The Principles Find Fulfilling Work
These are the ideas I believe that have led me to not only more fulfilling work, but also a fulfilling life.
These principles are what I believe are important things to understanding while trying to find your path or make a decision. I felt that this was important to write because a lot of online advice is either haphazard or just too specific to be applicable.
These principles both communicate to my readers how to approach my content, and keeps me true to these ideas.
Beware Catch-all Advice
There’s a lot of online advice telling you what to do. Start a business! Quit your job! Travel the world!
There are two things you always have to take into account.
The first is your needs. In this current phase of your life, what's most important to you? Is it a steady income? Gaining experience? A big life-change? Your health, your personal relationship? Or small steps toward a better career? There are no wrong answers.
Depending on what you need, quitting your job and starting a business or going back to school full-time might not be in the cards. Or if money isn’t a huge factor at the moment, maybe you can take time to learn and explore. Or if you need full-time work, freelancing isn’t the way to go. It all depends.
The second thing to take into account is your nature. Are you risk-averse? Are there certain things you know you like and don’t like? If you know you don’t enjoy working in the business world and I advise you to join a start-up company, you can ignore my advice. If you’re someone who prefers to focus on one thing at a time but someone is telling you to “try everything”, it’s probably best to pass on their conviction. If people are saying you should start a YouTube channel, but you’re a writer a heart, then maybe a blog works better for you.
Always consider this and don’t feel like you need to follow anyone else’s motivational advice. Your takeaway question should be “What are my needs, desires, and nature, and does this advice align with those?"
Have a Long-term View
When we want a change, we often want it RIGHT NOW. I'm all for having a strong desire and motive to change, but oftentimes this causes a rushed feeling and anxiety. And one little slip up can cause us to quit completely (I’ve done this often). That being said, if you are truly driven and obsessed,
The goal is to be in a better situation 3, 6, 12, or 24 months from now. This long-term view will allow you to slowly but surely build a better life. And when you make a mistake, experience a roadblock, or just have an unproductive day, you won’t be demoralized.
Choose a timeframe that best fits your goals and be realistic. If you have a lot going on in your personal life, it might take you longer than someone who has a lot of free time. For example, most people make the mistake of trying to update their resume all in one day. This is fine if your resume is mostly up to date, but most people haven’t dusted off their resume in years, which means there’s a lot of work to do.
"People overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and underestimate what they can achieve in three years." The same is true for what we think we can achieve in a day versus a week or a month.
Updating your resume, deciding what course you want to take, or setting goals can take a couple weeks. This is perfectly fine. The next couple weeks will pass no matter what you do.
Focus on Incremental Improvement
If you consistently take action (which could be one thing a week), in three years you’ll have a completely different life. And again, the next three years are going to pass no matter what you do, so you may as well do something.
With your long-term view, you can allow yourself to make small improvements over time instead of feeling like you need to do everything in one day.
Take every action or goal you’re considering and break it into pieces. Using the resume as an example, some people don’t even know where their resume is stored on their computer. So your first course of action would be to simply find your resume and move it to your desktop where you can easily reference it while you work on it. That’s your first objective.
When I started this blog, my first action was to figure out what service I’d use to host it. This took a week alone of researching different providers. Then I took an entire week to write the About Me section.
Maybe some of you don’t need to take this long, but if you find that you’re struggling with procrastination, minimize the next action until you’re willing to begin.
Incremental improvement over the long-term unstoppable.
Act First, Reflect Later
This idea is from a book called How To Find Fulfilling Work which I highly recommend.
Most decisions have too many variables to try and predict if we’ll like them.
For example, a job has several factors like the work environment, the people, the schedule, the amount of repetition vs. new projects, and the level of autonomy. But no one talks about these when deciding what to do for career or even just their next job.
People focus too much on the tasks of the job like accounting, doctoring, and lawyering, but completely ignore all other factors. I’m not saying what you do at the job isn’t important, but that these other factors can be just as significant as what you actually do at the job.
Being confused about whether you will like a certain career, job, living situation, or anything, is completely normal because you can't know until you actually try it.
The information you desire when trying to figure out if you’ll like something lies down the road of that decision. So the only way to know is to move forward and assess when you have more information.
It's Not One Thing
Fulfilling work is just one component of a fulfilling life. You also have to take care of your health, relationships, finances, and spirit. I believe doing work that you love will make improving all the others things easier, even it’s having just a little more time, energy, and money.
People often ask me “What’s your passion?” And my answer is always “I have many passions.” People think you have to choose one, but for me it’s about building a life of things that I’m passionate about. I enjoy my day-job at a start-up, I enjoy everything that comes with running a blog, I write music, I exercise, I read. If I was allowed choose only one of these things, I’d be miserable.
Don’t think that there will be one thing in life what will be responsible for your fulfillment and sense of meaning. It is a combination of things.