How to Boost your Career by Nailing the Job at Hand

I crave challenge and growth. I don’t like to stagnate. As a result, I'm constantly looking ahead to the next challenge. Growth and progression is a good thing, right? However, I heard some simple advice that has caused me to reconsider how I think about growth.

State Leadership: An Opportunity for Global Action: Michael Froman: Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi has been the CEO of Pepsico since 2006. She joined the company in 1994 and was promoted to President and CFO in 2001 before her promotion to CEO. She is rated among the top CEO’s in the world.

Her simple explanation for her career success is this: nail the job at hand.

She has given variations of similar advice in several venues, including Howard University and the UT Austin McCombs School of Business.

She’s saying focus on doing your very best in your current job or responsibility or circumstances. Don’t worry about your next job or the following one, which distracts you from nailing your current responsibility. If you nail the job at hand, the future will take care of itself.

As someone who likes to plan for the future, this advice hit me hard. I’ve been thinking about how I can do a better job of nailing the job at hand, and here are some ideas:

1. Stop the “I’ll be happy when” cycle

Sometimes we focus on the future because we are not content with the present, and we think each new step will make us happy. We’re all guilty of this. I’ll be happy when I’m out of high school and have more freedom. I’ll be happy when I’m done college and have a real job. I’ll be happy when I get married. I’ll be happy when I’m promoted. I’ll be happy when my business has more stability.

Eventually we should recognize that progression is good, but if we’re not content now, we won’t be content in the future. The way to be content with the present is to make the most of it.

Enjoy nailing the step at hand, and then enjoy nailing the next step of the journey.

2. Be grateful 

Gratitude has a powerful effect on your present state of mind.

Gratitude has a backward-looking component to it. We should take time once in a while to look back and realize how far we have come. We can be grateful for the people and circumstances that have helped us get there.

Looking back helps us be grateful for the stage we are at now.

3. Schedule time for future-focused thinking

I don’t think Nooyi is saying we should never think about the future. I believe she is saying we shouldn’t let future-focused thinking distract us from nailing the job at hand. We can limit our tendency to get distracted by the future by scheduling time to think about it.

Almost three years ago I read Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan ebook and spent a lot of time putting my life plan together. I identified the major areas of my life, and for each area I wrote down my purpose statement, envisioned future, supporting statements, current reality, habits, and goals.

Hyatt recommends setting aside time once per week to review your life plan. I schedule time every Sunday morning to review my goals and make sure I’m moving toward them. I give myself permission to think about the future and whether or not I need to make any course corrections. I need to do a better job of limiting my future-focused thinking to once per week while nailing the job day-to-day.

Nail the job at hand

As we nail the job at hand, our future will take care of itself. It worked for Indra Nooyi, and it can work for us.

Question: How do you nail the job at hand? 

"IndraNooyiDavos2010ver2" by Jeff Bedford from Arlington, Virginia, United States - posted to Flickr as Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO, Speaking at the World Economic Forum 2010 Annual Meeting. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -