If someone offered you a job, one of your first questions would be: “How much does it pay?”. It is a legitimate question. Our society and economy are based on the fundamental principle that if you are going to perform work for someone you deserve to be compensated. Many students learn this rule early on in life. They get an allowance for doing basic household chores. Then, as teenagers, they gain part-time employment at a local store or business. Again, trading their time for money.
It’s a pretty basic formula and for young kids and students, it makes perfect sense. You take a few hours out of your week to earn money that you can then spend on yourself. However, somewhere along the journey, we never stopped to understand how your work will change as you get older. We never stop to realize how much changes when you go from part-time to full-time. How much more time and energy goes into a career. Students often fail to understand the massive difference between working for spending money and working to support not only yourself but other people.
I graduated from college nearly 10 years ago and went straight into the workforce. Like most graduates, my first full-time job was not my first job ever. I had held several part-time jobs over the years. The idea of working for money was very common for me. Furthermore, it was a formula that has been supported by those around me as I was growing up. I was taught that you go to school, get good grades, get a good job, and make money to support your family.
As I began working in corporate America, alongside others who grew up with a ‘job = money’ mentality, I started to notice a disturbing trend. A significant amount of the people I was working with seemed unhappy about their jobs on a daily basis. They were constantly complaining about the week being too long, about the weekend being too short, and anything else to show how dissatisfied they were about being at work.
Even worse, it was becoming apparent that my co-workers were disappointed with how their lives had turned out. How does that happen? We control almost every aspect of our life. We control our choices and therefore should have control of how our day to day life ends up. Well, it turns out, you only control your future, if you choose to take control of it and make intentional choices to work towards the goals you set for yourself.
As we established earlier, at a young age we follow a formula where we perform work for someone and that individual or company pays us accordingly. However, that only works when the job in question takes up a small amount of our time. Money is the only motivation one needs when the only goal is to obtain enough spending cash to buy new clothes or hang out with friends. The attitude and mindset of a student must change when preparing to enter the workforce after college.
You career choices need to be about more than just money. They need to be fueled by your desire to reach specific goals and make a specific impact on the world around you. This is important because of the amount of time, energy and resources your career will take up. If you are going to spend the majority of your week doing something, shouldn’t it be something that brings you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment?
It is interesting how many adults did not make this choice. How many adults are currently working in corporate America in jobs they cannot stand. Yet, they cannot change careers because they need the money. For these people, that is all a job is. When a job is nothing but a paycheck it can feel like an obligation and a chore. Furthermore, if you are not excited about what you are doing, you will spend the majority of your day waiting for it to be over.
So, how do we ensure that we will end up with a career that we enjoy and life that we actually want to live in? Any students, at any level, should begin by asking themselves, “What type of person do I want to become?”. When you ask yourself this question, everything changes. You are no longer beholden to one job or career but instead, are opened up to a field of opportunities based on the type of person you want to become and the impact you wish to make.
You are changing your mindset. You no longer look at a job as something that gives you money. You are now looking at work and your career as an opportunity to make an impact on the world around you. You have the chance to take control of your future and leave a legacy on your terms. You can now work something that excites you and will drive you to view work not as a chore but as the best part of your day.
Take time to answer this question. Think about your life and what brings you joy and satisfaction. What brings you a sense of accomplishment and makes you feel good about yourself? Perhaps, you are the type of person who likes to help people. Maybe there is a specific problem in the world that you want to solve or a group of people you want to help. Whatever is, figure out what you want to spend your days, weeks, months and years working towards. What do you want to look back on 50 years from now and be able to say you did?
Too many people treated their career choices based on things like money and security. Then, when they got into those jobs they realized that a paycheck was not enough. They realized they were spending the majority of their time working on projects and tasks that meant very little to them. The lack of passion leads to a lack of motivation which ultimately leads to feelings of resentment and anger towards your job and career.
As you plan your next steps in life, figure out where you want them to lead. What type of person do you want to work towards becoming? What type of life do you want to live? Make the decision that you are not going to end up like those who came before you. You are going to take control of your life and your future. You are going to realize that a job and career are not about money but are instead about making an impact, a difference, and leaving a legacy you can be proud of.
Kyle Grappone is the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life including college, entering the workforce and the real world. He offers several students focused services including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org.