Question: How do you find and get a job you really love? See the answer at the end of the blog.
“ There is no fun like work,”
-Dr. Charles Mayo, Mayo Clinic
Most Americans will work approximately 90,000 hours. If you master the lessons below, your hours of work will be hours of renewal, refreshment, and joy.
Before you can land the job you love, it’s important to develop a philosophy of work, and to do that, it’s useful to know the work philosophy most people live by today. To millions of Americans, a job is only a means of survival; a chore done to pay the bills—necessary, but unfulfilling. However, many Americans adapt to their job situation well, and develop a sense of identity and pride in the work they do. In fact, many adapt so well, that their job becomes their life, and they don’t know what to do with themselves when they retire.
You don’t have to be one of these lost-in-a-routine people.
A Philosophy of Work
Humans are born to work; work is as natural and necessary as breathing. Therefore, the work we do should flow from the core of our spirit, as harmoniously as the blood that flows through our body. Since our work is part of our essence and a form of creation, it follows that a good job fulfills an essential part of our existence. Work should be so fundamentally invigorating, that it becomes an extension of living, rather than a chore performed for survival. Our work should be our symphony, our proclamation to the world that we are here, and that what we do is important.
In the best of all possible worlds, all people would have jobs like this. Even in our imperfect world, such work can be found. The first step in the search is mental—the realization that finding the right job for you is one of the most important issues of self-fulfillment. This issue needs to be your highest priority. After you realize how serious that importance is, the next step is to get the education and training necessary to qualify for your ideal job. If this means going into debt, it’s worth doing. If it means working 60 hours a week, it’s still worth doing. The rewards will far outweigh any temporary hardships, and once the hardships are over, you’ll have the rest of your life to enjoy the rewards.
Follow That Dream
Unfortunately, the number of Americans who have found jobs they love is small. Some people are born with a talent that becomes their life’s work, like Mozart or Horowitz. As a child, Quincy Jones, stage performer, composer, arranger, and conductor, saw an orchestra and knew immediately that he wanted to be a musician. Some people, like Tiger Woods, are fortunate enough to have had nurturing, supportive parents. Some children had parents whose bad character and behavior inspired them to become the opposite.
My Epiphany – Dr. Henry Parker
When I was 17, my entire life had been planned for me until death. I was in the world’s largest Benedictine monastery, preparing to become a monk and a priest, elated that I would never have to think about the future, because my future would be decided by the abbot of our monastery.
After three years of prayer and meditation, I realized that the call I’d heard to be a priest hadn’t come from God, and I left the monastery. A lost soul, I wandered in the darkness of inertia for the next eight years. I kept going to school, but I had no goals. Then one night I was in a bar at seven corners in Minneapolis, when the professor I assisted, James Arlington Wright (Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, 1974), touched me on the shoulder. We talked and he said his students told him they liked me as a teacher when I lectured in his absence.
That was my epiphany. At that moment, the blinders fell off my eyes and, in my mind, I became a college professor. I went on to complete a difficult doctorate, and started my career even before I finished the degree.
I have taken few vacations in my life, because my work has been like a vacation. It renews my spirit and gives me a natural high. It keeps me eternally young. If you master the lessons in this chapter, the same results can happen to you. One of the greatest rewards is making a living doing what you love.
What if You Don’t Have A Clue?
What if you don’t have a clue what job you might love? Don’t panic. Millions of students are in the same place. Many students are afraid of choosing the wrong career. The average adult will change jobs every four or five years, and change careers three times. It’s all right to make changes, because you need to do whatever it takes to finally land the job you love. A good way to find out what job you might love is to take a series of tests designed to show what your interests, strengths, and talents are. The tests narrow down the job possibilities for you. You can find such tests in your school’s career placement office, or on the Web by typing “career advice” into a search engine, and it will guide you to various interest inventories.
But choose something. Then you can explore it and change your mind before you spend 4 years preparing for something you don’t want.
Once you’ve narrowed the possibilities, seek professionals in these fields, and spend time on the job with them, as discussed in chapter two. Remember, it takes extra effort to find a job that fulfills you. Life is a journey, not a destination, or, as poet Alla Bozarth says, “Life is school, folks.” So if you have to search in the darkness for a while, it’s not a waste; if you have to go back to school after your children are grown, it’s worth it.
