Career Opportunities

Helping to build the career you deserve!

A weekly ComputorEdge Column and Podcast by Douglas E. Welch

Doing a lot, doing enough

August 27, 2004

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Unlike some high-tech workers I have met, computers and technology are not the sole focus of my life. I have many varied interests, some computer-related, others not. In fact, at any one time I may have many different projects vying for my attention. This often leads those me around to comment, “You seem to do so much!” While it may be true that I am “doing” a lot, I often find myself wondering if I am doing “enough” of the right things to improve my high-tech career and my life.


I sometimes find, in my own day-to-day work, a certain lack of focus. We all need to stop and spend a few minutes pondering our bigger goals and the tasks we need to complete in order to get there. One moment I might be updating my web pages; another, I might be helping out a client. Still later, I might be engaged in the typical grunt work of doing business. Unless all of these tasks are focused on a central direction or theme, you can spend a lot of time “getting things done”, but not moving one more step closer to your final goal of financial independence, personal security or even, fame and fortune.

So, what is your goal…for today, tomorrow and the future? The truth is, your goals will change quite frequently. You might have very basic short-term goals, like paying the rent and still have some long range ideas about changing the world. Each day brings a different focus, but there should be some larger goals out there pulling you forward. Without that “carrot on a stick” drawing you forward, you can let your life become filled with the mundane aspects of life.

I know that nothing puts me in a bad mood more quickly than hours and hours of grunt work. Whether it is tracking invoices, entering bills, writing checks or fixing broken household items, I will look up and wonder where the day, week or month went. You need to recognize the symptoms of this and find something else to balance your day.

Busy work, important work

When my friends and clients comment on my busy-ness, this is often a sign for me to take stock of my day. Am I burying myself in frivolous pursuits or has an overwhelming business need kept me away from other thoughts for too long? Why am I doing what I am doing right now? Is there something else I could do that would be more focused on my goals? What would suffer if this particular task didn’t get done? What would benefit? Am I getting the big picture or seeing no further than the end of my keyboard?

While those around you can help remind you to think about these issues, only you can make the important decisions in your life. After you have read every self-help book, listened to every lecture on building a better future and read every article on Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, only you know if you are doing the work that needs to be done.

Don’t let yourself be side-tracked into doing so much busy work that you never get to the important stuff. Not every task leads to immediate rewards. Even though a task might not be contributing to the bottom line, it can still be important. If you are working to build your skills, expand your thinking or develop an entirely new career, these are important tasks that need to be given time and energy. If you deny yourself this, you may wake up one day to ask the dreaded question, “Is that all there is?” If you don’t find a way to balance your important work with your busy work, you might just find that it is.

Regardless of your current job or career, you need to start thinking about your work each and every day. You need to develop some short and long term goals and then gauge your daily work by them. Did you make movement towards your goals today, or did you let life push you around a bit too much? Did you glance off towards the horizon, or spend all day seeing nothing more than the end of your shovel? This balancing act is never easy, but there is little more important to your growth, your happiness and the overall success of your high-tech career.


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