by Kate Wendleton
Most people say their main fault is a lack of discipline.
On deeper thought, I believe that is not the case.
The basic problem is that their priorities have not
become deeply planted in their hearts and minds.
Stephen R. Covey,
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Having A Career Instead of a Job (12:50)
You may be reading this because you want a job. But you will probably have to move again after this one. After all, the average American has been in his or her job only four years. To make your transitions smoother, plan.
When faced with a choice, Select the position that fits best with your Forty-Year Vision; select the job that positions you best for the long term.
A rudimentary Forty-Year Vision takes less than an hour, but is the most important criteria in selecting jobs. Ideally, base your vision on research to make it somewhat reasonable.
CASE STUDY: BILL
Bypassing the “Ideal” Offer
All his life, Bill had been an accounting manager in a bank. He was proud of the progress he had made in his life, given his modest education. Now he was almost forty years old. When he lost his job, it was time to become a controller–the next step up–ideally in a company near home.
Following The Five O’Clock Club method, Bill got three job offers:
#1: as controller for a bank only ten minutes from home–the job of his dreams.
#2: as an accounting manager for a quickly-growing bank in a neighboring area–still a long commute.
#3: as an accounting manager for the health care division of a major insurance company 200 miles from home.
Bill wisely selected the job that would position him best for the long term–the one that would look best in his next job search. He selected job #3 because it would allow him to have two new industries on his resume. Health Care was growing, and Insurance would broaden his financial services experience.
But Bill wanted to hedge his bets, and not uproot his family. He got an apartment close to the new company, and came home on weekends. After a year and a half, the company was taken over, an unpredictable event. The new management brought in their own people.
This time, Bill was not worried. He now had valuable experience on his resume, and was sought after. He took a key post in a consulting firm that served the health care and financial industries.
CASE STUDY: CHARLOTTE
Positioning over Money
Charlotte received three offers:
#1: with a credit card company in a staff marketing position dealing with international issues.
#2: with a major music company as head of marketing for the classical music division.
#3: with a non-profit research organization as head of marketing.
The first two positions paid about the same, let’s say $90,000. The position with the not-for-profit offered $75,000, and there was no room for moving the salary higher.
How did Charlotte decide which position to take? The music company was not a good fit for her: the people were rough, and she would have failed in that job. The credit card job would be easy but boring, and she would not learn anything new.
Charlotte selected the not-for-profit position, the lowest paid job. In her Forty-Year Vision, she saw herself as the head of a not-for-profit someday. Since she was only 35, she did not now need a position with a not-for-profit. But she felt good when she interviewed there, and took the job that best fit with her long-term vision.
Charlotte loved the people, and her position put her in contact with some of the most powerful business people in America. Top management listened to her ideas, and she had an impact on the organization.
After one and a half years, there was a reorganization. Charlotte was given management over a larger department, and she received a pay increase to match her new responsibilities, and brought her past the other offers. But, best of all, Charlotte’s job was a good fit for her, and fit in with her Forty-Year Vision.
People Who Plan Do Better
A study of Harvard students ten years after graduation, shows that those who had specific goals made three times the average Harvard graduate. Those with written goals made ten times the average!
Money is not the only measure of success: those who have a plan do better at reaching their goals, no matter what those goals are.
When you have a clear, long-term goal, it can affect everything: your hobbies and interests, what you read, the people to whom you are attracted. A vision gives you hope and direction. It lets you see that you have plenty of time–no matter how young or how old you are.
CASE STUDY: BRUCE
Plenty of Time to Accomplish
Bruce, young, gifted, black, and without parents, was doing little to advance his career. Like many aspiring actors, he worked to make ends meet and auditioned for parts.
But Bruce spent little time auditioning or improving his craft because he was trying to make ends meet. What’s more, he had recently been devastated by a girlfriend.
Using The Five O’Clock Club assessment, Bruce realized he was going nowhere. His first reaction was to do everything at once: quit his part-time jobs, become a film and stage director, and patch things up with his girlfriend. With the help of the Forty-Year Vision, Bruce discovered his current girlfriend was not right for him in the long run, and that he had plenty of time left in his life to act, direct, and raise a family.
His vision prompted him to campaign to get a good agent (just like a job hunt), and take other steps for his career. Six months later, Bruce landed a role in Hamlet on Broadway. (It was one of my happiest days.) Because of his vision, Bruce knew what to do next to get ahead. In fact, he is on tour now.
CASE STUDY: SOPHIE
Making Life Changes First
Sophie, twenty-two, had a low-level job, wanted a better one, and did the Assessment exercises.
She was depressed by her Forty-Year Vision. Like many who feel stuck, Sophie’s “vision” was the same depressing situation every year. It seemed her life would never change.
With encouragement, she did her vision again, and let her dreams come out, no matter how unlikely they seemed. She saw herself eventually in a different kind of life. Although she initially did the Vision because she wanted to change jobs, she saw she needed to change other things first.
She got her own apartment (to make it easier to study), broke up with the destructive boyfriend she had been seeing for eight years, and enrolled in night school. It took her two years to take these first steps.
She now effortlessly works toward her long-term goal of becoming a teacher and educational film maker.
CASE STUDY: DAVE
A New Life at 62
They eliminated his job after Dave had worked for his company for over twenty-five years. At 62, he had a lot of energy and a lot to offer, and wanted to work. He was depressed until he did his Forty-Year Vision.
His new life included: working two days a week developing new business for a small company, being on the Board of a not-for-profit, heading a State commission, and consulting for an international not-for-profit. Instead of slowing down, Dave was busier and happier, and was able to quickly implement most of his vision. He kept working on the remaining parts, eventually getting everything he wanted.
CASE STUDY: BOB
Sticking With His Vision
In Bob’s Forty-Year Vision, he wanted to end up at age 80 having done something significant for the community, yet having earned a good living doing it. He was offered a substantial promotion at the place where he currently worked–but it was at odds with his community service goal. After much soul-searching, Bob turned down the promotion, took steps to implement his Vision, and ended up starting a not-for-profit that eventually would impact communities across America.
Thinking Big; Thinking Small
Doing the Forty-Year Vision takes less than one hour. The entire assessment takes about one week elapsed time. Later, test and refine your vision. Some people (including me) write out goals and action steps. But if you do the exercises in the books, you will be doing more than most.
A vision gives you perspective. Without a vision, you may think too small or too big. Writing it down makes you more reasonable, more thoughtful, and more serious. Having a vision also makes you less concerned about the progress of others because you know where you are going.
A man may not achieve everything he has dreamed,
but he will never achieve anything great
without having dreamed it first.
If you succeed in judging yourself rightly,
then you are indeed a man of true wisdom.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince
Many people go through life looking for favorable “breaks.”
Perhaps the biggest break anyone could ever receive
is to decide exactly what it is he or she wants
and then become obsessed with obtaining it.
Dennis Kimbro, Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice
The preceding is an excerpt from The Five O’Clock Club Book Series by Kate Wendleton. The Five O’Clock Club, Forty-Year Vision and Seven Stories Exercise are registered trademarks of The Five O’Clock Club, Inc.