by Joan Elmore

What’s really in it for you when you go to work?

Do you show up there because it gives you everything your parents told you the perfect occupation would offer? Is this job what you pictured as a kid, when grown-ups were asking what you wanted to be someday? Is what you’re doing now what you went to school for – and if so, does it live up to all the expectations you had while you waited to graduate?

It might be everything you’ve always wanted, and it might not even come close, but today I want to tell you something I never heard about in school, or from my parents, or in my conversations with friends while we all shared our dreams for the future:

Your current job has so much for you. You can use the job you have now as a tool for achieving anything you want for your life, and you can do that no matter what the job is, how you feel about it, or how long you plan to stay there.  Your job is a school; a place for non-stop personal development, and a buffet of opportunities.

Just think about everything you experience when you go to work.  You get there on days when you are one-hundred-percent not in the mood.  You have to care about and solve problems for your boss and customers, even when you have way bigger things to worry about in your personal life.  You have to work with people you might never choose to hang out with outside of this place.  You’re constantly put in positions that make you uncomfortable, or intimidated, or ready to throw your rolling chair through the window.

And you find out that someone you work with is actually fun to talk to. You deal with a monster client and stay so syrupy-sweet and helpful that she’s gushing about her love for the company and practically eating out of your hand when she leaves. You surprise yourself by accepting an assignment you didn’t feel ready for – and then thrill yourself with how well you do. And you get through a day where every single thing hit the fan, and you’re able to keep your cool and come to the rescue.


So many of my highest highs and lowest lows have been work-related, and it took me so long to see how much value that held. The good stuff, the bad stuff, and the mundane Tuesday stuff – all of it offers priceless lessons, and ways to develop skills and character traits that can make you into whoever you want to become.

And you get paid for it.  Think about that! You go to a place that gives you hands-on, live training for your own personal development, and you get paid for your time.


You don’t go to work for your boss, or your paycheck, or for the possibility of benefits, or to qualify for whatever reward your company might decide to give you at some point. And you don’t go because your scope of work is exactly what you’ve dreamed of since you were four, or because someday you might get to take your manager’s place, or because you have a passion for giving great service that just won’t quit.

 Your job offers you something so far beyond all that, and now you’re going to use it, and start making your time at work work for you.


It takes deliberate, planned action. You can’t just show up on time and be fantastic in your role. We all know people who do that, and they aren’t all thrilled with where they ended up after those years of dedication. You want to walk into work everyday with your own purposeful plan, knowing exactly what it’s for and where it’s taking you.

  • You’ll start by making a plan for this job. You will identify exactly what you want for your life, exactly who you need to become to have that life, and then you’ll pick your job apart for every connection to make, thing to learn, skill and trait to develop, opportunity to find out about, and advantage to take.
  • Every time you go into work you’ll follow your plan, and you’ll stay alert the whole time, so you won’t miss any chances to get better and get more.
  • You’ll give your best at work, every single day you’re there, and now it’ll be fun and satisfying because you’ll know it’s all for you. The more you give, the more you can take, so you’ll be purposeful about developing confidence in yourself; about studying and practicing the skills and traits you need; about learning your company’s goals and how you can deliver them; about working well with your coworkers, your boss, and your clients; about increasing your accuracy and productivity; and about understanding and supporting the sales, collections and profits for your company.


You’ll be happy and fulfilled at work – no matter how you really felt about it before, and even if you’re not planning to stay there. You will go in with your own secret mission, and it will be so satisfying.  You’ll be challenged by your work and it will have meaning – no matter what it actually is.

Your boss, coworkers and clients will love having you there. Everyone you work with and for will benefit from the actions you’re taking – even through everything you’re doing is for you and your own  development and goals.

And the best part of all is who you will become. When you really start taking everything your job has to offer and using it this way, it’ll put your personal development on steroids. You’ll develop the skills and character traits you need for achieving your biggest goals. And you’ll become confident, more resilient, better at problem-solving, better at finding opportunities, better at seeing the good. You’ll become someone who can make things happen.


  • Identify a big goal you have for yourself and your life.
  • Think about who you need to become in order to achieve it, and write down the skills and character traits you’ll need to
  • Pick one skill and one character trait to start working on first, and circle both of those.
  • Every single day, when you’re outside of work, study how to become/develop those two things you identified. Don’t give yourself a quota at all for how much time you have to spend studying, and don’t feel like you have to strap yourself to a chair with a textbook. Listen to a podcast or a video while you make the bed, or do the dishes, or fix your car, or drive to work, or wait for your dinner to heat up in the microwave. Fit in your study-time at some point during the day when you’re getting something necessary done that doesn’t require your concentration.
  • When you’re at work, keep what you’re learning in mind, and look for ways to learn more while you’re there. There will probably be plenty of conversations, situations and experiences that apply to what you’re studying, and you’ll want to recognize them for what they are.
  • Every time you’re at work, practice having the skill and attribute you’re studying. And your job will give you such perfect practice! The good, the bad and the ugly will all give you fantastic opportunities to sharpen your skills, and you’ll want to take advantage of all of them. Sometimes you’ll do well at it, sometimes not at all, and you’ll remember what you did when you were six, so you can keep picking your bike up and getting back on.
  • Once you feel ready to tackle a new skill and trait, go back to Step 3 and repeat from there.

Want to know what you need, to truly be happy?

Progression. You thrive on it as a human; I do too, and so does everyone else.  Progression is what’s in it for you at work, and I can’t wait for you to see how much your experience there transforms when you take it!

About the Author of this blog Joan Elmore:

Joan Elmore

Joanie is a part-time employee with a mission to end the Sunday Night Blues and start a new way of working. She uses what she’s learned from her experience to help employees have happiness, fulfillment, and high-performance in their jobs, with a revolutionary approach to goal achievement. Learn more at:

Her books, Use Your Job: A 90-Day Challenge, and As Its People: A 90-Day Challenge, are available in paperback or Kindle at: