Smart job hunters know that an effective career tends to be a matter of compromise. The problem is what to compromise in. Pick the wrong thing to sacrifice in your next job and you may be setting yourself up for years of unhappiness.
Follow these tips for finding what really matters to you about your career.
You can have it all — but it’s really unlikely
Those who are committed to the idea that they can “have it all” in their career are facing some mighty tall odds. It rarely happens. Oh sure, there are those movie-star type long shots that are doing what they love and making a lot of money doing it. But look deeper and you’ll see that they’ve paid their price too – just ask any of them how much privacy they get. Even they have made choices and endured sacrifices.
Ask what you really, really need
For that reason, it pays to ask yourself what you really need in your career. Make a list of the top ten criteria – profession, money, recognition, challenge, location, co-workers, job environment, convenience, working hours, and promotion potential – along with any others you can think of. Then rank them by number, top to bottom what matters most to you.
Ask yourself why
Next, ask yourself why it is exactly that you need those things. Don’t rush this step. The answers can be sneaky, with one thing often masquerading as another. For example, maybe you said you need $500,000 a year salary. Then you ask why, and you come to the conclusion it’s so you can buy an exotic car every year, which you say you need so you can feel important. But that’s really just another form of recognition, only disguised as salary.
Get input from a key stakeholder
This is the time to talk to the people who really matter in your life. Your spouse and perhaps your children can be deeply affected by the choices you make. Let them in on the process. You’re deciding on what sacrifices you’ll make for a particular job. And those people who are close to you could very well be the ones making the biggest sacrifices for those choices.
Make your cuts
Finally, now that you know the real motivation for what you need from your job and you have the opinion of the people who can be affected by your plans, you’re now ready to make the hard choices. Listing your key criteria out by rank, pick the three of the ten basic criteria that are absolute musts. Than pick three more that would be really nice to have. Then plan on letting the others go. Keep them on the list – you might actually find a position that incorporates all ten. And you certainly want to keep those criteria in mind. But just don’t count on them. Six out of ten is about as good as most jobs get.