One of my best friends is a computer programmer. We have worked on several projects together and have designed some really useful software (if I do say so myself). I would always ask him, “Can you program it to____________ (fill in the blank)?” His response was, “Sure! Given enough time and money.”
That is when he introduced me to the Good, Fast, Cheap triangle. With any project it can be high quality (good), done quickly (fast), or not very expensive (cheap).
You can only have two exist at a time. It can either be done really fast and cheap, but the quality won’t be very good. Or it can be done well and quickly, but that is going to be expensive.
You get the point. That is why his answer to “Can you program it to ____?” was always "Yes, given enough time and money."
Many of us dream about the perfect job... great hours, incredible pay, doing exactly what we want. While I am a believer that you can strike professional gold, many times, every aspect of a job may not be flawless. What ends up being an awesome circumstance, may not be exactly how you pictured it. Your goal in any job is to maximize (not perfect) the five ideals discussed below.
I’m not saying you can’t have it all. You may not be able to have “good, fast, and cheap” simultaneously and to the same degree. But, you can still have the outcome you want. So, what does that look like?
Let’s say you found an amazing job with supportive people and a great salary. It checks so many boxes and on paper looks like a great fit; however, it is in Kansas and you want to be able to surf every morning before work. That job is no longer perfect. But, maybe you’re happy taking that job as long as you can go on multiple surfing trips throughout the year. It all comes down to what is most important.
When looking at our career often refer to the 5 ideals:
To have the flexibility, autonomy, and authority to work when you want. Being able to work when you want gives you an amazing feeling of freedom.
To work where you want geographically and in the environment you want.
Who has two parts: To have the freedom with the type of patients or clients, and also the team you want to work with.
To live a greater purpose and work every day fulfilling that purpose.
To feel a sense of deep satisfaction about what you do as well as be compensated in a meaningful way.
These 5 Ideals can be looked at as a polygon instead of the triangle of “good, fast and cheap.” Only it’s not that you have to pick just 3 or 4. You can have them all, but the representation may be different depending on what you’re looking for in your life.
You may accept a lower salary because flexibility is more important to you. You may choose a job that has a higher salary because it helps you fulfill your why of going on frequent mission trips. There is no one single formula for the perfect job and that is why it is so hard to decide which to choose and why it seems like no one can help us with the decision process. But, these 5 ideals do help us get to the job that is right for us.
How do you apply these ideals to decide if you should take a job? Here is the step by step process:
1) Identify Your Values & List your purpose
Write out your values. Determine the things that are most important to you. Rank them from most to least important. If you have a written why or purpose statement, it can be extremely helpful to identify if a job is right for you.
2) Analyze The Characteristics of the Job(s)
In the previous post we discussed key ways to look at a job. Write out all the information you gathered about the job. Please note that in this step we said to write out, not “think about.” If you don’t write it down, your head will be spinning and it is almost impossible to think clearly.
3) Compare your prioritized values list and purpose to the characteristics of the job. How well do they line up?
Two final pieces of advice, don’t seek perfection in a job….it doesn’t exist. Take a job that has more of what you like and less of what you don’t like, as long as it doesn’t go against any of your values. Secondly, if you are choosing between two jobs or looking at one, you likely can’t make a wrong decision. You would not even be “deciding” if either decision was really bad. Just remember, trust your gut and get counsel from multiple people -- especially your professional mentor.