How would you like to be remembered at the end of your career?
We all may have been looking at our careers the wrong way. Everyone mostly views their job and profession from beginning to end. We hyperfocus on each step up the rungs of the corporate ladder. Perhaps, we should view things differently—by starting backwards.
Look through the lens of your career as if you’re retired. To get a little deeper and heavier, how would you like your obituary to read? How would like people to remember you? At your funeral, will the priest or rabbi cite your crowning achievements as leading your division to 14 successive quarters of straight growth and preparing a wonderful profit statement? Will the attendees fondly remark on how you were able to wrestle the prices of widgets made by your company down by two cents, which saved the company a few bucks?
Would it be disappointing to hear that you’ve forsaken your kid’s soccer matches, ballet recitals, baseball games, concerts and plays due to your steely determination to help the company hit monthly quotas. They’ll say you heroically stayed late in the office, extensively traveled to close deals and worked weekends right up until the end. It was too bad that you were downsized—due to your job being relocated—and had to take an early forced retirement.
Will any former co-workers step forward and say that you had a meaningful impact on them? Were you kind, caring, loving, supportive and empowering to those around you? The way you are living your work-life now, do you think you will have regrets later on? Would you rather hear a different version of yourself? Would you prefer to have protégées and people who you’ve helped over your career thanking you for offering your undivided time, attention and helpful advice? Or a family that appreciates your balance of providing for them, but always being there? Would you prefer a job that may not have made you a multimillionaire, but you were able to provide for your family and more importantly, an integral part of their lives.
Time goes by too fast not to think of these things. Before you know it, the kids are out of the house, your career is ending and what do you have to show for it? Don’t wait until then. Start now. Think of what you really want to do and not what you think you have to do. Take a job that makes you feel proud, even if it doesn’t pay as well. There is no reason to suffer through ungrateful, bad bosses. Find a job and career that offers meaning and purpose. One that you can go to sleep at night and know you’re making a difference. Make time to help others—it’s actually a selfish act, as you’ll get more satisfaction than they get results.
Take some risks and chances with your career. Think big and go forth boldly in pursuit of your dreams. You may fail, but that’s okay because at least you tried. You can look in the mirror and say that you gave it your best shot instead of always wondering what could have been.
You always hear reports that older people have one regret—not enjoying their time. Savor the journey. We all want quick results. Appreciate all the little things along the way. Thank your co-workers and give credit to others for a job well done. Be happy for other people’s successes. Build up your network of work-friends who all try to help each other.
It’s important to be responsible too. In today’s fast-changing environment, you’ll never know when the ax will fall and you’re out of work. Save as much money as you can, so that at the end of your life, you’re not in bad financial shape.
Did you waste time arguing with strangers on Twitter and trying to one up your friends and family on Facebook and Instagram or did you focus on what’s important in your own life? Are you spending too much time and energy worrying about deadlines, what your boss thinks of you and how you can quickly advance, while not giving enough attention and affection to the people who really matter?
Ask others how they see you. Listen to their answers—even if it hurts—and act upon their advice to improve yourself. Take a look at your calendar. Is it only filled with work-related matters or are you devoting quality time to family, friends and helping others? Do you regret screwing over people to get ahead in your career and need to make amends? Are there broken relationships, that you caused, which need fixing? Do you have friends, family and colleagues that deeply care about you?
It’s not too late to change your life. Before any more time goes by, assess what you’re doing and whether or not you are living the type of work-life that you’ll be proud of 20 years from now.