“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”
Ernest Shackleton is most well known for his Antarctic adventures from 1901-1922. During those years, there was an intense race to be the first human to reach the South Pole. Shackleton came within 115 miles of the pole on one expedition before he was beat to the punch by another team of explorers in 1911.
In response to the pole being conquered, Shackleton cast a vision of being the first explorer to cross the Antarctic continent from sea to sea via the South Pole. The feat was unheard of and extremely risky, which is why he chose to advertise the trip using the words in the quote above.
Using the advertisement, Shackleton successfully recruited 27 other men to join him on the terrifying journey. Although the expedition turned out to be unsuccessful, Shackleton did manage to save every single one of his men from sure death after they were stranded in the middle of the Antarctic ice.
Can you imagine responding to an ad like the one Shackleton posted to recruit his crew? What would you have to be offered in exchange for risking everything?
When you set out to “find a job you love,” you are effectively accepting a similar challenge related to your career search. At a time when excuses run wild as to why people settle for unfulfilling work, you have to make a decision that a career of purpose, fulfillment, and impact are more important to you than any supposed “risk” associated with taking on the challenge of finding a job that matters.
You undoubtedly have fears associated with your career search and trying to find a job that matters. You think to yourself:
- What if I can’t find what I’m looking for?
- What if I don’t even know what I’m looking for?
- What if I find my dream job and they tell me I’m not qualified?
- What will my family say if I don’t fulfill what they want for me?
- What if I don’t have the dedication and discipline to meet my own expectations?
- What if it’s not possible to find a job that matters?
I hear you. I promise. I hear every one of these fears repeatedly from people who wake up one day terrified about the path they’re on. That goes for students, and young professionals, and old professionals, and more. That nagging fear does not discriminate based on age, race or religion. It’s there and it’s real.
Let me share some of my fears with you. I’m scared of:
- People settling for less than they’re capable of
- People letting the status quo and complacency scare them away from chasing their dreams
- People letting someone else tell you what you want to do with your life
- The world never benefitting from the problems you’re meant to solve
- Waking up one day and realizing I’ve wasted years of my life doing work that doesn’t matter to me
The more people who do work that matters, the more the greatest problems of our time will become irrelevant. If you can find a path to doing work that matters, you should take it. That path starts with establishing the right mindset about your career and career search.
A Job That Matters
Before we move on with this mindset material, I want to make sure we’re on the same page with what I mean when I say, “Find a job that matters.”
A job that matters is my way of saying your job:
- Supports your personal purpose and makes you feel alive
- Aligns with your personal sweet spot—the intersection between your passion, your skills, and how you want to provide value to the world
- Lets you work for a company whose values align with your own
- Empowers you to use your natural strengths and creative talents everyday
- Enables you to build a foundation for your ideal lifestyle and vision for the future
- Allows you to build your idea of a balanced life around the Seven Fulfillment Factors: Career, Physical, Financial, Spiritual, Family & Friends, Mental, and Travel & Adventure
Most importantly, a job that matters is one that allows you to be fulfilled in life and make your impact in the world. That can mean alot of things to a lot of different people. For one person, it might mean being the best frigging dad in the world. For another, it might mean writing a book a year for life. For yet another, it might mean leading the fight against hunger around the world. The most important part of the equation is to be open and honest with yourself about what fulfillment means so that you’re open to finding the opportunities that get you there.
Here’s my key point about a job that matters: Life is too damn short to live for the weekend and dread showing up on Monday mornings. So finding a job that matters means finding a thing that gets you excited to go to work, fulfills you, and makes a dent in the universe.
Your mindset needs to consist of three main ingredients if you want to find a job that matters:
- Be Authentic
- Nothing is impossible
Be authentic sounds corny. Fine. Call it corny, but do it anyways. Carl Jung, one of the most famous psychological researchers of all time, put it perfectly: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Finding a job that matters is the perfect opportunity to align the person you are with the work you do.
Being authentic means battling to get the job you want rather than settling for the first one that comes along. Being authentic means you have to avoid the dogma of others and the mindset that there are only some jobs that are acceptable for you. Instead, you’ll have to build up courage to find that work that allows you to use your unique talents to do some good. Finally, being authentic means that your work shines and truly makes an impact in the world.
