I got a lot of feedback on my last
post Oops. The Crap IS the Job”,
including this true story which I
thought was great!
Once, when flying across some vast
expanse watching an especially beautiful
sunset [a business man who owned the
private plane] walked up behind
He said “is this what I pay you for, to sit back and relax in this $50M jet watching the sun set?” To which the grizzled captain said “no, you pay us to deal with all your bags, change your hotels, fix screwed up rental car reservations, deal with catering mis-cues, get the airplane fixed, vacuum all the dog hairs up, and crap like that. This part we do for free.
Work for money. Love things for free.
This is a topic I am working on for my upcoming book, but I wanted to start writing about it here, and get your thoughts.
This advice of do what you love and the money will follow, always seemed trite and not that useful to me. People were not offering me six figure salaries to go scuba diving or sit in a Piazza in Italy in the sunshine.
If you have found a way to do what you really love, and make enough money at it, Bravo! You are a rare exception – stop reading this and go enjoy your life!
But many people put tremendous pressure on themselves:
1. Because they don’t LOVE their work, they feel like they are selling out or living their life wrong, and waste a lot of time feeling unfulfilled and unhappy, or plagued by the feeling that they should be doing something “different”.
2. Others try to do the things they love full time, and end up struggling to make a living, not loving their life after all, and wasting time that they could be earning money.
Consider thinking about your work/life strategy like this.
- Do what you love for free
- Do things you don’t love for money
- Take control of your job description so you can feel good about, and at least “like” what you do for money
- Spend the money you make on doing the things you love.
I am for a middle ground.
I am not proposing that you sell your soul and hate your job just to make a lot of money.
I do believe, however, that you can make good money at a job that you don’t love, and tune your job description over time to play to your strengths and values so that you feel pretty good about doing it, and have some fun along the way.
How to Change Your Job Description without Sacrificing your Salary
Example: two different people who hate the same job.
You are a project manager in a technology company. You don’t really care personally about, or like the product/technology you are working on, and there’s lots of annoying stuff to deal with in your job. You feel unfulfilled, and on some days, really hate your job.
Imagine two different project managers in this same situation, with two different sets of gifts and dislikes. (Notice how the content of the business and the technology itself, don’t factor into either the problem or the solution.)
Person #1: You have a gift for analysis, and are a good writer. You do not like giving presentations or arguing with people. You hate your job because you have to deal with annoying people all the time.
Person #2: You have a gift for empathy and engaging and motivating people. You are not very detail oriented, and do not care to publish documents. You hate your job because you are stuck dealing with detailed project plans, and technology issues.
Tune your job to suit your strengths, and minimize your dislikes.
Person #1: Think about negotiating with your manager over time to take on a broader role to support all the project managers by improving the overall process, creating templates and workflows, managing data, etc. Build on your analysis and writing strengths, spend less time fighting dragons, and add real value to the business by creating infrastructure, process, and efficiencies.
Person #2: Ask for new projects that span organizations, need publicity, and have within them, more technical people and support you can rely on. Build on your people strengths, spend less time in the weeds, and help the business achieve significant outcomes on the biggest, messiest programs, that require lot’s of hand-holding and finesse with people.
Follow your Energy & Re-negotiate your contract.
Modifying your job doesn’t happen over night, it requires some effort and patience, but you don’t need to accept your job description as a life sentence either.
In fact, the best leaders don’t. They assess the future business needs and they tune the job for what it needs to be vs. accepting thier current job As-Is. (more on this BIG point in a future post.)
You have a contract with your company. As long as you are doing things that are good for the business, you have the opportunity to re-negotiate your contract over time — and you should be doing this. It helps you and your company.
What works for you?
So much of what I emphasize is understanding your strengths vs. your skills, and not getting too hung up on the content of the business.
If you play to your core strengths you will be much more successful (because you are leveraging your strengths), feel far more satisfied in your work (because you are leveraging your strengths), make more money, and have the resources and the energy to travel, ski, eat out, by shoes, see shows, boat, drink good wine – whatever it is you love!
Make Trade-offs On Purpose
I’m a big believer of making thoughtful tradeoffs on purpose, so you feel like you are in control of your life. The goal is to find what works for you. It’s not about balance. At some points in your life there are reasons prioritize work, and at other points, not.
The important thing is to make tradeoffs, on purpose. That way even if you are not loving every minute of what you are doing for work, you can create the ability to DO, fund, and make time for the things you do for love.
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