Seek as mentors people whose lives and accomplishments you admire. Ask them how they got where they are, then follow their example. Even if a job doesn’t satisfy you fully, consider it a step along the way, and that it’s better to be productive than wallow in indecision. Make sure you set your financial expectations in line with the entry level of any job. For example, the life of a CPA for a large accounting firm usually requires tons of hours and a starting salary of $45,000.
Make sure you are prepared for it and manage your finances for the average income your entry level job provides. Also, if you are a musician, author, artist or athlete, make sure you use the average minimum rather than those that are at the top producers.
Fulfilling Job, Unfulfilling Salary
What if you love a job, but it doesn’t pay enough? For example, the starting salary of some jobs is higher than the top salary of others. This is true of physical therapists versus social workers or teachers. However, physicians earn more than physical therapists, and CEOs of big companies can make more money in bonuses than physicians make in salaries.
However, salary isn’t everything. The best thing to do is to take a lower-paying job you love, than a high-paying job you dislike. Of course, you have to decide if you can be content with the lifestyle the job allows. If your need for an upper middle class lifestyle is so compelling that you can’t live without it, go ahead and choose a job for the pay, then pursue your interest as a hobby.
If your love for the job outweighs your lifestyle requirements, take the job, and compensate by moonlighting. I paid for graduate school by working summers as a waiter on a train. Some of my co-workers were high school principals and teachers, who wouldn’t give up teaching, and they made ends meet through their summer jobs. Although the number of people who have fulfilling jobs is small, I hope you will be inspired by the stories given below.
The Leap – Dr. Henry Parker
Of all the students I have ever taught, Ken was one of the most impressive. After graduation, he married the campus beauty queen, and immediately went to Alaska to make his fortune. One day he became aware that he was almost 50, working hard at a job he didn’t like, and still hadn’t made his fortune. Through a series of events that led to his being fired, he was forced to find a new profession. Ken took a leap. He poured his soul and his life’s savings into the hobby he truly loved, photography, and it turned into his life’s work. His photographs of Alaska’s majestic beauty are breathtaking, and in demand. Risking his savings to do what he loved, Ken created a prosperous business and statewide fame for himself.
One of the TV networks did a story of a California medical receptionist who had never missed a day of work in 50 years. Her job was her life, and gave her a great sense of satisfaction. Whether she was sick or well, she said, it never occurred to her to miss work. For her, work was a celebration of life, an affirmation of her role as a human being, an assurance that her life had value, because she brought warmth to the lives of sick people each day.
Another TV network aired the story of a New York policeman who directed traffic at a busy intersection in Manhattan. He loved his job so much that he literally danced as he worked–motioning to drivers with rhythmic pirouettes and stylized movements of his hands and head. With the grace of a Broadway dancer, he lowered his body to the ground, then rose again in slow motion. Pedestrians loved to stand and admire his work. His passion turned a routine job into a testament of beauty, and he brought lightness and grace to that intersection.
When I lived in Minneapolis, I met an auto mechanic who loved cars so much, that sometimes he hugged the part he was working on, and talked to it, “Hey baby (talking to the radiator), show me where you’re leakin’, and I’ll fix you up.” His beautiful attitude and enjoyment of his work let customers know their cars were getting the best possible service, and they, too, smiled.
During the frenzy of the Y2K anxiety in South Africa, the media relied extensively on the expertise of Desmond Nair, a young production manager at Microsoft of South Africa. He was able to calm the hysteria by giving sound advice about what was needed to offset a potential disaster. His passion for computers began when he was young, and today he’s one of the most publicized and successful engineers in his country. His mother said that, as a little boy, he went to school with his books and his lunch, and came home with his lunch untouched, because he was so absorbed in computers that he forgot to eat.
The Los Angeles Miracle
Mr. Arthur Winston is a hearty, active, 100 year old man. In 2006 he retired from the Los Angeles Transit Authority, after 72 years on the job! During that time he was never late, and he missed only one day of work! No matter how he felt, he refused to call in sick. Because his remarkable feat was publicized on national television, he is now the pride of Los Angeles, and an inspiration to our entire country.
