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A Job Worth Having

A Job Worth Having

Although people have obvious financial needs that are a large part of what makes them seek employment, the money side of work doesn’t go far in making a job feel like something worth doing. It won’t make up for a job that is frustrating, boring, inconsequential or just plain dull.

People want more from their work. They want to be able to meet some at least of their other needs: for good social contact, for a sense of achievement, a feeling they’re doing something worthwhile, the sense of belonging to an organization they can feel proud of — even a sense of self-worth and meaning in life.

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It’s a sad fact many people find themselves disappointed in this side of their working lives. Maybe they began a job with high hopes, but now feel let down. Perhaps the work hasn’t lived up to the promises they were made during the recruitment process. Maybe there’s been a change in management and the new style of doing things no longer provides the pleasure they used to get before.

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Here are some questions it’s worth pondering to help decide whether those all-important intangibles of corporate culture and working environment will match up to your needs. Whether you’re thinking of a new job, or wondering if what you have is still what you need, it’s worth taking a little time out to run through this simple checklist.

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  1. Is the organization a community where people share the task of producing something most of them truly believe in? Or is it a profit-obsessed, hard-driving labor-camp, where rewards are high because there’s really nothing else on offer?
  2. Can you see whether managers and leaders work through trust and respect? Many organizations are command-and-control cultures where there’s little or no trust given or expected. If you don’t trust others, that may not matter. If you do — and you want to be trusted in return — it will drive you crazy.
  3. If people talk about a “team environment,” check what this means. Does it mean people happily work together when they should, and apart when that is more appropriate? Or is it a crime to stand out in any way, and a hanging offense to express dissent or question the view of the ruling majority?
  4. Does work/life balance mean employees are allowed to find suitable ways to balance job and non-job demands? Are there options like home working, flexible hours, agreed absences for family needs? If you exercise these options, will you be marked down as “not committed?” Some organizations have schemes for time off when it’s needed — but heaven help you if you ever make use of them.
  5. How does the company assess performance? Do bosses get to know their staff and work with them to achieve the best they can offer? Or is it the dreaded annual appraisal — that pointless ritual where people are coldly judged and usually found wanting? Worst of all, do they say they’re “results-oriented” and mean that you either “make the numbers” or make your way out of the building as quietly as possible?
  6. How all-pervasive are corporate politics? You won’t find an organization with none — that’s too much to expect — but the impact of politics varies from about what you would expect in any group of people to something that strongly resembles Soviet Russia under Stalin. Academic jobs are typically the most political of all.
  7. What does “commitment” mean? Is it being involved, loyal and giving an honest day’s work in return for your pay? Or does it mean selling your body, mind and soul to the corporation and never questioning any demands it places on you?

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. Nor am I suggesting that you should seek a particular type of company to work for. One that would drive me insane might be exactly what suits you best. Even the most macho and demanding organizations have their admirers who wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. All that matters is that you should go into a job with your eyes and mind open, knowing what to expect and ready to work in that environment as happily as you can.

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Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on September 15, 2020

7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

Overcoming fear and making life changes is hard. It’s even harder when it’s a big change—breaking up with someone you love, leaving your old job, starting your own business, or hundreds of other difficult choices.

Even if it’s obvious that making a big change will be beneficial, it can be tough. Our mind wants to stay where it’s comfortable, which means doing the same things we’ve always done[1].

We worry: how do we know if we’re making the right decision? We wish we knew more. How do we make a decision without all of the necessary information?

We feel stuck. How do we get past fear and move forward with that thing we want to do?

Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 7 things to remember when you want to move forward and make positive life changes.

1. You’ll Never Have All the Information

We often avoid making important decisions because we want more information before we make a tough call.

Yes, it’s certainly true that you need to do your research, but if you’re waiting for the crystal clear answer to come to you, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. As humans, we are curious creatures, and our need for information can be paralyzing.

Life is a series of guesses, mistakes, and revisions. Make the best decision you can at the time and continue to move forward. This also means learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Here’s how.

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2. Have the Courage to Trust Yourself

We make all sorts of excuses for not making important life changes, but the limiting belief that often underlies many of them is that we don’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.

We think that if we get into a new situation, we won’t know what to do or how to react. We’re worried that the uncharted territory of the future will be too much for us to handle.

Give yourself more credit than that.

You’ve dealt with unexpected changes before, right? And when your car got a flat tire on the way to work, how did that end up? Or when you were unexpectedly dumped?

In the end, you were fine.

Humans are amazingly adaptable, and your whole life has been helping you develop skills to face unexpected challenges.

Have enough courage to trust yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.

3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Like jealousy, most of your fears are created in your own head.

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When you actually sit down and think about the worst case scenario, you’ll realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you realize the worst isn’t that bad, you’ll be ready to crush it.

When you’re preparing to make a big life change, write down all of the things you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Of looking silly? Of losing money? Of being unhappy?

Then, address each fear by writing down ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money, can you take a few months to save up a safety net?

4. It’s Just as Much About the Process as It Is About the Result

We’re so wrapped up in results when we think about major life changes. We worry that if we start out towards a big goal, then we might not make it to the finish line.

However, you’re allowed to change your mind. And failing will only help you learn what not to do next time.

Furthermore, just because you don’t reach the final goal doesn’t mean you failed. You chose the goal in the first place, but you’re allowed to alter it if you find that the goal isn’t working out the way you hoped. Failure is not a destination, and neither is success.

Enjoy the process of moving forward[2].

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5. Continue to Pursue Opportunity

If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then you might be worried about getting locked into a position that you can’t escape from.

Think about it a different way. New choices rarely limit your options.

In fact, new pursuits often open up even more opportunities. One of the best things about going after important goals with passion is that they open up chances and options that you never could have expected in the beginning.

If you pursue the interesting opportunities that arise along the path to your goal, then you can be sure that you’ll always have choices.

6. Effort Matters, So Use It

It sounds simple, but one of the big reasons we don’t make life changes is because we don’t try. And we don’t try because then it’s easy to make excuses for why we don’t get what we want.

Flunked that test? Are you stupid? “Of course I’m not stupid. I just didn’t study. I would have gotten an A if I actually studied.”

Stuck in a job you hate? Why haven’t you found a new job yet? “Well, I haven’t really tried to get a new job. I could totally ace that interview if I wanted.”

Why do we make excuses like these to ourselves? It’s because if we try and fail, then we just failed. But if we don’t try, we can chalk it up to laziness.

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Get over it. Failure happens to everyone.

And the funny thing is, if you actually try—because it’s pretty clear that most people aren’t trying—then you’ll win a lot more than you think.

7. Start With Something Manageable

You can’t climb Everest if you don’t try hiking beforehand.

Maybe applying for your dream job seems intimidating right now. What can you start with today?

Can you talk to someone who already has that position and see what they think makes them successful? Can you improve your skills so you meet one of the qualifications? Can you take a free online course to expand your resume?

Maybe you’re not quite ready for a long-term relationship, but you know you want to start dating. Could you try asking out a mutual friend? Can you go out more with friends to practice your communication skills and meet new people?

You don’t need to be a world changer today; you just need to make small life changes in your own world.

More Tips to Help You Make Life Changes

Featured photo credit: Victor Rodriguez via unsplash.com

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