The first step in adopting the right mindset to land a job you love is to be authentic. If that means moving to Africa to work on the water movement, that’s awesome. If that means grabbing a job at an old-school Fortune 500 company and changing the culture from the inside out, more power to you. If that means starting a company, go for it.
At the end of the day, you’ll have to decide what your truth is. And if you can live your truth with authenticity, then not only will you make an impact in the world, you’ll also inspire others to go do the same.
Thousands of people are surfing online job boards right this very second and they’re hoping they get picked. The majority of those people have exactly one version of their resume, and it is bland, lacks excitement, and doesn’t accurately portray who they are. Those are the exact people who will not put in the hustle required to find meaningful work.
If you’re a regular Living for Monday reader, then I would bet that you’re different. I believe you’re the kind of person to put in the work and grind to reach your goals. And if not, then hanging around this community will help you become a hustler. Without hustling, you simply won’t have a shot in hell of finding a job that matters. You’ll have to hustle because finding a job you love is hard. Period.
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
Here’s the secret: the dip (as described by Seth Godin in The Dip) applies exactly to the career search process. I’ve seen it a hundred times. A college senior will ignore the career search process the entire year and then get excited about it one Sunday night. They do a ton of research, make spreadsheets of potential companies and contacts, and make an entire plan about how they’re going to land their dream job.
Different people will carry this excitement for varied amounts of time, but eventually every hits the dip. The process gets hard, people don’t respond to the first request for a meeting, you’re tired of research, and you’re just ready to take an offer. This is where many people quit. They start applying to anything they can find on job boards, interview as much as possible, and then take the first offer that comes in.
But some people keep going, because they know that if they push through the dip, they’ll be rewarded with a job that matters.
You’ll have to hustle because it will be too easy to quit if you don’t. You’ll have to hustle so that other people can see why you deserve a job that matters. As Dave Ramsey puts it. “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Well, as I put it, “Hustle like nobody else, so that you can do work that matters.” Or something like that.
Nothing Is Impossible
Take a minute and think about the guy in the picture above. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, which might be cliche, but it’s the perfect example for what we’re talking about here. When he got on that space shuttle, there were a million things that could have gone wrong and resulted in his death. But guess what? The astronauts who thought it was impossible — they were sitting on their couch, anxious as hell, because they knew they could have been the first guy to step foot on the moon.
“It’s impossible to get picked for an interview through an online application.”
“It’s impossible to find a job that pays me well and allows me to do something I love.”
“It’s impossible to get connected to the decision makers that have the power to hire me. It’s impossible…”
No it’s not. You’re just scared of failing. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the reality. It’s not impossible, but you might not make it. You might not get it right the first time you go searching for work you love. You might fail. Sorry.
Trust me, I get it. You hit the dip (like we talked about above), enthusiasm wanes, your hustle starts to fade, and your morale takes a nose dive. It starts with one person not responding to an email, and then turns into five, and before you know it you have a victim’s mentality. You believe that it’s just not meant to be and you resign yourself to that fact. The only ticket out of that self-fulfilling prophesy is to combine the three mindset elements of authenticity, hustle, and belief that nothing is impossible.
Think about it: if you’re hustling but you don’t believe it’s possible to succeed, then you’re probably working hard at self-sabotage in one way or another. Or, if you’ve been authentic in identifying what you want from your career, but you don’t believe it’s possible to make it happen, then you’re likely to accept any old offer because it’s the safe option.
If you want to find a job that matters, you’ll have to develop a mindset that nothing is impossible. Nothing less will do. When you adopt an attitude that nothing is impossible, the world will start to open up to you and opportunities that have never existed for you before will become available. Instead of waiting for email responses, you’ll start picking up the phone. Instead of watching another episode of Friends or playing another round of Call of Duty, you’ll start building a portfolio of work samples. Instead of waiting to be chosen, you’ll choose yourself. That’s what happens when you believe nothing is impossible.