Researching the Job
When you go in for a job interview, you’ll make a strong impression by knowing the history and current status of the company, including the names of its top officers. Search for the company’s website and read all you can about it.. Note key words they repeat throughout their descriptions, these are the values the company tries to instill in it’s culture. Remember and include them in the next few steps. Try to find information about the person you are interviewing with on their website or even on LinkedIn When looking for specifics about a particular position, turn to sources like glassdoor.com for anonymous reviews by people who have/had that position.
Making a Resume
It is very important to have an attractive résumé because it often determines whether you will be considered for a job interview. It is very easy to make a résumé, because there are many websites to help you, as well as computer programs such as Microsoft Word. Go to “file,” then “new,” then you will see an icon called, “Professional Résumé.” Simply fill in the form under the categories listed, which are your name, objective, experience, education, and interests. Please add categories if you have additional talent or experience, such as Languages Spoken, Foreign Travel, Honors/ Awards. If you aren’t in school for a business major, this is a perfect opportunity to obtain a mini-mentor in one of your peers who studies business. They get things like resume building and interviewing banged into their heads constantly, some schools (like Josh’s) even have Business Skills classes that are required. People are almost always more than happy to share what they know to help someone.
Many companies like the résumé to be no more than one page, but two pages are also acceptable. Your résumé must be truthful, or you risk not getting the job, or being fired when the truth comes out.
Preparing for the Interview
You have done research on the company, you have prepared a résumé, and now you are now ready for the interview. The interview is everything. Prepare for it as if it were the most important thing in your life at this time. Fortunately this preparation is easy, because experts have written books that give a step-by-step plan for passing the interview with flying colors. Take a look online for lists of commonly asked interview questions and have an idea of how you would answer them. You don’t want to have a word-for-word answer planned out for every single question. You want it to be a natural response, not a canned one. You also want to read into the questions a bit, see the additional information after each question below as an example.
A few of these questions are:
- Why should I hire you? (Talk about your education, your experience, and your character traits: I have the work ethic.)
- What is your greatest weakness (Kind of a b/s question but talk about what you’re doing to overcome that weakness, e.g. I’m a little absent minded but I’ve been using a planner lately that has really helped to keep me on track_
- Tell me about a time you failed (but bring in what you learned from the experience and how that helped you to not fail again in the same way)
- How are you better than the other candidates I interviewed today? (be honest about your skills and where you truly believe you will excel)
- How can you contribute to my company? (tie in your skills, previous applicable experience, and work ethic).
Think of the interview process as a performance, like the Olympic games. Your goal is to go for the gold. Olympic champions train years to qualify for a three-minute opportunity to win immortality. Three to five minutes into the interview, the interviewer will have made up his or her mind. Your job is to make the best impression possible in the first minutes of your meeting with the interviewer.
To make a super impression, you need to have all your bases covered. Be on time. Better yet, be 15 minutes early to the interview. One base, not usually mentioned in books on the subject, is language proficiency. I know of a student who graduatedsumma cum laude, with a GPA of 4.0 on a 4.0 scale, but failed his interview because he wasn’t able to properly express himself like an adult. In 1987, I was asked to create and teach a special course in Standard English for students at a junior college in Chicago. Through a survey, the college learned that even though their students had mastered the requirements for jobs as computer technicians, secretaries, paralegals, and similar professions, their inability to speak Standard English resulted in being denied the jobs they were otherwise qualified for.
Standard English is a must no matter who you are. If you are from the South, find a student from the Midwest to do practice interview sessions with you. In Brooklyn, there is a college that offers a special course to those who grew up in Brooklyn. Their form of speech, a regionalism called Brooklynese, can be a liability in the corporate world. Students in the Midwest and in Ivy League schools are encouraged to avoid, “mall speech.” Mall speech is the language of soap operas. Examples of mall speech are: “We had a fun time.” “He is so totally cool.” “Well, like, you know what I mean.” “Duh.” “Like I said, it’s cool.” Mall speech is not even a dialect, but it is equally offensive to employers who want employees to represent them as masters of the English language.
