Guest Post: Where, What & When Should I Work

Hi. I’m Jim Martin. My wife is The Job Whisperer. She asked me to write a guest blog this month. So, here’s what I know about jobs.

Where Should I Work. My first real job was in Maryland. I was a college student doing what today is called interning. It was winter, wet and cold. I passed stalled cars on the Beltway every day on the way to the office. The small talk at work was always one thing: the plan for two-weeks off in summer. Everyone talked about going to Florida, taking their boat, or scuba diving, or sun bathing, or fishing. As I listened to these musings and moanings every day from my fellow workers, it occurred to me, “Hey, I am from Florida. What am I doing here?” That’s when I created my first rule about jobs: Work in a place you want to be 50 weeks a year and take your 2 weeks off somewhere else.

What Should I Do for Work. I thought I wanted to be an engineer so I went to an engineering school: Georgia Tech. But while interning in the field I learned that there were thousands of unemployed engineers (this was a while back) so I decided to become a psychologist and transferred to a liberal arts college: Stetson University. My faculty advisor said I should be a math major instead because the world had enough psychologists but not enough mathematicians. So I followed his advice and got a degree in math. (Looking back I wonder how much his advice was slanted by his being head of the math department.) Of course, the prospects for a mathematician, it turned out, were no better than those for an engineer. But Stetson leaders encouraged me to attend its law school, so I did. And it seems that law and math aren’t that much different. One relates to people and property and the other relates to numbers and such, but at the heart of both are rules and logic. I like rules and logic. A lot. So, I’m a lawyer. And I help other people, clients, in dealing with those rules and logic. Sometimes they don’t understand law. But that’s okay. Some people don’t understand mathematics. But that’s why lawyers and mathematicians have jobs. Someone has to do it.

When Should I Work. When I interned in college and my co-workers talked longingly about their plans for their 2 weeks off in the summer, I wondered if it would be possible to have a job that seemed like vacation for 50 weeks a year and then leave the other 2 weeks for family vacation. In other words, what if you liked your job so much and you were so good at it that your job was all you wanted to do all the time? So instead of working 9 to 5 because you had to, you worked all the time. This developed over time into another rule about jobs: Work at a job that you like to do, are good at doing, and people will pay you to do.

The Three Circles. I passed this advice on to my children when they were in college. I said to draw three intersecting circles. In one circle list what you like to do. In another list what you are good at. And in the third list what people will pay you to do. Where the circles intersect is your career. Here’s what it looks like:

And that’s all I know about jobs.

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