Finding meaningful work can be challenging. It usually involves a mix of passion, proficiency, and profitability. If you’re not emotionally engaged, competent, or getting paid enough to cover your bills, you’ll wrestle with burnout, frustration, and worse.
But let’s say you know exactly what your dream job is. You’ve got your sights set on something right up your alley and smack-dab in the center of your sweet spot.
We’ve all been around people who seem like they have their dream job, but can’t quite make it happen. Maybe that’s you. You know what you were called to do, but you just can’t seem to get the traction you want. Or, maybe you’re flying high but feeling down because your life is totally out of balance.
I’ve got one piece of advice, and it works for both conditions. Following this strategy has enabled me to stay productive with work I love for decades, whether in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur. Here it is:
Schedule your dream job.
I discuss exactly how in my new book Living Forward: How to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. It comes out next week, but here’s a sneak peek at three tactics to make time for what matters so you can gain the momentum you desire and sustain it for the long haul.
1. Schedule your priorities
And I mean all of them. Sometimes we know exactly what we want to accomplish work wise. We charge forward full of energy and enthusiasm. But in our extreme focus, we can easily neglect everything else.
I love Gary Vaynerchuk, and I love his book Crush It. I’ve recommended it countless times. But sometimes we stay in perpetual crush-it mode and miss other areas of our life that give us meaning, don’t we?
Put your work aside for a moment. What about your significant relationships, your health, your spiritual life, even your hobbies? Here’s the reality: What doesn’t rank doesn’t fit. If you don’t schedule time for all the things that matter in your life, your dream job will become a nightmare.
2. Schedule your week
When you’re scheduling your priorities, it’s best to start with your ideal week. What does it look like? Are you preserving the kind of margin you need for everything that matters?
Why your ideal week? Because it puts you in the driver seat. It’s a way to proactively prioritize. Your taking a stand for what matters most to you. Without doing the advance work of scheduling an ideal week, it’s too easy to slip into a reactive mode and get sucked into other people’s agendas.
The trick is to take everything you want to accomplish across all the areas of your life and get them down. It becomes your template for meaningful action. And the more precise you are, the more productive you’ll be.
When we’re vague on our time, our work feels vague too. Tasks expand to fill available time, and we find ourselves making far less progress than we want or are capable of.
3. Schedule your year
This might seem like a stretch at first, but it’s critical for making significant progress. Once you know your priorities, you need to protect them. The best way to do that is to set aside the nonnegotiables: holidays, vacations, work travel, key meetings, and so on.
Then you want to block time for discretionary activities like conferences or other enriching events.
This is a great opportunity to get clarity about your targets. One of the ways we find happiness is to make significant progress towards meaningful goals. That goes for all of life, but it’s critical for our work.
Without big, compelling goals, work becomes humdrum. And the best goals have deadlines and incremental steps you can schedule. Maybe it’s writing a book or launching a new business. Whatever it is, get the key dates on your calendar.
These three tactics should point us to an important fact: Meaningful work cannot be disconnected from a meaningful life. A dream job is one part of a dream life. And getting intentional about our time is the first way to make that dream a reality.
Meaningful work cannot be disconnected from a meaningful life.
Michael’s new book Living Forward show how to integrate our daily work with our dreams. If you preorder it by February 29, you’ll get $360 worth of bonus materials and tools to help you design — and get — the life you want. Don’t miss it!
What is your dream job? How can you apply the principle of scheduling to your dream job? Share in the comments.