Interviewers evaluate the applicant, not only for language proficiency, but also for grooming, attire, attitude, and a variety of other factors. It might surprise you to hear that an applicant’s body language can speak louder than his or her voice. Job interviews experts agree that the first impression the applicant conveys often determines the success at landing the job. That’s why it’s so important to prepare mentally before the interview, to let yourself walk into the interview feeling upbeat and confident.
Because appearance is important, it’s wise to dress conservatively but one step above the daily wear of the company. The traditional blue business suit is recommended for both men and women. Hair, hands, and shoes should be clean and neat. No party hairdos or fingernails, facial hair at a minimum. No hats. No suggestive clothing. Eye contact and a firm handshake help give that show of self-confidence. Breathe deeply to keep your voice and smile relaxed and confident. Focus on what you can do for the company, based on your research of the company, its products, and success. If you’re aware of a particular problem the company is having and you have expertise in that area, show how you can make an important contribution as an employee.
Before you go in for the interview, imagine you are doing it already, and doing it successfully. This is called, “visualization, and is practiced by millions. This means that before your interview you should take a moment and see yourself arrive promptly, dressed appropriately, and fully prepared; in the interview, responding to the interviewer calmly and intelligently, handing the interviewer a professional résumé, answering questions calmly and fully, and being offered the job.
Jean Ann visualized her goal seven years in advance. She was 12 when she took her first airplane flight. Because a flight attendant was exceptionally kind to her, and made her feel special, she decided that she would become a flight attendant. She began immediately, making her wings out of paper, imagined serving passengers, and visualized herself walking through airports with the crew. Seven years later, at age 19, she set out to apply to three airlines. When she walked in for the interview, her poise and self-confidence impressed the interviewers, and all three offered her jobs, even though the minimum age requirement was 20.
Location, Location, Location
When you visualize your ideal job, include the city where you want to work, because it’s a double victory to be able to work and live in a place you love. Think about it, if you can live in any city, which would it be? Why not plan to work there? Most people can’t have their dream job in their dream city, but, if you’re young, single, and free, you can. Why not go for it?
Robert grew up in England, and loved the Blues. When the time came for an important career move, he selected a job in Memphis, the home of the Blues. He lives in a book-filled condo overlooking the Mississippi River, a few blocks from Beale Street, where Muddy Waters, BB King, Elvis, and other legendary artists got their start. Each year, Professor Robert hosts a convention for philosophers from around the world. After their meetings are over in the evening, Robert has a Blues band to entertain them. Robert has it all—a job he loves in the city he loves. With foresight and planning, so can you.
If your job can be done by means of e-mail, Internet, fax, and phone, it’s easy to live and work in a place you love. Given the ability to work from any location, many people have moved to Montana. Here they can enjoy the awesome beauty of nature, and work at the same time, feeling that living in Montana is better than spending two to four hours a day commuting to work in a dirty city. Another man I heard of, recovered from a heart attack and packed up and moved to Maui, Hawaii, saying he’d rather die in Maui than live anywhere else. He’s still living, working, and accomplishing in Maui. All any of us have is a life to live. Why shouldn’t we live it in the best way we can think of?
Dr. Cannon’s Definition of a Job
The truth is that most people work for someone else. Even the word “job,” is displeasing to me because it implies taking orders from someone else, spending my days pleasing a supervisor who might be mean, unfair, and even abusive.
People with a “job” are vulnerable to downsizing, co-worker competition, location change if the company moves, and unemployment if the company folds. To me, an authentic “job” means self-employment, being your own boss, setting your own hours and pace, and enjoying 100% of the profits in the American free enterprise system.
Dr. Cannon built one of the most successful medical practices in his area. Then he branched off into e-commerce, through an organization called “Quixtar,” which is based on (1) setting up a virtual store in your home computer; (2) buy products from yourself at a cheaper price, and get a commission on what you buy; (3) recruit others to do the same, and get a commission on all they buy and sell.
