I know quite a few people who seem to think that life owes them a good job and income simply for getting out of bed every day. They go to work and do the bare minimum, yet wonder why they never get a raise or why they are always the first to get laid off. Some are unemployed and send out one resume a week and wonder why they can’t get a job offer. Others start a business, send out some advertising, and then wonder why the clients and money don’t pour in. Some don’t balance their checkbooks or take an active interest in their finances and then wonder why they don’t have any money. These people think that someone, somewhere owes them something and all they have to do to get it is show up for life every day.
Those who work hard understand that this isn’t the way to get ahead. Simply showing up for life and doing the bare minimum to get by will net you the bare minimum. You may be fortunate to have a job, but that job will always be precarious and will not earn you a high income. Your business may get a few clients, but it won’t be as big as it could be. Sending out one resume a week might prolong your unemployment benefits, but it won’t find you meaningful work. To be successful, you have to participate in your life. What does this mean? Here are some ways you can better participate in your life.
Innovate: Be the one who suggests new ideas or new ways of doing things. Don’t settle for the status quo. Look into new product lines for your company or business. Find ways to diversify your income. Find a way to improve an existing product that your company makes. Think of a new service offering that you could incorporate into your business for extra revenue. Always be thinking of ways to do things better or differently.
Be proactive: Don’t wait for things to happen to you. Get out and make them happen. Take control of your life and finances rather than letting them control you. Send out twenty resumes a week instead of one. Send thank you notes and make follow up calls to keep your name at the top of the list. Start that business (instead of just talking about it) and then do everything you can think of to make it a hit. Talk to your boss about a raise, noting all of the contributions you make to the company. If you can’t get a raise, negotiate for more time off or other perks. That doesn’t work? Start looking for a better job. Don’t sit passively waiting for better things. Go after them.
Go beyond the minimum: Don’t just do what’s required of you Maybe organizing the supply closet isn’t part of your job, but if it helps the rest of the company with improved access to things, then it’s worth doing. Maybe you’re not required to stay late and help your boss with her big presentation, but doing so will make you a more valued employee. Maybe you don’t have to put that client proposal in a nice binder, but if doing so will make a better impression then do it.
Going beyond the minimum gets you noticed and can pay off when it comes to bonuses, raises, or referrals.
Learn something: Don’t let, “I don’t know” be your mantra. Your mantra should be, “I’ll figure it out.” If you don’t know how to balance a checkbook, don’t use that as an excuse for poor financial performance. Figure it out. If you don’t know a certain skill and it’s holding you back at work, don’t complain about it; learn what you need to know. If a client asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t pawn him off on someone else or blow him off. Find the answer and get back to him. Learning new things is good for you and marks you as someone who is willing to grow and improve.
If you want to be financially successful (or otherwise successful) in life, you have to do more than just show up. Just doing the minimum won’t cut it. Going above and beyond, however, will make you a more valuable employee, one who is deserving of a raise or promotion. You’ll run a business that has a lot of happy clients willing to refer you. You’ll have finances that are organized and work for you instead of against you. Your hustle will probably get you a better job more quickly than the guy who sends out few resumes and never follows up. Remember: No one owes you anything just because you’re here on this Earth and breathing. You have to take responsibility for your career and your finances and make things happen.