There was a time many years ago when, more than anything, I wanted a job that would give me “most evenings and weekends off.” That, I told myself, would be my perfect job!
At the time, I was reaping the rewards of some ill-informed choices I had made early in my life. I was working multiple jobs. All hours. I was hardly making any money. The future seemed bleak.
Fast-forward to today. I have a fantastic position with an excellent organization. And yes, I do get most evenings and weekends off!
Better yet, I have a wife, son, and two dogs in our house in Granite Bay, CA, making it incredibly meaningful.
The roadmap from there to here was simple. Just reference this popular and apt illustration of “what success looks like.”
How I got there
My first “professional” job – I learned later – was obtained because the Japanese-born manager confused “Harbor College” with “Harvard College.” He thought he was making a terrific Ivy League hire. He was not.
He did make a great hire, only from UCSB, not Harvard.
This story illustrates that dumb luck can be a huge unplanned factor in one’s career path (the squiggly line in the illustration).
Because luck is not a reliable and repeatable strategy for success I developed a better plan for career success by focusing on these three activities.
Three Steps to the Perfect Job
- Showing up. Showing up daily with a great attitude and a singular focus on successfully doing your job (not bringing personal business or unproductive approach to work) is simple but not easy. It all starts here. Get in the game by showing up every day, maybe even a little early, and be ready to play. Have your game face on. Start with the job/role/company you are in today. There is no telling where a reliable and consistent performer can go.
- Focus on the quality of your work. High-quality work almost always trumps everything else. You will do more for your career by doing a great job – regardless of what it is. Great work will not only impress your employer, but it will also make you feel good about yourself knowing you have achieved “a job well done!”
- Maintain perspective. Work is important. It makes possible so much of what we value in life. Work, however, is not the only thing. It would be best if you also were happy. Happiness often comes from labor and the broader tapestry of life, including family, friends, health, travel, hobbies, and accomplishments. Having the proper perspective on where your job fits into this rubric can change the job game from misery to gratitude. Remember, the appropriate mindset can change everything without changing a thing.
A Few Other Thoughts
I have also learned that sleep, exercise, and better nutrition are in the purview of what I can control. If I am rested and fit, not only do I feel better, but I tend to perform at a higher level. Plus, when I’m doing well at work, I feel better about myself, and as a result, I’m easier to work with. Double winner!
It turns out that the first job I got through dumb luck was a perfect one for me. Mainly because once I got that job, I learned to show up, do good work, and develop a good attitude. That focus provided the fuel I needed to persevere through the inevitable shortcomings that any job or role presents. Best of all, the perspective I gained carried over to all my other jobs.
In conclusion, while dumb luck helps, it isn’t sustainable for a great career. A better strategy is to show up every workday with a great attitude focusing on doing the best work you can in whatever role you find yourself in. Over time the “perfect” job will sort itself out automatically as the job you’re in will be the perfect one. That’s the squiggly line to success.
And guess what, if you’re lucky, you won’t have to work most evenings and weekends!