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Last Updated on September 3, 2020

Pick Your Job Based On What You Love To Do, Not How Much You Have Invested In.

Pick Your Job Based On What You Love To Do, Not How Much You Have Invested In.

Have you ever continued to pursue something even though it no longer served you? Maybe it’s a degree program or the dead-end job that you refuse to give up. Perhaps you’ve stayed in a relationship for no other reason than the fact that you’ve been committed to it for so long. From time to time, we all justify staying the course by considering the effort we’ve put into our current situation.

Many of us decide to take a job just because it’s a good use of our training. When we invest time and money in getting a degree, we expect that we should use it. Maybe you hate your job, but you can only envision yourself taking similar positions with equal or greater pay and responsibility. You may feel trapped by the decisions you made before, but you don’t have to be.

Whatever you do, do it because you love it.

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    When you are trying to figure out how to decide on a career, it is easy to be influenced by the types of work and training you’ve already undertaken. In general, you get a degree or training in a field that interests you, and this leads you to a job in that field.

    If you should ever decide to leave your job, there’s a high probability that you will look for work in the same field with similar pay and responsibilities. You are less likely to consider whether you still like the work that you do — you feel obligated to continue your career trajectory regardless of how you feel.

    This is how people get stuck doing jobs that they don’t like. Instead of thinking about what would make you the best and happiest version of yourself, you may face temptation to maintain the status quo. Many of us do this because we fear wasting our efforts.[1]

    Others feel that their persistence will eventually be valued, and changing course doesn’t fit well within the story they are creating about themselves or their business.[2] They may willingly take on sunk costs with the belief that their situation will improve.

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    Don’t get sucked in by sunk costs.

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      The sunk cost fallacy is the assumption that you must continue follow a trajectory because you have already put lots of resources into that particular career path or personal endeavor. We can be so loss-averse that we avoid the possibility of greater gains through changing our approach.[3]

      If you are wondering how to decide on a career, and you take a job solely because it makes use of your years of training, then you might be worrying more about sunk costs than your future happiness and success. Refusing to leave a career that is unfulfilling could be a sign that you are caught in the job investment trap, which is a variation of the sunk cost fallacy.[4]

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      Businesses also fall into this pattern of continuing down a failing path just because they already put time and money into initiatives. For example, an entrepreneur might take out a loan to open a second business location. They reason that since business is booming at Location #1, success in Location #2 should be a cinch.

      After about a year, the owner realizes that Location #2 is hemorrhaging money, and the only way to stop the bleeding is to scale back to one store. The numbers don’t lie, but despite the irrefutable evidence, the owner may still have trouble cutting his or her losses. The business owner thinks about the effort, time, and emotion that went into Location #2.

      From an outsider’s perspective, it is easy to see that the business owner in the example or the person stuck in an uninspiring career should try something new. It is harder to let go of sunk costs when we are faced with them ourselves.

      You aren’t a one-trick pony.

      Just because you took a particular course of study in school doesn’t mean that you are bound to that discipline for the rest of your life. When you are figuring out how to decide on a career, ask yourself the following questions:

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      • What are you interested in doing? If you are passionate about your work, then it won’t feel like a burden.
      • What skills do you need to do this job? We often think of our degree or primary training as our default career option, but the default may not be the best choice. If you need to change focus, what transferable skills do you have, and what additional training will you need to be successful?[5]
      • Is there room for growth in this job? Today, the average employee stays with a company for 4.2 years before moving on.[6] What types of skills can you build in your current work? How can you leverage your growth to position you for a fulfilling career?
      • Do you have opportunities to work with different people? Forming meaningful connections with people is one of the best things you can do for yourself professionally. You’ll not only be happier at work, but if you decide to change careers, you will already have a solid professional network. [7]
      • What can this job offer you in 3 years? Consider your expectations for income and authority-level in the next three years. Is this job going to give you what you want? If not, how will taking this position help you work toward your end goal?
      • Can this job help you to become the kind of person you want to be? Being inspired by the work that you do can brighten even the toughest days. Do you feel that your work is meaningful?[8] Does it bring you closer to being the optimal of yourself?

      Know when to hold and when to fold.

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        You can’t recover sunk costs, but you don’t have to perpetuate a cycle of loss. “I’ve already put so much time into this,” isn’t a good enough justification to continue down a particular path.

        Deciding to change directions doesn’t meant that you have failed. It makes zero sense to continue to put resources into something that isn’t working for you. Although you may feel like you have wasted an experience or lost time, remember that you have probably learned some valuable information as you undertook the process. Just because it didn’t go the way you expected doesn’t mean that it’s a total loss.

        Being successful and following your dreams are not mutually exclusive. Use what you know to keep growing, and don’t be discouraged if you have to change course along the way.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Angelina Phebus

        Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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        Last Updated on November 26, 2020

        How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

        How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

        As playwright Wilson Mizner supposedly said all the way back in the 1930s,

        “Be kind to everyone on the way up; you will meet the same people on the way down.”

        The adage is the perfect prototype for relationship building in 2020, although we may want to expand Mizner’s definition of “kind” to include being helpful, respectful, grateful, and above all, crediting your colleagues along the way.

        5 Ways to Switch on Your Relationship Building Magnetism

        Relationship building does not come easily to all. Today’s computer culture makes us more insular and less likely to reach out—not to mention our new work-from-home situation in which we are only able to interact virtually. Still, relationship building remains an important part of career engagement and success, and it gets better with practice.

        Here are five ways you can strengthen your relationships:

        1. Advocate for Other’s Ideas

        Take the initiative to speak up in support of other team members’ good ideas. Doing so lets others know that the team’s success takes precedence over your needs for personal success. Get behind any colleague’s innovative approach or clever solution and offer whatever help you can give to see it through. Teammates will value your vote of confidence and your support.

