Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Do you like your job?

It’s a question people ask me – and the thoughts that race through my mind are well captured in today’s WSJ article “If not for your kids, would you really be dancing in Rio?”. Worth reading and read on for a tool to help you think through what to do if the answer is no.

I took 2004 off after some health issues and then wanted to determine whether to go back to work or not, and if so what to do? The first – whether? – was easy. I was bored out of my brain staying home. I slept, redecorated the house, worked out, traveled extensively with my family and cleaned out every closet, but when my kids went back to school in September I knew I had to go back to work to stay sane. I confess I did not go dancing in Rio, but I did dance figuratively in London, Rome, Paris and New York, not to forget several Hawaiian islands.

So then to – what? I consulted, I worked for my non-profits, I spent time as an EIR at a leading VC firm to figure out if I’d like that world, and then I used a tool on myself which I have advised people to use in their own career planning.

It’s simple. Two columns. One with the activities I enjoy every day that I have experienced across different jobs. The second with the activities I do not enjoy. Note, it is activities not title, scope, pay etc. I figure it’s like buying a bed. You spend a third of your life in bed – it had better be comfortable. I spend well more than a third of my life working – it had better be challenging, joyful and rewarding at an emotional level.

When I looked at the positive side of the list the activities were mostly associated with building teams, markets and companies. Time spent with great people, time spent with customers solving problems, time spent executing creative market development strategies. Really fun stuff. On the negative side was time spent in b***sh** meetings with people I don’t respect, time spent doing busy work for non-useful corporate processes, or traveling frequently to countries I don’t particularly enjoy.

When I netted it out for me it meant being a CEO again of a growing company where I can set the agenda and build the team (hence my selection of FirstRain). For each person the result will be different but the process will be revealing.

The good news is most people enjoy their jobs. If they didn’t they’d move. The WSJ reports that while many are working to pay for their kid’s tuition, 90% of Americans are somewhat satisfied with their jobs and more encouragingly two thirds would take the same job again “without hesitation”. If you’re not in that two thirds – get a piece of paper, draw two columns…

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