Many moons ago, I walked into the law library of my large Washington, DC law firm. One of the partners was reading a journal of recent legal decisions. As he sat in a large reading chair as if he were reading a great novel, the partner I was standing next to noted: “Alex does this every month when new decisions come out in the legal journal.” Alex loved the law. That was why Alex was successful. At the same firm, a fellow associate mumbled and grumbled about his work. Constantly. David was an Ivy-league law graduate and by most accounts was generally brilliant. But he didn’t really like legal practice. Back in the day, it was uncommon for lawyers to be fired. So it was a surprise when Davide was let go. Now, I look back on it and think it wasn’t surprising at all.
If you don’t like your career path, soon enough you won’t be that good at your work.
Consider what happens when people start on a career path.
Those that like their career will think about how to improve their work during off hours. They will read about the field. They will come in on time or earlier and leave a bit later. They won’t mind putting in time on the weekends or other off hours. While at work, they will be engaged and thus learning at a fast pace. Management will pick up their positive body language, energy, and attitude. That will help them move upward.
Recently, I worked with a twentysomething who graduated Fairfield University in Connecticut. She had not found in her footing in her first two jobs. She didn’t like the work and not surprisingly did not succeed. Finding her a career path that made her happier has led – thus far – to a much more successful job path.
Those that don’t like their career will do none of those things. After work, they won’t think about work except due to anxiety. If they come in early, stay late or work on weekends, it will stem either from a boss’s order or simply out of worry about keeping their job. They will be bored at work and thus learning at a slow pace. Management will pick up those negative body language cues, the looks of disinterest, and those grumbles about working late.
The good news about the pandemic is that it has liberated us all to seek out happier work. Life is too short seems to be the prevalent ethos.
The better news is that this will also lead to greater success.