You probably spend at least 50% of your waking hours at work, going to work, or thinking about work. And to be honest, that percentage is quite modest. For most of us, our career consumes almost 80% of our time and energy. It’s on our minds all the time.
It’s not a surprise that 1 out of 2 people is unhappy with their careers. We trade our precious time for frustration and money.
Ever thought about that? Four years ago, I was also frustrated with my career. And because your job plays such an important role, my whole life felt like shit.
I’m not saying you should love your work at all times and that your career should be one big party. No, some days I also don’t like my current career. But I’m 100% comfortable with the way I spend my time.
Do you see what I’m getting at? A fulfilling career is about multiple factors that you must get right. Otherwise, you will end up hating your life. Specifically, I’ve learned there are four pillars of a fulfilling career.
Most of us only get one or two of these pillars right. But like you and I both know; an unstable foundation does not last. If the foundation of a house requires four pillars, you can’t get away with using only two.
You might get away with three, but if you want to have a house that lasts for decades, it’s smart to use all pillars. And it’s the same for our careers.
Here are the four pillars of a fulfilling career. How many of these pillars do you have in place?
Pillar One: Compensation
How much you earn at your job makes you feel valued—that’s what compensation is about. Money is not about status or material things. When you do work that’s valuable, you should be rewarded for that. That’s what I strive for.
But at the same time, we need to remind ourselves to stay grounded. Chasing money for the sake of having more money never ends well. Learning how to manage your money is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
When you can actually keep the money you make, you’ll feel better about your future. And when you feel better, you can do better work. That will help you to make more money.
Pillar Two: Work
When you always prioritize compensation over the type of work, you won’t feel good about your career. And sometimes, people can go on for years doing work they hate so they can make enough money.
I don’t like that because I value time more than money. I want to make sure that all the hours I’m putting in my work, I actually enjoy. And yes, you can also enjoy the hard and uncomfortable things about your job.
You can train yourself to love hardship. But there’s one condition: You must believe in your work. Otherwise, you feel like it’s all a waste of time. The good news is that you give meaning to what you do.
Pillar Three: Lifestyle
I’ve tried different lifestyles: Traveling for work, living in a big city, and living a quiet life. I like the last one best because it suits my personality and current goals.
For example, if you don’t like traveling—don’t become a business consultant at a large firm. It sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people hate the lifestyle that comes with their jobs.
Don’t like long hours? Don’t work at a start-up. It’s as simple as that. But you must be honest with yourself. Most of us tell ourselves all kinds of lies: “I’ll get used to the two-hour commute.” No, you won’t.
Hence, pick a job that fits your lifestyle. And that’s different for each phase of life. When you’re young, you don’t mind living in a big city and going out all the time. But when you want to build something real in life, you don’t even have time for that. You need to work, eat, sleep, and repeat. In that case, it’s better to live cheaply in a smaller city.
Pillar Four: Contribution
We all want to feel valued and important in our careers. You don’t have to change the world or help a million people. Most of us only want to make a meaningful contribution.
The reality is that only a small group of people are responsible for the majority of the results (Price’s Law) at most organizations.
Once we understand that, we must put ourselves in a position that makes us valuable. Not just because we want to make money or have status. People who believe that don’t get it. Price’s Law is all about making a contribution. We all need to make a valuable contribution to be fulfilled.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to be the most important person in your organization. But you do want to be missed when you don’t show up to work.
“So how do I find such a career?”
I wish I could give you a straightforward answer. But the truth is that we live in a competitive world. Just think about it. Wouldn’t anyone love to have a dream career? The answer is “of course!”
But why do so many people have bullshit jobs? I don’t think it’s because of how smart, pretty, or cool you are—it’s about commitment.
To have your dream career, you have to go out there and create it. There’s no one-size-fits-all. You have to start with nothing and turn it into something.
Once I realized that careers are created and not found; it changed everything. So stop searching for what it is you’re looking for, and start CREATING it.