The very worst use of time is to stay at a job for months and years for which you are completely unsuited.
There are a great number of people who spend their whole lives doing something they don’t enjoy during the week, always looking forward to the weekends. They refer to Monday as “Blue Monday” and to Wednesday as “Hump Day.” At the end of the week, they say “Thank God It’s Friday!”
These are men and women with very little in the way of a future. They look upon their jobs as a form of drudgery, a penance they have to pay in order to enjoy their free time. And because of this attitude, they will seldom advance or be promoted.
They will stay pretty much where they are, moving from job to job, and always wondering why other people seem to be living the good life while they feel like they are living a life of quiet desperation.
At my seminars, I am frequently asked by people what they can do to be more successful. In almost every case, they are working in jobs they don’t like, for bosses they don’t particularly respect, producing or selling products or services for customers they don’t care about. And many of them think that if they just hang in there long enough, the clouds will part and everything will get better for them.
But the fact is that you are where you are and what you are because that’s what you have chosen. You can do amazing things with your life, but nobody else can change your situation for you. It’s entirely up to you.
The economic function of your company is to hire people at the very lowest cost so that they can serve customers at the very lowest cost in a competitive market. For this reason, no one has any obligation to pay you any more than you are getting. If possible, they would like to pay you less.
One thing I tell people over and over again is that they must become very good at doing what they are doing if they want to move up in their company. And if they don’t have the inner desire to be very good at their job, it means they are probably in the wrong one.
Excellence is like a ladder, and excellent performance at your current job is like the rungs on the ladder. In order for you to progress, you must become extremely good at what you are doing right now. Once you have mastered your current job, you will automatically move up to more difficult, more interesting, and higher-paid jobs.
Too many people do their jobs in an average or mediocre fashion, with the idea that, when the right job comes along, then they will really do a good job. But for some reason, the right job never comes along. They are always passed over for promotions and advancement. They are always the last ones hired and the first ones laid off.
So be perfectly honest with yourself. Look deep inside and decide what it is you would like to do if you only had six months left to live. What would you choose to do if you won a million dollars in the lottery tomorrow? What sort of work would you do if you were absolutely guaranteed of success in any one field? If you had no limits on your abilities and opportunities – no debts, no problems, no commitments – what would be your ideal job or career?
Research shows that the things people liked to do best between the ages of 7 and 14 were a very good indicator of what they would be most successful at as adults.
A man at one of my seminars told me that when he was between the ages of 7 and 14 he loved to build model airplanes. He built more and more complicated planes, and then built them with engines and flew them in contests.
Today, he is 35 years old. He has a degree in aeronautical engineering. He designs small aircraft. In addition, he owns an aircraft maintenance company and an air charter firm. He is a multi-millionaire, and he feels like he has never worked a day in his life. He has always done what he loved to do and most enjoyed from the time he was a little boy.
If you’re not sure about your true calling, ask the people closest to you. Ask them, “What do you think I would be the very best at doing with my life?” It is amazing how people around you – including your spouse, your best friends, and your parents – can see clearly what you should be doing when often you cannot see it yourself.
Project yourself forward five years, and imagine that your entire life is perfect in every respect. Imagine that you are doing exactly the right job for you, in exactly the right place, with exactly the right people, and earning exactly the amount you want to earn.
What would that look like? Where would you be, and what would you be doing? Who would you be with, and how would you have changed?
When you have that picture in your head, think about the steps you would have to take to get from where you are today to where you want to be in five years. What skills would you have to develop? What information would you have to acquire? What obstacles would you have to overcome?
Success comes from being excellent at what you do. The market pays excellent rewards only for excellent performance. It pays average rewards for average performance, and below-average rewards for below-average performance.
But excellence is a journey, not a destination. You never quite get there. You can never relax. The market is always changing, so what constitutes excellence today will be different tomorrow and very different next year and every year thereafter.
All really successful and happy people know in their hearts that they are very good at what they do. And if you are doing what you really love and enjoy, if you are following your true calling, you will know it too.