I coach a lot of people with their personal lives. Whether it’s dating or job hunting, the shotgun approach seems to be more frequently a failure over the targeted approach.
When we are not clear about what our target job role (or in dating, who our ideal partner) would be, we often find ourselves just sending out expressions of interest to any and every opportunity and end up taking the first one that responds with a decent package on offer. Sadly, this approach doesn’t often lead to a healthy relationship of any kind. Whether it’s a job role/company relationship or a life partner, if we just go for the superficial things, we are often excited at first, only to discover it’s not a good match.
One of the major obstacles that tends to trip people up is chasing an ideal instead of a standard to bring them ultimate happiness and success. Ideals are often fun and nice to have, but it’s the standards that, when met, will sustainably fulfil our primary needs.
Has anyone found their ‘dream job’ only to find out that you have a micromanager? Or worse, the manager who said they were really into ‘flex time’ but now display a disgruntled look when you head home after only a 9-hour day?
This is why I encourage my clients to really get clear on the difference between a standard (that which brings you long-term satisfaction) versus ideals (which bring you instant gratification and then feelings of dissatisfaction).
Can you think of a time when you chased ideals and then wondered why you were so unfulfilled?? If you can’t think about it in regards to a job, try thinking about in regards to your romantic life. Now you’re feeling the “AH HA” moment, aren’t you?
Let’s take a job hunt as the example. You see the ad and think to yourself “WOW, that would be the ideal job, I must have it now!” You then quickly do an inventory of your past experiences or current skills to see if you can even score an interview. You call your friends, colleagues and research the internet to find out how you can position yourself to get this job and beat the competition.
Now, the question I must ask you is this; “how much clarity do you actually have about whether this job will meet your ‘standards’ when it comes to meeting your needs in the short and long term?” Do you think $250K/yr and 6 weeks holiday with a short commute is the only thing you must have in a job? Or are you more focused on an autonomous role with career progression? Do you require proximity to your gym, favourite restaurants or after work bars? What about flexible hours or a boss who wants to genuinely mentor you for promotions? Does the culture fit how you think and work? Can you bring your dog to the office?
To gain clarity in this instance I recommend a 4-part exercise to isolate standards from ideals, so that you can then focus on the right jobs and companies for you. It’s broken down at a high level as follows:
1. Write your list – Imagine your ideal job, say VP of BestCompany.com. Write down all the things that this job and company would give you and categorise them in groups such as:
In this step literally write down the PERFECT, UTOPIAN work environment that your brain can conjure up. There are no limits, be extremely creative and write down literally everything that you can imagine (the above is merely a guide).
2. Rate your items in your list – You are now going to label each item from 0-10, where 10 is “must have or I’ll die without it” and 0 is “Honestly I just wrote it to satisfy the exercise but it really doesn’t matter”.
3. Write your deal breaker list – Once you have the line items listed from one to 10 write a new list of “Deal Breakers”. These are things you will never tolerate again in a job or from a manager/company. Write a list of things you know will literally destroy your happiness should you encounter them again in a job. These should all be rated at a 10 for you. Examples could be:
- No upward mobility
- Lack of Pay Increase
- Long commute
- Culture XYZ
- My boss treats me like their PA
4. Review and Finalise your list – At this stage you should have a very large and succinct list with all the things you feel you MUST HAVE to be happy and MUST AVOID to stay happy. It is at this stage you need to really differentiate of those 9/10s, what is truly a standard and what is just an ideal. You will then need to modify your skills or CV to reflect the shifts you have just made.
You can definitely attempt the last step on your own, but we often have blind spots that can’t be discovered on our own because, well we’re blind to them!! You may benefit from being facilitated through this step in the process when ready to ensure you are realistic, succinct and have a way forward once this has been accomplished.
Now that you’ve successfully differentiated your standards from your ideals, read your list daily to integrate the information. Make sure to refer to your Finalised List when you begin the job search for that role that is going to bring you job satisfaction!
Speller International are excited to offer Debra Linder a guest writing spot for blogs with more of a human performance focus. Our hope is that these blogs will challenge the way our SAP network think about their career and their own personal growth. Debra holds certifications in Strategic Intervention Coaching, Training & Assessment, NLP and others, and is all-round passionate about personal development. Connect with her on LinkedIn.