If you are your own employer, would you hire yourself and pay your salary to do your amount of work? If the answer is yes, that’s fantastic! If not, perhaps you are not doing your best or do not have the right job yet. Some say they need the money, as their ideal job doesn’t pay much, while others say they would do things differently if they were in charge.
Every individual has a unique career path, just like no two lives are exactly the same. It is useful to draft a flexible career plan before starting to work and then modify along the way. The career path starts forming from the very first job regardless if it’s a temporary or part-time position. Everyone has different goals – one person may want to make $50,000 annually by 30 years old, while another person may prefer to try 20 different jobs. At 40 years, one person may aspire to be financially comfortable while another might want to become a CEO.
The first five years of work is similar to the first five years of our lives. We develop our working muscles, get used to the working reality and cultivate our work styles. It is the best time to try different jobs to find out what resonates best with our personalities.
Working is also a lot like being in a relationship. Interviews are like first dates, the first few months are like exclusive dating and a full-time job is like being in a relationship. When we find “the one,” we “marry” the job and work at it until the end of our working lives — for better or for worse.
As with relationships, there are good days and not-so-good days. There should be more days that evoke “I love my work” than “I hate my work.” If this is not the case, you’re probably not in a job suited for you. Being in love with your work is like maintaining a relationship with intimate partner — we consciously choose to be in love rather than accidentally fall in love.
For every work position, always have an end date in mind. The end date could a time period, a change in scope or position or a change in phase of life. One might decide he or she will stay in a job for three years and if there is no progress or a promotion, he or she will move on. Another person might aim to be promoted within three years or seek for another job with better benefits.
Some people choose their work according to expected life phases; climb corporate ladder when single, have fixed hours when married, work part-time when kids are young and achieve income stability when kids get older.
Most of us work in our jobs partially due to money reasons, from paying bills to seeking financial independence. While happiness may double when you move from making $12,000 to $24,000 annually, but such may not be the case when it jumps from $24,000 to $36,000 or $48,000 — the standard of living just become more comfortable. Research found that the happiness tipping point for salary is between $50,000 and $75,000 annually.
A popular sentiment is that you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. Add their annual salaries and divide by 5 — your income is likely to differ less than 10 percent. Choosing to live in abundance with high happiness levels and personal success is a road less travelled. It is easier to be an average individual living a mediocre life than a successful individual living an extraordinary life. Although daily decisions matter, the biggest divider is derived from the value gleaned from work.
An innate human need is to make a difference for others. It is a reason why some choose to work in non-profits, healthcare or teaching. These professions are demanding but fulfilling since we gain happiness by making others happy. We are happiest at our jobs when we feel that our work makes a difference. Happy baristas believe their coffee make customers’ day and happy gardeners believe their gardens can lighten visitors’ mood. Happy urban planners believe their city plans positively affect the country and happy researchers believe their work can help many people in the future.
Having a simple job checklist can be useful. One might prefer spontaneous jobs that differ daily (like events management) while another may need routine jobs (like in research). One might want a visionary and challenging job (like corporate planning) while another may prefer a task-oriented job (like operations). One might prefer people-oriented work (like being a business owner) while another might prefer to work independently (like a trader).
After working in a job for several years, we subconsciously move into comfort zones. We get used to the job routine, regular colleagues and a cushy salary. The idea of being in a new environment and starting all over again can be uncomfortable. Changes can be difficult and catalyze, but change is the only constant in our environment. Learning to adapt with change, having a positive attitude and believing in your work make the profession worthwhile.
When planning, we need to be aware of the desired final result. For example, what do we want to achieve by age 65? Some of us may want to own businesses, some want to retire with passive income, some want to be CEOs and others want to leave a legacy. Whatever it is that we choose, it’s important to have a vision of the desired endgame.