By Jeff Fortney
We all ask ourselves some form of the question, "Why do I work?" more often than we might think. In almost every case, it's when we're faced with a negative situation, and it's almost always rhetorical in nature. Here are a few examples:
"Why do you work?" is a simple question I ask salespeople often. Although their replies may vary, their answers are what I expect: "I've got bills to pay" or "If I didn't work I would lose everything," for example. These statements – and their variations – are the most common responses. However, what most people fail to realize is that these responses make working harder.
Consider why this question is so important. We think of a typical work week as 40 hours, yet a study of the sales profession conducted a few years ago stated that the average salesperson commits 45 hours a week, minimum, to the job. I am sure many put in as many as 60 hours weekly, a huge investment of time compared with time invested in other activities.
There are 168 hours in a seven-day week. Considering that at least one day a week is spent not doing work activities (necessary errands, doctor's appointments, various family and community obligations, for example) that leaves 144 hours in the six remaining days. If you sleep a minimum of 7 hours on each of those days (and I know that is being conservative) that leaves 102 hours for work, rest, relaxation or simply enjoying life. Of those 102 hours, if you work 60 hours, you are left with only 42 hours per week, or seven hours a day for rest, relaxation or enjoying life.
You may truly love your job, and it is true the sales profession is one that directly rewards your hard work. But, even so, if work were always fun, it would be called play. There is a way to make working easier, or at least eliminate the rhetorical questioning. You need a Why I Work binder.
This binder is not a goals binder. You are not tracking how many calls you make a day, or how many merchants you sign. This binder is a visual reminder of why you make that extra call, or meet with that upset merchant. It is a reminder of why you push through for one more call after failing on the past 15.
We all have those wants – wanting a new car, getting out of debt, traveling to exotic countries or even learning to play an instrument. Some of these things come with added costs, while others require you to have extra time. In all cases, these are the desires we put off for various reasons.
But, if sales is a profession that rewards you for extra effort, why not have a personal goal or group of goals that will help motivate you to make that extra effort, power through the negative, and price merchants profitably?
Start by listing those wants. Just remember, they must be tangible. Getting $1 million isn't tangible, but traveling to Europe is tangible. After listing your wants, narrow the list to a maximum of four or 5 to begin. Try to include at least one non-monetary goal, such as learning to play the trumpet, or attending a class on woodworking.
Get a flexible binder with clear page sleeves and blank pages. You will also need a glue stick if you do this the way I do it, but others may decide to just use their computers.
The first step is to obtain multiple images and words from various magazines or web pages that remind you of that want. They should not be generic statements like "Get new car," but instead should be a picture of a specific car you want, along with words about the joys of a convertible (if that is your wish) and additional pictures of happy people driving that car. Don't skip the pictures that convey positive emotions because it's important that the binder show how you want to feel in addition to what you want.
Once you have your images, glue them onto a page with your related text. Repeat this process for each goal.
Place the goals in the binder, and make this binder a part of your sales toolbox. The next time you have to return that irate merchant call, pull out the binder. The next time you have had a bad day or week, pull out the binder. Take a minute to look through it and remind yourself that this is why you do what you do.
If there's a good chance you'll create your binder, stick it in a drawer and forget that it's there, an alternative is to pin your images and text to a bulletin board and hang it on your office wall.
Remember, this visual reminder is a powerful tool to help you take action. Start working toward your goals, and complete them. Once completed, replace that goal with another, going through the same process.
I have carried my "Why I Work" binder for over 11 years. A couple of the goals are still out of reach, but I have completed some of them. And it has helped me recognize that the bad or uncomfortable experiences we all have to deal with have a purpose. It has helped me through times when I wanted to just skip that call or sleep in. It has also made me more aware. I now answer the question, "Why do I work?" differently. Yes, I work to pay my bills, but I also work to get that trip to Europe.
Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at email@example.com or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.
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