Imagine looking back on your career.
What do you see?
Perhaps you stayed at one place for a long time. Or maybe you moved around.
Thinking about getting to the end and looking back can help gain some perspective.
And it may help you to notice something as you snap back to your present situation.
There are probably things you spend way too much energy on. Things that just don’t matter so much in the long run.
You might be taking these things very seriously.
They may really aggravate you.
So you put some energy into resolving them. Or at least worrying about them. Maybe fixating on them.
The question is, are you putting your energy into the right things?
You might be caught up in the politics of the current situation.
Perhaps you are really frustrated by a dysfunctional workplace.
Maybe you can’t stand a co-worker.
You might feel like you aren’t getting the support you need. Or the recognition you deserve.
Maybe you’re not on an interesting project. Or it has some challenges that stink.
The budget may be too small. The deadline too aggressive. The team not gelling the way you would like.
Here’s the thing… are you worried about stuff that is inconsequential to your personal journey?
Or are you fixated on dumb stuff that doesn’t matter…?
We Can Get Lost
We can get lost in our job. And it can impact our work.
Your job is the role you play right now. It’s not unimportant. But it’s not everything either.
Your work is the larger effort that will be the impact you make in the world. Your work is bigger than your job.
It’s the way you serve others. It’s the way you advance various causes. It’s the thing that drives you to learn, to improve, to drive on. So that you can have a bigger impact.
That impact is larger than your job. And that’s what you should probably be focused on.
Your job may be a distraction.
When you look back, do you think you will reflect on the negative ninnies that hampered you along the way?
So why put so much energy into them now?
When you look back, do you think you will reflect on the weird dysfunctions brought about by the particular circumstances of a certain point in time at a certain place?
You might not remember those sort of details at all.
When you look back, will you reflect on what you were able to accomplish? Who you were able to help? Who helped you and how that made you better?
I think that you will.
Which is why those might be things to dedicate your energy to now.
Refocus and Recommit
Of course, it’s easier to whine our way through the day. To focus on the things that are in our way, whether they are really in our way or not.
We can complain about a coworker, a boss, a circumstance.
Or we can take on responsibility for our work. Which is bigger than this little thing that’s happening right now.
We can develop skills.
We can find ways to make a bigger impact.
We can constantly seek out new challenges and new ways to learn.
Even if we have to get creative to do it. Even if we have to reach well outside the boundaries of our “job” to do it.
The Long Term and The Now
The funny thing is, by focusing on the long-term, we can gain clarity on what we should be doing right now.
By thinking about the bigger picture, the smallest questions are easier to answer.
Knowing that our job, even if we hold it for a long time, is not our career, helps.
Even our career is not our real story. The real story is in our work.
That work is bigger than everything else. It is our contribution. It’s the thing we’ll reflect on.
And mostly we’ll reflect so that we can figure out what to do next. How to make the contribution bigger.
That’s worth putting some energy into.