The Right Work For You
Brian counted down the minutes until 8pm. That was the predetermined time the tax team decided as quitting time for tonight. Some nights it was 9pm, others it was 11pm. It was busy season after all and massive amounts of overtime were required, including most weekends.
Something didn’t sit well in the pit of Brian’s stomach. Just a year ago, he graduated from college with a degree in accounting and was excited about joining the tax practice of a national accounting firm. Visions of one day making partner danced in his head. Six months later he married his high school sweetheart and, after the honeymoon, he dove right into busy season and hadn’t seen much of her since.
The overtime was annoying, but Brian just wasn’t enjoying the job itself. Sitting in an office with piles of corporate tax returns and receipts wasn’t a match for his personality. He longed to get from behind the desk and actually get to talk to clients — but that wasn’t part of the job description.
Four years of college — paid for with student loans — and he was miserable at work! He felt guilty and stupid for even thinking about all the time and money that had been wasted. Perhaps he should have majored in something else and chosen a different career path — but it was too late now — he had student loans and other bills to pay.
His wife Heather was his rock and always supported him. She urged him to talk to his assigned mentor at work and ask for advice. He sent Mark an email that night and set up a lunch for later in the week.
The day of the lunch finally arrived and Brian couldn’t wait to get Mark’s thoughts.
“So what’s on your mind?” asked Mark after they placed their orders at a local burger joint.
“I’m going to get right to the point. I hate my job and I don’t know what to do about it,” replied Brian.
Mark let out a humongous laugh that went on for a good thirty seconds. Brian didn’t know how to react.
“Let me let you in on a little secret. No one at the firm likes doing taxes, except for Mitch Rosenstein. That guy lives for it.”
“So if everyone else hates their job, why do they keep doing it? Why not switch careers and do something else?”
“Think about it,” said Mark. “You go to college to learn about the field you think you are interested in, but you decided on this field when you’re nineteen years old and still trying to figure things out. Then you graduate and your degree gets you a job, which you really need because your student loans are coming due and you need a new car and other things. The job pays well but you hate the work. You really want to do something else — but you can’t because you either have to take on more student loans to go back and study the field you really like, or quit and try to find an entry-level job with a starting salary that doesn’t cover your bills. I call it the Work Catch 22.”
Brian couldn’t believe it. He appreciated Mark’s honesty but it rocked him to his core. It was like a secret that no one told you until it was too late.
“So what you’re saying I should just buckle down for the next forty years, keep my head down, and find ways to deal with the misery?”
“I’ve been at the firm for twenty years and I’ve just accepted that the work provides me no satisfaction — but I have other hobbies and interests that do — and the money I earn from this job allows me to do those things. The good thing is you are young and still have options. Once you buy a house and have kids, you are basically trapped at that point. You can’t switch fields because to put it simply, you can’t afford it.”
“If you were in my shoes, what would you do?” Brian bluntly asked.
“You should quickly determine what it is you actually enjoy doing. I love working on cars. If I had it to do over again, I would have skipped college and went to trade school to become a mechanic. Once you know that, you should find the quickest way to make it a career. It could mean accepting a lower-paying job and working your way up — or maybe even starting or buying a business. Business owners make the most money of anyone. Remember that.”
In their book Find Your Balance Point, Brian Tracy and Christina Stein outline a list of seven indicators of the right work for you which will point you to a career in which you will feel fully engaged and be the happiest in serving other people:
- The right work for you is something that you really enjoy doing, something that you love to do.
- The right work for you is easy for you to learn and easy to do. In most cases, you learned it automatically without thought or effort.
- You love learning more and more about the work if it is the right work for you.
- When you are engrossed in this work, the hours fly past. You forget what time it is, and later you are surprised to see how much time has passed.
- The right work for you gives you energy when you are doing it. You can spend hours at this work, often forgetting to eat.
- If it is the right work for you, you want to be excellent at it, and you are constantly striving to learn and improve in that area.
- If it is the right work for you, you admire the top people in your field, the ones who are recognized as excellent, and you want to be around them and learn from them.
I will be the first to admit that I like my day job — but I don’t love it. It has provided us with a great life and I’m thankful for that; however, I find true fulfillment from running this blog. When I am writing, the clock disappears and everything else just fades to the background. I’m in the zone, locked in, and hyper focused. I dream of one day writing this blog full-time and it becoming my day job.
The authors also present the concept of the “clock test,” which is a way to tell if you are in the right job and contributing in the right place:
What does the clock mean to you? For people in the wrong jobs or those who don’t feel inspired by their work, the clock is a stern taskmaster. It tells them when they must start work, or resume working, and they can quit their work for the day. They resent the clock and often feel that the clock has stopped.
These people feel disengaged from their work and are easily distracted by a variety of factors. They arrive at the last minute and leave at the first change they get. Their job is not a source of fulfilment, and they do not feel satisfied at their work.
For people in the right jobs for them, the people who feel energized by their work, the clock is a competitor that they race against. The clock tells them how much time they have left before they will have to stop doing the work they enjoy. They are always trying to get more work done in the time allotted to them.
The clock test is very apparent at 5pm. Most workers punch the clock and go home as soon as possible, while a few stay behind hoping to finish important tasks and plan the next day to maximize productivity. Which worker are you?
I believe you will be the most successful when you are doing what you love with the majority of your time. This means finding a way to turn your passion into your day job. It might mean working on your passion as a side hustle until you can build up enough income to convert it to your day job — exactly my strategy with this blog.
Your purpose is the intersection of your talent, passion, and purpose. If you can find a way to turn your purpose into a day job that pays the bills, you will have laid the foundation for massive success.
How do you feel about your job? Does it provide the fulfillment you are looking for?