You buy the plane ticket, book the hotel, and get there only to find out the weather isn’t like that all the time, that boat doesn’t exist so you had to rent a smaller, louder one, and the pina coladas are watery.
You see a picture in ESPN the Magazine of a baseball GM talking on the phone making a deal and think, “Man, I want to be a baseball GM.”
Your favorite TV show was Law and Order and you think, “Man, I want to be a lawyer.”
Your favorite teacher was your math teacher and you think, “Man, I want to be a math teacher.”
You once did a project where you built a bridge out of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows and you think, “Man, I should be a civil engineer and build stuff.”
Let me propose a different method:
Sound like a lot of work? It is. But you didn’t expect that it would be easy to do what you love, did you?!
If it was, everyone would do it.
…to a job you haven’t been offered.
I recently commuted to a meeting with a neuroscientist who’s definitely found his passion and is winning in his career. I was surprised that he almost didn’t take his current job.
He graduated and got a great gig in Connecticut working for a lab, creating his brand in the field. One day he got a call from a university in Texas offering him a position.
He said, “No thanks.”
Then he remembered this advice from a mentor:
“Never say no to a job you haven’t been offered.”
He agreed to at least come check out the position, loved it, and has been there for nine years. It’s been a great fit and propelled his career.
You might be thinking, “Man, I’d never say no to a job offer.” Yet, most of us do this most of the time. It sounds like this:
You might be foreclosing an option that could actually be a great fit.
Not all lawyers argue in court, not all educators are teachers, not all non-profit workers make less than $30k a year, and whatever you think about that field probably isn’t totally, completely, and undeniably true across the board.
Give it a chance. It may be the best move you make.
The reason you don’t love your job isn’t because of your boss, or your organization, or your job description.
It’s not your salary or your benefits package, or lack thereof.
The reason you don’t love your job is because of incongruence, and that’s a you thing. You control whether or not your job is congruent or incongruent with who you are.
Have you taken the time to get clear about who you are and then intentionally create a plan for more alignment with your authentic self?
I was talking with a former marriage counselor recently who said an interesting thing. He got out of the industry decades ago because he said that most clients came into his office wanting to fix the mess around them but weren’t interested in fixing themselves. He found it too difficult to work with people who didn’t realize that they can only control themselves. I told him the same is true of career.
The solution isn’t out there. You are the problem and the solution.
Here’s how you solve your dissatisfaction:
Start with this analysis and see where it takes you. It may simply be that you haven’t been asking the right questions.
Incrementally. One bite at a time…or so I hear.
I’m not even sure that’s a word based on the red squiggly line I’m getting from Microsoft Word, but the concept is definitely true.
Incrementalization is all about small steps done consistently over time to lead to an ultimate outcome.
To give credit where it’s due, my good friend Aaron coined the term. He’s training for an ultra marathon right now, one of those crazy 50-mile races that no one does unless they’re insane. He was talking about training and said it’s all about breaking it down. If you think of it as a 50-mile run you’ll get overwhelmed. But if you think about it as 10 five-mile runs it becomes doable.
All great things come incrementally. Ultra-marathons. Investing. Dieting. Education. Exercise. Spirituality.
And…wait for it…
Career. Or more specifically, loving what you do and getting paid to do it.
The goal in career resetting is incrementalization – taking small steps that get you closer to your best-fit career. The challenge comes when you try to take the leap from a job you hate straight to a job you love.
That’s tough, and can be discouraging.
When I decided I didn’t like what I was doing, I took a step. And another. And another. And with each step, I analyzed what I liked and didn’t like and used that self-reflection to guide the next step.
This past week I met with someone who belongs in the State Department, another person who’d make a great counselor, a future politician, and an entrepreneur in the making. None of these people are actually in these careers, or really anything close to them. But that’s ok, because the goal isn’t to get there now; the goal is simply to make sure their next step gets them closer.
Where they end up may not be in these areas at all, but heading toward them means they have a stronger likelihood of landing in something congruent with who they are.
If you’re feeling stuck, try reducing the size of the bite you’re trying to take. You can’t eat an elephant all at once. You also can’t land a dream job in one leap.
Try one bite at a time.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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