Career Success in 3 Easy Steps

The job market is cutthroat these days.  In a recent article it was reported that the job loss numbers in my industry, Oil & Gas, has topped 430,000 worldwide since the start of the downturn in 2014.  This has led to an oversupply of qualified candidates fighting for the few remaining positions.

And no matter what job market you are in, not only are you expected to be good at your job, you are expected to enjoy it.  That famous advice bandied about by Steve Jobs that has now become accepted practice is to follow your passion.  There is a notion that if you really, really like something, then if you do that you’ll become successful.

But what if there was another way?

Nobody enjoys every little aspect of their work.  However, I believe that one can develop a passion for their work (which is what happened with Steve Jobs by the way.  His initial passion was for philosophy…).  Many (most?) of us end up where we are through a seemingly random sequence of events, that eventually lead us directly to where we need to be.

It is for this reason that I feel people should stay the course they are on, when faced with a change.  It feels easier to jump to the next shiny thing, but you’ve already started down a path and likely have a significant amount of time invested in it.  Better to focus your energy excelling at what you have already spent time learning than to keep jumping around, always defaulting to beginner status.

The only exception to this is when the job is the sideline, and the person is working to support something they truly care about that they do in their off time.  But I’ve rarely met such a person.  And that person is definitely not somebody who spent four years and countless dollars taking a degree (in a field they were once passionate about?) in order to work retail and party on the weekends.

80k Hours

I’ve been reading a book recently (in addition to my 12 months reading program) called 80,000 Hours – Find a Fulfilling Career That Does Good, by Benjamin Todd.  The premise is that we all have approximately 80k hours of professional work within us (40hrs/wk for 50 weeks / year, x 40 years….) so we should choose work that is satisfying and valuable, in order to make the greatest contribution.  And fortunately, the authors lay out the six, heavily researched, requirements for meeting that goal:

  1. Do work you are good at
  2. Do work that helps others
  3. Engaging work that lets you enter a flow state
  4. Supportive colleagues
  5. No major negatives (long hours, unfair pay)
  6. Work that fits your personal life

If you are floundering in your career maybe everything is working except for one of these.  Perhaps a change of office is in order.  Or perhaps you can reframe your dissatisfaction in order to view it through a different lens.  It is certainly worth some introspection before throwing it all away and jumping ship.

The 3 Steps

How to we grow and excel in the workplace?  Why do some people seem to effortlessly rise through the ranks, while others stagnate?  Is there a better way than just punching the clock day in and day out? (Spoiler – there is!)

You need a purpose that drives your day to day actions if you want to go places.  This is a simple roadmap to help you on your way.  But be warned; just because it is simple, does not mean it easy.

The 3 Step Plan

Step 1 – Define success.  Figure out what the top performers in your field are doing.  Determine what Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) you should be focusing on.

Step 2 – Clear the path.  What day to day activities are you doing that robs you of time to do the things that matter?  Free yourself up to be able to focus on your personal KPI’s but automating and simplifying your day.

Step 3 – Do the work that matters.  With your day to day administration tasks automated you can now work on those projects that provide the greatest ROI.

More to Come

Each of these ideas will be examined separately over the next three weeks.  I’m working through these steps myself this month to help make some major advances in productivity this year, so this isn’t just a mental exercise.

Do you find your work fulfilling and do you know exactly what to focus on to ensure career success?

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