All jobs are a means to an end, which is why all jobs have one thing in common—they come with a paycheck.
Suppose I’m hungry and want a cheeseburger and onion rings. To achieve my goal, I drive to Harvey’s and order their angus burger with cheese and bacon and a side order of onion rings.
In this scenario, eating the cheeseburger and onion rings is my “end” goal. I’m doing everything else, getting in my car, driving, etc. to get a cheeseburger and onion rings. These activities are the “means,” the things I must do to achieve my end goal.
A means is a conditional act. I use several means to reach my cheeseburger end goal—driving to Harvey’s, walking up to the counter, etc.
An end goal is something that’s desired for its own sake. Our decisions and behaviours are driven by it. A company without medical benefits wouldn’t be suitable if one of your end goals is to maintain your health.
All the activities (means) associated with a job, from waking up, commuting, dealing with annoying colleagues, to performing all the tasks required to do your job, lead to one goal (end): Making money.
“Necessities of life” (READ: end goals) have greatly expanded since the mid-70s. Canadians now “need” (READ: feel entitled to) the latest iPhone, eat out three times a week, vacation in Mexico, two cars, a 64″ Smart TV, bottled water, buying Starbucks coffee which can be made at home for 20 cents. We’re not tethered to our employer, which many say, as if work isn’t voluntary, is exploiting them. Instead, we’re tethered to consumerism and always wanting more, thus constantly chasing more money.
How many people in a Starbucks line have little or nothing saved for retirement?
It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff some people accumulate while oscillating between lower middle class and upper middle class—cars, boats, motorhomes, jet skis, etc.
The bottom line: When you buy stuff, you’re told you need, you’re creating your own exploitation. Employees aren’t exploited by their employers. Employees exploit themselves when they feel they must have what marketing propaganda tells them they “must have.”
We’re exploiting ourselves for a Starbucks, an iPhone, eating out, travelling, a leased car, an oversize house, a designer “whatever,” you know, spending money trying to look rich.
I’ve never encountered a boss who was unhappy with an employee going into debt. Indebted employees are less likely to leave.
Regarding a job, what are your end goals other than “make money”? Why do you need to make as much money as you’d like to make? Do your whys stem from your ego or financial prudence?
Ego-driven end goals:
- Buy a car, sailboat, or cottage.
- Every week eat at the best steakhouse in town.
- Take your spouse on a trip of a lifetime for her 45th birthday.
- Get the latest electronic gadgets.
Ego-driven goals aren’t about meeting your actual needs but about appearing “successful.”
Financially prudent driven end goals:
- Save as much money as possible for retirement.
- Pay off your mortgage before the age of 55.
- Build an emergency fund that’ll cover 6 months of your expenses.
- Eliminate any debt you may have. (e.g., student loan, car, credit cards)
Financially prudent goals lead to building equity and wealth, early retirement and being able to pursue your passions, and less stress during inevitable job losses.
Some of the happiest people I’ve met, and know, see their job as little more than a paycheck. As far as they’re concerned, their job is nothing more than a means to achieve their end goals. They don’t identify themselves with their job, and more importantly, they don’t define success based on their boss’s opinion. They define success as making it to the next paycheck. Defining success doesn’t get much simpler than this.
In contrast, I find that those who are the most stressed, frustrated, and unhappy expect fulfillment from their job. Their boss’s praise and recognition are important to them. They believe their work alone should be rewarded with raises and promotions while ignoring that being likeable and successfully navigating office politics is how careers advance.
It may seem noble to remain loyal to your employer. However, I believe being loyal to financially prudent end goals are much more practical, especially when jobs are precarious. During the pandemic, we saw how quickly jobs can disappear.
Ask yourself these 4 questions:
- What are my end goals?
- Are my end goals ego-driven or financially prudent drive? (It’s healthy to have a few ego-driven end goals.)
- Are my end goals causing me undue stress?
- Can I achieve my goals with the jobs I’m going after?
Here’s some advice I learned the hard way: The wrong end goals cause you to chase the wrong employers.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at [email protected].