This is all great for passive reading and inspiration, but what does it mean for your life, right now? It means you’ll have to take action to create a plan to find a job that matters and become a top performer.
1. Create a Goal
If you’re going to be successful in finding a job that matters, then you need to have a clear goal in mind. Whether you’re in the middle of a career search or simply trying to become indispensable in your current job. You may have heard of “SMART” goals, but let’s do a quick refresher on that concept:
- Specific – There shouldn’t be any question about what you are trying to achieve. Presumably, your goal is to find a job that matters, but this also applies to other goals. The more specific you can be about your goal, the more likely you’ll be able to envision the process to complete it.
- Measurable – You need to understand how you’ll know when you’ve met your goal, so there should be some kind of measure associated with it. You might further specify your initial goal by saying: “I want to find a job that matters by receiving three job offers and accepting one.” You know you will have met the measurable goal when you receive three job offers and decide which one to accept.
- Attainable – Your goals need to be challenging, but not completely unrealistic. For example, you should not set a goal to get a job as an astronaut if you have a background of an English degree and working for a newspaper. That’s not to say it is impossible to be an astronaut as an English major, but you’re going to need an entirely new skillset and long timeline to make it happen. Instead, you might start with the goal of obtaining the necessary training or education first which is more attainable and will lead you closer to that long term vision of becoming an astronaut.
- Relevant – Your goal should be relevant to the task at hand. If you’re career searching, then your specific goal should be career-related. The same thing applies no matter what area of you’re life needs work.
- Time-oriented – Parkinson’s Law says that a given task will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion. Therefore you need to give yourself a timeline. Decide on a timeline to achieve your desired goal and remember to keep it attainable. If you’re graduating in 6 months, that is probably a good timeline to work from. If you are ready to change jobs today, then you need to give yourself a little time to do this thing right – the last thing you want is another job that sucks the life out of you.
Your goal needs to keep a few things in mind. Start by answering a few basic questions:
- By when do I absolutely NEED to have a job? And by that I mean, what is the latest date that you could stand to wait to land the job?
- When would you like to land a job? When would it be nice to have a job?
You can think of your “nice to have” date as your stretch goal and your “need to have” date as your drop-dead goal.
The time in between your ” nice to have” date and your “need to have” date is the time to put your hustle hat on to reach your goal.
Find a calendar and mark your dates. Then get ready to take an honest assessment of what it will take to get there.
2. Make a “Stop-Doing” List
Take some time to write down a list of things you need to stop doing in order to adopt the mindset necessary to land a job that matters. Think about these questions:
- What key activities are holding you back from what you want to accomplish?
- What habits do you have now that are preventing you from reaching your goals?
- What toxic people are you spending your time with that make you feel miserable, frustrated, and stuck?
These questions are effectively an analysis of your current environment. The reason we ask them is simple: you are about to do something extremely counter-cultural that will require good habits and plenty of support from your team (aka the people that care about you) around you.
Start taking steps now to cultivate the environment necessary for you to succeed by getting rid of bad habits and frustrating people with limiting mindsets.
3. Make a “Start-Doing” List
Now take some time to make a list of things you need to start doing.
- What do you need to start doing more of in order to adopt the necessary mindset to find a job that matters?
- What habits might you need to adopt in order to make this process happen?
- Who are the five people who can provide you with the best support system to help you reach your goal?
- Where should you be spending your time to get your best work done?
- What mentors could you seek out to support you and hold you accountable throughout the process?
- Who in your life is living an exemplary life that you admire? Would they be willing to mentor you?
The questions here are similarly aimed. You need to cultivate an environment to prepare you to succeed moving forward.
Spend your time in empowering places with empowering people who are willing to help you, guide you, and hold you accountable.
Finding a job that matters is hard work. By adopting this mindset, you can overcome every challenge you’ll face along the way.
When you wake up on a Monday morning excited to go to work and you read your friends’ tweets saying how sad they are to go to work, you’ll look back at this and laugh. And you’ll realize just how fun it is to live for Monday and do work that matters.
- Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909 by Tom on Flickr
- Ernest Shackleton Photo by Jaaziel on Flickr
- The Dip Photo by Ben Nadel