Quixtar has been so rewarding that Dr. Cannon resigned as director of his clinic, and devotes full time to e-commerce. To show its income potential, the company had a Brink’s truck bring thousands in cash to one of its national meetings. The presenter stacked the cash in piles, and said, “This first pile represents how much one can make each year as a lawyer; the second pile shows what a physician can make; the third pile shows what an accountant can make. Now, let’s stack all the piles on top of each other. This stack shows how much one can make in our business.
Job vs. Family
It has become a cliché that, when people are dying, most lament the fact that they hadn’t spent more time with their children, not at work. Or they regret that they married their jobs, and neglected their life partner. The point is, of course, that we need to create balance between working for our bread, and eating our bread with those we love. Fortunate is one who has both.
Answer to the Question: How do you find and get a job you really love?
The best way to answer the question is to break it down into these points:
- Choosing a job is one of our most important decisions.
- Choose a job that fulfills you as a person, realizing it may take experimenting with many jobs, to find your ideal one.
- Prepare yourself for the job by getting the education you need.
- Ace the interview by preparation and researching the company’s history and current status.
- Both Job and family are important.
- Determine your lifestyle needs before taking a low-paying job you like.
- Remember Dr. Cannon’s definition of a job.
Information without action is just a waste. We have exercises available to go along with this article that can help kick off the planning process.
by: Dr Henry H. Parker, Brett Machtig, & Josh Gronholz
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About the Authors:
Brett Machtig has authored several books and is the founding partner of The Capital Advisory Group, a private asset management and retirement planning services firm located in Bloomington, MN. Their firm manages more than $400 million in assets for 83 institutions and about 850 families as of December 31, 2014. He has been helping affluent investors execute financial strategies, meet income objectives and realize life visions for more than 30 years. Approachable, genuine and down-to-earth, Brett holds himself to a high standard of accountability and seeks to achieve positive financial results on behalf of each client. In this article, Brett shares the effectiveness of each strategy and how to improve it.
Josh Gronholz graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and is a Registered Assistant. He has worked in asset modeling with The Capital Advisory Group and has spent the bulk of his career modeling various investment scenarios. He is co-writing a book with Brett to help twenty-something investors make good financial decisions early on in their lives.
Henry H. Parker Dr. Parker, a Ford Foundation Fellow, is presently a Cunningham Distinguished Professor at the University of Tennessee, Martin, where he taught and field-tested A Twenty-Something’s Guide to Financial Freedom for 10 years prior to its publication. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas. He received the M.A. from the U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and the Ph.D. from the U. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. HIs most recent publication is, Apollo vs. Dionysus, 2014. Dr. Parker has been featured on, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and his work has been included in The New York Times, USA Today, and People Magazine. He has been a speaker on the national lecture circuit for the New York-based agency, Program Corporation of America. Henry H. Parer is not affiliated with The Capital Advisory Group Advisory Services or United Planners Financial Services.
(1)finra.org/web/groups/industry/@ip/@reg/@notice/documents/noticecomments/p118980.pdfas of 8/2014
(2) www.sec.gov/divisions/investment/advoverview.htm as of 8/2014
(3) www.fi360.com/products-services/tools-overview, as of 8/2014, Results not guaranteed.
The information contained does not constitute an offer to buy or sell securities and is provided for illustrative purposes only. The information comes from reliable sources, but no guarantees or warranties are given or implied to its accuracy or validity. The strategies listed do not necessarily reflect those of its publisher, MGI Publications or its authors. Information obtained from publicly available sources listed herein and footnoted where applicable. Securities offered through United Planners Financial Services of America, a Limited Partnership, 480-991-0225 member FINRA/SIPC, 7333 E Doubletree Ranch Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258. Advisory Services offered through The Capital Advisory Group, LLC 5270 W. 84th Street, Suite 310, Bloomington, MN 55437, 952-831-8243, an independent registered investment advisor, not affiliated with United Planners Financial Services of America. ADV, Part 2A as of 3/26/2015, available upon request. Many investments are offered by prospectus. You should consider the investment objective, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing. Your financial advisor can provide a prospectus, which you should read carefully before investing. An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other government agency. Although a money market fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in a money market fund. Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss. Please consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. Asset allocation and rebalancing do not guarantee investment returns and do not eliminate the risk of loss.