You know, the kind with a regular paycheck, reasonable expectations and decent working conditions.
Nowadays, it seems as if we’re all being coached for superstardom. We’re urged to set lofty goals, speak up in meetings, be productive not busy, arrive early and stay late, lean in, learn to say no, and make ourselves indispensable.
But what if all you want is a job? You know, the kind with a regular paycheck, reasonable expectations and decent working conditions. Surely it should be acceptable for people to simply want work that pays the bills so they can pour their passions into their family, higher education, an art form and/or their community.
None of this means, of course, that it’s OK to just skate by doing the minimum or that you’re not interested in forming lasting relationships with colleagues or customers. Every job has something to teach us and contributes to the collection of experiences that makes up our lives.
Nor does this mean you should stay in a job you hate. While at times everyone has to endure a less-than ideal circumstance because it’s a stepping-stone to something greater, life is too short to be miserable all day every day. If you’re deeply unhappy at work, take concrete steps every day to find a new and better situation.
But say you’re pretty happy with the job you’ve got. It’s not a career — you don’t want it to be — but it suits you to stick with it, at least for now. Here are three tips to keep in mind:
Always do your best. Consistently delivering a high-quality work product actually helps you more than it helps your employer. It builds self-esteem, does wonders for your reputation and can make even humdrum duties feel more fulfilling. A sense of accomplishment, of mastery, is one of the paths to true happiness.
Make and keep connections. Even if you think that once you leave this job you’ll never work in the industry again, you never know when those relationships will stand you in good stead later. Jobs aren’t forever. People are.
Finally, focus on building up your skill set. You’d be surprised at how many job skills are transferable. Organizational ability, computer knowledge, budgeting, recruiting, scheduling, negotiating, fielding complaints, training and supervision are just a few — and come in handy in all sorts of fields.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.