The philosophy underlying OnTarget can be summarized as follows.
Most people want more out of their jobs and careers, but they’re not sure what “more” means, let alone how to get it. They haven’t yet realized that the solution lies in rethinking some fundamental assumptions about career success and career management. They cling to traditional definitions of career success (more money, more responsibility, more power), but are often left unfulfilled and wanting even more. They try traditional career planning, but for most people, long term career planning doesn’t work. To get more out of your career, think more deeply about what “more” really means to you, and explore new definitions of career success. Decide what you want, and replace long-term career planning with finding good jobs. Then build your career one good job at a time.
This begs the question – what exactly is a good job?
Here’s my current thinking. A good job is one that:
- Meets your economic needs. Most people have a compensation threshold beyond which salary is relatively unimportant. But you have to have a job that meets your minimal economics needs.
- Meets your personal needs. You also need to have your personal needs met. For many, this means flexibility and a tolerable culture. Like compensation, culture is more of a threshold variable. You don’t need a perfect culture, but you don’t want a toxic culture of fear or one comprised of people you don’t respect. Personal needs also pertain to integrating and balancing your career with other aspects of yourself (like personal, social, family, community, and health).
- Provides you with engagement. You should enjoy what you do on a daily basis. Not all the time, and not every day. But most of the time on most of the days you should actually enjoy your daily activities. One way to get a better sense of your daily activities is to use the 3 buckets exercise. If you enjoy what you do, chances are you’re good at it. Lack of engagement leads to burnout, and work becomes grind.
- Provides you with learning and growth opportunities. There is a fine line here. Too much challenge can lead to frustration and overwhelm. Not enough challenge can lead to boredom and stagnation. I see a lot of successful people who are well into their careers that have stopped learning. They’re really good at what they do, but they’re no longer being challenged (at least not much). They’re successful, and they’re bored. You need an environment that allows you to get really good at something (mastery) by stretching your capabilities just enough.
- Provides you with a sense of contribution. How excited are you about your company’s mission? You don’t have to be curing cancer or eliminating hunger, but what your company does should be meaningful to you in some way. Not having a sense of contribution can impact long-term motivation.
That’s it. Just five things. I’m sure there are a gazillion other things, but these five capture the essence.
Think about your current job in the context of the five dimensions above. How do you rank each dimension? Do you see how each dimension contributes to the whole? Overall, how would you rank the “goodness” of your current job? What dimensions are absent that you hope to include in your next job?
Or think about good and bad jobs you’ve had in the past. What made them good? What made them bad?