I’ve shared the missives of Mark Ford, founder, The Palm Beach Research Group with Selling Point readers several times in the past, and am doing it again today. I totally identify with his topic and bet many of you will, as well. Like Mark, I too spent my first 30 years of employment holding a job, but fortunately transitioned to a career for the past 15 years, and couldn’t feel more fulfilled and happy in the vocational part of my life.
Here’s Mark’s post:
Most people have jobs. They faithfully go to work each morning, do their best to execute their duties, come home tired, and look forward to weekends and vacations.
They do this to make ends meet, hoping something better will come along. And better things do come now and then, along with setbacks. But the drudgery continues. Week in. Week out. Forty years pass. Life has been half miserable. But it’s time for retirement.
Retirement means getting out of job jail. No more hated work. It’s now time for relaxation and fun… Just kidding!
As it turns out, retirement today is this: After giving up a fairly well-paid full-time job, you take on several poorly paid part-time jobs (without benefits) to pay for your ever-increasing retirement expenses.
But it doesn’t have to be that way…
You can spare yourself the misery by ditching the job early on and replacing it with a career.
What’s the difference? A career is a life’s vocation…
You work a job to make money. You work a career to build something you value.
With a job, you are always thinking about the time you won’t be working. With a career, you are always thinking about it even when you aren’t working.
————–HEADS UP, Managers and Owners—————
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The reason for this is a matter of focus. A job looks inward: “I do this to make money for myself.” A career looks outward: “I am building something that others can appreciate or use.”
The litmus test for determining whether you have a job or a career is this question: If you could afford to, would you do it for free?
You shouldn’t work for money. You should work on having a career.
If you don’t like your work but are doing it because you have to support yourself and/or a family, start working on a Plan B. Plan B is titled: “Doing Something I Care About.”
Measured in mundane, day-to-day terms, having a career can be challenging since you are constantly focused on the work, and the work sometimes does not go as well as you might want. But even when the work is frustrating, it involves you in a way that is somehow satisfying. And when the work goes well, there’s nothing like it.
If you have a job now, can you transform it into a career? Well, it may depend on what you are doing.
I have worked as a writer and editor for about 40 years. For more than half that time, writing was a job for me. I did it to make money. I worked hard at it, did it well, and did make a lot of money, which was great. But I never really enjoyed the “job.”
That changed when I turned 50. I changed my priorities. Making money wasn’t even on the list.
I began writing about topics I valued, like art collecting, language, and literature. I was also writing movie scripts, short stories, and poems.
Before, the “purpose” of the writing I had been doing was to sell products and services and thereby make a lot of money. After, the purpose of my writing was to teach readers what I had learned about making money. It was the same topic, but the intention was different. It had moved from me (inward) to them (outward).
So that is the first and main thing. But there are requirements for your work to be a career:
- The work should be challenging. It should require the best of you – your intelligence, your intuition, your stamina, and your care. Ideally, it should require both knowledge and skill and thus give you the opportunity to learn and improve forever.
- It should produce things or provide services that are enjoyable and/or useful to other people. This adds a social component to the experience.
- It should be accretive. That is, the value of the goods or services you produce should increase as your career continues. (For example, I feel like the writing I’ve done on entrepreneurship, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts.)
Not everyone can make a career out of his or her job. An architect certainly could. Instead of designing commercial crap for the highest bidder, she could gradually develop her own style, one that she likes and that would serve people, and she could produce work over her lifetime that would endure for generations.
Think about it. Start creating your Plan B. Satisfaction comes from doing something you care about. And if you can make money for 40 years doing something you care about and creating something that has value to others – you have a career! Regards, Mark Ford
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