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        2. Show Compassion

        If you learn that someone whom you work with has encountered difficult times, reach out. If it’s not someone you know well, a hand-written card expressing your sympathy and hopes for better times ahead could be an initial gesture. If it’s someone with whom you interact regularly, the act could involve offering to take on some of the person’s work to provide a needed reprieve or even bringing in a home-cooked dish as a way to offer comfort. The show of compassion will not go unnoticed, and your relationship building will have found a foothold.

        3. Communicate Regularly

        Make an effort to share any information with team members that will help them do their jobs more effectively. Keeping people in the loop says a lot about your consideration for what others need to deliver their best results.

        Try to discover the preferred mode of communication for each team member. Some people are fine relying on emails; others like to have a phone conversation. And once we can finally return to working together in offices, you may determine that face-to-face updates may be most advantageous for some members.

        4. Ask for Feedback

        Showing your willingness to reach out for advice and guidance will make a positive impression on your boss. When you make it clear that you welcome and can accept pointers, you display candor and trust in what opinions your superior has to offer. Your proclivity towards considering ways of improving your performance and strengthening any working interactions will signal your strong relationship skills.

        If you are in a work environment where you are asked to give feedback, be generous and compassionate. That does not mean being wishy-washy. Try always to give the type of feedback that you wouldn’t mind receiving.

        5. Give Credit Where It’s Due

        Be the worker who remembers to credit staffers with their contributions. It’s a surprisingly rare talent to credit others, but when you do so, they will remember to credit you, and the collective credit your team will accrue will be well worth the effort.

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        How Does Relationship Building Build Careers?

        Once you have strengthened and deepened your relationships, here are some of the great benefits:

        Work Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Work

        According to a Gallup poll, when you have a best friend at work, you are more likely to feel engaged with your job. Work is more fun when you have positive, productive relationships with your colleagues. Instead of spending time and energy overcoming difficult personalities, you can spend time enjoying the camaraderie with colleagues as you work congenially on projects together. When your coworkers are your friends, time goes by quickly and challenges don’t weigh as heavily.

        You Can Find Good Help

        It’s easier to ask for assistance when you have a good working relationship with a colleague. And with office tasks changing at the speed of technology, chances are that you are going to need some help acclimating—especially now that work has gone remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

        Much of relationship building rests on your genuine expressions of appreciation toward others. Showing gratitude for another’s help or for their willingness to put in the extra effort will let them know you value them.

        Mentors Come Out of the Woodwork

        Mentors are proven to advance your professional and career development. A mentor can help you navigate how to approach your work and keep you apprised of industry trends. They have a plethora of experience to draw from that can be invaluable when advising you on achieving career success and advancement.

        Mentors flock to those who are skilled at relationship building. So, work on your relationships and keep your eyes peeled for a worthy mentor.

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        You Pull Together as a Team

        Great teamwork starts with having an “abundance mentality” rather than a scarcity mentality. Too often, workers view all projects through a scarcity mentality lens. This leads to office strife as coworkers compete for their piece of the pie. But in an abundance mentality mode, you focus on the strengths that others bring rather than the possibility that they are potential competitors.

        Instead, you can commit relationship building efforts to ensure a positive work environment rather than an adversarial one. When you let others know that you intend to support their efforts and contribute to their success, they will respond in kind. Go, team!

        Your Network Expands and So Does Your Paycheck

        Expand your relationship building scope beyond your coworkers to include customers, suppliers, and other industry stakeholders. Your extra efforts can lead to extra sales, a more rewarding career, and even speedy professional advancement. And don’t overlook the importance of building warm relationships with assistants, receptionists, or even interns.

        Take care to build bridges, not just to your boss and your boss’s boss but with those that work under you as well. You may find that someone who you wouldn’t expect will put in a good word for you with your supervisor.

        Building and maintaining good working relationships with everyone you come in contact with can pay off in unforeseen ways. You never know when that underling will turn out to be the company’s “golden child.” Six years from now you may be turning to them for a job. If you have built up a good, trusting work relationship with others along your way, you will more likely be considered for positions that any of these people may be looking to fill.

        Your Job Won’t Stress You Out

        Study shows that some 83 percent of American workers experience work-related stress.[1] Granted, some of that stress is now likely caused by the new pandemic-triggered workplace adjustments, yet bosses and management, in general, are reportedly the predominant source of stress for more than one-third of workers.

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        Having meaningful connections among coworkers is the best way to make work less stressful. Whether it is having others whom to commiserate with, bounce ideas off, or bring out your best performance, friendships strengthen the group’s esprit de corps and lower the stress level of your job.

        Your Career Shines Bright

        Who would you feel better about approaching to provide a recommendation or ask for promotion: a cold, aloof boss with whom you have only an impersonal relationship or one that knows you as a person and with whom you have built a warm, trusting relationship?

        Your career advancement will always excel when you have a mutual bond of friendship and appreciation with those who can recommend you. Consider the plug you could receive from a supervisor who knows you as a friend versus one who remains detached and only notices you in terms of your ability to meet deadlines or attain goals.

        When people fully know your skills, strengths, personality, and aspirations, you have promoters who will sing your praises with any opportunity for advancement.

        Final Thoughts

        At the end of the day, it is “who you know” not “what you know.” When you build relationships, you build a pipeline of colleagues, work partners, team members, current bosses, and former bosses who want to help you—who want to see you succeed.

        At its core, every business is a people business. Making a point to take the small but meaningful actions that build the foundation of a good relationship can be instrumental in cultivating better relationships at work.

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        Featured photo credit: Adam Winger via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] The American Institute of Stress: 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics

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