Survive or Thrive

I’d like to talk a bit more about the last three posts on setting goals, opportunity, and what we need to think about right now to leave on our own terms.

Unfortunately, I did it all wrong for a number of years. There was a time when I didn’t have it all figured out. I had a personal goal and terms for leaving, but that was it. I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I knew because of my rank that I could make it to twenty years and get a bit of a retirement. So, here’s what I did: I decided to just survive my day job and make it to twenty years. I even told my boss that I was there to do the bare minimum and get out at twenty to be a writer someday. I know, maybe not the best entrance interview.

Only now do I realize how rough it is with just the one goal and not the others, and I cringe at the thought of how many opportunities passed me by because I saw them all as work and risk- mostly to my ego.

There are probably some readers who remember that Jamie. I was not having a good time and was caustic to everyone around me. I had no professional goal, so there was nothing to work for but the paycheck, but with no financial goal other than what was right in front of me, well, the money did me no good.

I was no better off for being where I was, and I can tell you for certain that the places I worked at were definitely not as successful as they could have been were I a little more engaged. People weren’t so thrilled to have me around, and even when they tried to tell me that I needed to change, I didn’t listen. I say this because I know now that the dark years were of my own doing. They were a conscious decision on my part, and I’d like you to not make the same decision. I’d like you to choose to thrive at the job that takes so much of your day.

I can ask nicely for you to have a positive attitude, and I can ask you to be that positive influence for those around you so we can have some fun doing what we’re paid to do, but I can’t make you do it, and it’s not something you can fake indefinitely.

You have to choose your attitude, just like you have to set your own goals and commit to them. Only with those goals, all three of them, can you really use the day job to be the person you want to be. When you know that’s happening, that you’re there for a reason and working towards something, your attitude gets better all on its own. Trust me on that.

I can hope you’ll make the job better because you’re actively engaged in accomplishing what needs to be done for the mission, your coworkers, and your customers or client base. Because of that, there will be opportunity, but you have to see it for something other than just more work.

Most importantly, I want you to define, today, right now, the terms by which you plan to leave.

– Are you looking for skills to get you to the next job?

– Are you looking to transition to a new career, or waiting to hit some personal milestone before you go?

– Is it a plan to retire and do something new? If so, what’s next, and how are you working towards it?

If you don’t know what you want to do next, and what you want from this job to get you there, how will you know when it’s right to leave?

How will you thrive?

When we put it all together, it looks something like this:

I work here because of the opportunity it provides. I’m having a good time, we’re both getting something out of this, and I will leave on my terms. When I go, I’ll be leaving as a better person, a better professional, and more financially stable than I started.

If you’re working towards that statement, you’re probably thriving.

I find, more often than not, people are just choosing to survive instead.

I know, there’ s a lot here, but what do you think?

What do you choose?

Have a great week out there.

– JT

Related posts:
Set three Goals

You’re Leaving

Opportunity looks a lot like work

Day Job Final_Web

James Tinker

About James Tinker

James was born and raised in Bangor, and left home at 18 for the Navy. Twenty-five years later, he retired as a Command Master Chief, the highest enlisted rank on a warship in San Diego. His popular blog series, The Day Job, shares personal and professional lessons learned through his career.