Focus your work on the big wins

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Focusing work on the big wins seems like stating the obvious. The problem is this: what are the “big wins” from your work?

Life Optimizer notes in Focus Your Effort on the Big Wins that even though this focus should be a no-brainer, the reality is different:

One reason is that the big wins are often not obvious. You can’t see them right away. You can immediately see that you save three dollars by not buying latte, but the amount you save on mortgage interest can’t be seen immediately. You can only see it by looking at the big picture and thinking long term.

Well, what are the “big picture” wins in a career? I’d suggest three.

Business Networking

Business networking is having a big group of helpful people in your industry that you share information and insights. Increasingly, the future opportunities available to job seekers will come from the networks they have created from their work. Maintaining and building this network is a big win for every career-minded individual.

Task Management

Mundane. I mean, who focuses on task management work outside of David Allen and Stephen Covey?

Yet, we are increasingly asked to handle diverse work in what we do. The future is coming at us faster, priorities change daily (or, hourly…), and the more responsibility we get from promotions, the more we are expected to do.

Task management asks us to build a system that works for us — a system we can trust has all of our commitments identified, inventoried, and ready to work. Without this big win, we will lose our commitments, not complete our work on time, and develop a professional brand of someone who doesn’t deliver.

Personal financial security

Look, the corporate world isn’t getting stable — it is getting worse. Layoffs are rampant the the probability of someone being laid off in their lifetime is approaching 100%. It doesn’t matter how great you do your job, you can simply work in the wrong place at the wrong time and it’s all over.

Personal financial security helps protect you against these life-changing events. I’ve long advocated having one year’s take-home pay in the bank precisely because that knowledge protects you from getting  defensive in your career and stave’s off desperation to take any job offered, good or not.

Getting to one year’s take-home pay in the bank is not easy to do. But knowing you can continue to have a life after a layoff sets you up to take the right next position for the right reasons. That’s a big win.

None of these big wins are obvious. And, frankly, as Life Optimizer notes, we don’t work on these big wins enough because we get caught up in the daily crisis. These are big picture and that’s why they are big wins.

What is a big win for you in your career?

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