A high quality career will shape your entire life. A low quality job will leave you stagnating for years, maybe even your entire life.
Your career is critical to your success.
The better your career, the better your life.
Some of the worst aspects about bad jobs include set routines that never vary, no paid leave time, excessive hours, your boss thinks he owns you, unfriendly co-workers, boring work and fear. Fear of management. Fear of being laid off. Fear of losing your skills. Fear of never getting ahead.
If you can avoid these types of situations, you will enjoy your work life.
Let's contrast the worst qualities of a bad job with the elements of a great career.
4 main components of your career
Let's break these down.
If you are good at your job and you like doing it you will not dread going to work.
It should be intense and challenging.
From Danger and Play
My favorite quote from that excellent article -
Choose a trade or profession where the work builds on the other work.
Sales, medicine, law, engineering, craftsmanship, and trades like plumbing and electricity allow for continued growth in knowledge and skills. What you learn today builds on your mistakes and successes of yesterday, and what you learn tomorrow will build on today’s victories and defeats.
My career is Civil Engineering. Much of the work is challenging and intense. But there is tremendous satisfaction in solving problems. This type of work is continuously creative. Drawing, calculating, writing, discussing, meetings, calls, emails and deep thinking.
It can be quite good.
It can also have a good share of tedium to be aware of and minimize.
Since the things that civil engineers design and build are very expensive, it is driven by economics. It there is no money or credit to build things(like highways, bridges, buildings, utilities, land developments, water and wastewater treatment plants) , those things, even if they are sorely needed, do not get designed and built and civil engineers suffer.
Along with everyone else who needs these things for a better quality of life.
I certainly suffered during the depression of 2008 and through 2012.
The kinds of projects I worked on from 990 through 2007 were in extremely limited demand. Almost non-existent demand. So I was laid off a number of times during these years. Being laid off is not that great. No money and constant anxiety. It is difficult to look for work, because you are laid off because there is no work.
I spent a lot of time trying to determine how much less I could live on.
It turns out I can live on little, which is a good skill to have.
Plus, in learning to live on little, I have learned other even more creative ways to live for less in the future.
People are professional
They don't have to be actual professionals. But they have to act professionally. Good behavior. Politeness. No aggressive or boorish behavior.
A very minimal amount of childish, spoiled teenager like behavior.
It does not have to be high society, but it should be high class.
I have worked in jobs with high drama. Some have been filled with back biting and politics. Some of my co-workers were like children, sniping at each other.
It was very uncomfortable for me.
When you have co-workers, you always have to expect that it can be a little touchy at times. It's better if what you do is not being done by too many others. You want to be that person, not another person doing a similar thing.
If you are good at your work, you should be well respected. Even if you are not good yet, still learning, people being respectful toward you feels good.
Some jobs, what you do is seen as a commodity that others expect you to do for very little pay and even less respect.
It seems to help if where you are working is a large enough organization that because of it's size and number of people, it can garner respect. You can all share in a mutual respect of each other.
In smaller work settings, everyone seems to be overworked with very little time for politeness.
Meetings can be an exciting part of the work day. If they are engaging. If productive work is accomplished. If information is shared.
They can also waste enormous amounts of time and cause needless frustration.
I like going to meetings. I take a few notes. I get engaged. I listen intently. And I speak up when appropriate.
Happier income level
I have written about this subject before - Happier Income Level.
When you make this much money, your life can become quite smooth. You will start to rise above the constant daily struggle with money. I know I have. Money is not that big of a deal anymore. My day to day life is easy.
I have moved past lack and into abundance. I don't feel the constant frustration of having to wait to buy something I really need.
Larger items and experiences still take a bit of planning and budgeting, but they are on my horizon.
Everything I want I can see myself getting when the time is right.Meaningful health insurance
We all need decent health insurance. The kind that where you pay a hefty amount a month, every month for years on end and then when you need it, they pay.
Some places offer the opposite.
You pay a lot of money every month, and then when you need some medical attention, you receive a huge bill after you recover.
Meaningful, means good insurance, where you don't have to worry about multiple thousands of dollars of medical bills.
This is especially critical if you have other people to care for. Your life as a dad will suck if you cannot afford to take care of your children.
I count 9 major holidays in the US. You should enjoy the holidays off with everyone else.
Some places like to skimp on the holiday pay and time.
No one gets any work done on holidays anyway. It is just a collective deep break.
I would like to see more holidays.
Sick leave may be one of the most important benefits. But it sometimes goes forgotten. I had a job where we had no sick leave, just vacation. So I did not get sick.
I just worked sick. Plus I saved my vacation until the end of the year, in case I needed it if I became sick. I did not have medical or dental appointments either.
My health suffered, certainly.
Now I work in a place with good sick leave benefits. I go to the dentist. I go to the doctor. I stay home if I am ill.
I don't like to be sick. So I take care of myself. But I still get sick a day or two each year.
From Of Two Minds
Here are some of the main elements of the structure of the work in a high quality career.
Some workplaces are still a holdover of the bad old days. Where employees are treated like children. Or worse, with derision or contempt.
We all should be free to come and go as we need to, doing our work, taking care of our other responsibilities, enjoying our lives.
We all should be happy to go to work, do our thing, get our work done without our supervisors and managers hovering over our shoulders.
We all should be engaged in our day to day work, doing our best, working independently, but then coming together with others to make the best decisions and finalize things.
And we should be free of the excessive work hours that trapped older generations in a never ending cycle of work with no time for other things.
Working too many hours of the day or week will ruin most people. The only way you can work a lot of hours in the week is if you have someone else take care of all the other little tasks and errands that need to be done too. Most of you do not make enough money to afford a cleaning service, chauffeur, chef and errand runner.
Or to pay someone to relax for you, exercise for you, play for you or think for you.
If you make enough to pay others to take care of these items, and you still have enough to pay for a great quality of life for you...you have no need for this article.
You have a high quality career already.
It is simpler to just work less and take care of your essential tasks yourself.
I am writing this as I am deciding whether to apply for a higher position in my organization.
I am tempted, but I have opted to not. I have a high quality career already. I am doing work that I love to do and am very good at and getting better.
I have reached where I want to be.
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