By Lisa Ryan
John: “I’d love to go back to college and get my degree.”
Jane: “So, why don’t you go?”
John: “I’m so tired when I get home from work, and it will take so long for me to get it. I just don’t have the time to do it.”
Sally: “Wow, you’re so lucky that you have such an awesome job.”
Dan: “I started in the mail room 10 years ago and just worked my way up through the company. I’m pretty happy with where it’s gotten me.”
Sally: “The mail room? I would never even consider a job like that. Wow, it was pretty lucky that you did that!”
Charles: “I just got offered this really awesome job, but I’m not sure if I’m going to take it.”
Doug: “Why not?”
Charles: “Well, it’s paying $1 an hour less than what I’m making as a landscaper, and I don’t want to take the cut in pay.”
All of these examples are based on real conversations. The one thing they have in common is a need for instant gratification, the bane of our existence. The person going to college after work, giving up sleep and time with friends and family, will one day receive his/her degree as a reward for his or her hard work. John, on the other hand, will stay stuck, never reaching his full potential until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. (The funny thing is that he’ll be just as old with a degree as he will be without one.)
Dan, on the other hand, was willing to start in a menial job to learn the ropes and work his way up through the organization. He knew that the mail room would give him ample opportunities to get to know the people within the organization, by name, department, and title as well as in person when he delivered the mail. He worked hard, made connections, and became the very best mailroom person he could be. His tenacity was noticed, and his progression within the organization gave him everything he wanted in his career.
Sally believes that jobs, titles, and corner offices should be automatically given to her through tenure alone. She does what she’s paid to do and no more. She assumes that she is just not “lucky” and her career is at a standstill. Until she makes the effort and does more than she is paid to do, she will stay at the same level.
What about Charles? Have you seen people get blindsided by a temporary step backward and never take the opportunity to move 10 steps forward in the long run? We all have. When you have long-term goals, you are willing to do what’s necessary and invest the time to achieve them. We generally overestimate what we can do in the short term, but we underestimate what we can accomplish over the long run.
To achieve your dreams and goals, you need to, as Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” Set your sights on all of the things you would like to accomplish in your life and keep on target.
Celebrate your little victories along the way. Acknowledge yourself for your progress and don’t forget to recognize others for their support and encouragement. Minimize the time you spend with people that want to keep you where you are, they will only continue to hold you back.
Don’t try to figure out exactly how reaching your goals will happen. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way.
Remember to do the hard things now and your life will become easy. If you take the easy road now, your life will probably get much harder.
Employee engagement expert and motivational speaker Lisa Ryan works with organizations to help them keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. For more information, she can be reached at (216) 225-8027 and her website.
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