According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median length of time a worker stays at a job is 4.1 years. Even when you adjust for my personal demographics, less than half of men my age have been at their current job for 10 years or more.
This month marks my 25th anniversary at State Bank of Cross Plains. Believe it not, I still love going to work every day. In fact, I haven’t taken a sick day in 25 years!
When someone pointed out that my experience is not necessarily the norm, I thought perhaps sharing my perspective about work might help others find more joy in their jobs.
A How-To Guide for Loving Your Job
You might think I’m going to say you can love any job if you approach it with the right attitude. You would be wrong.
You also might say that it’s easy to love your job when you’re the boss, but the secret I’m about to share applies to any job in any industry. I started out at SBCP as a commercial lender, hired to drum up business for the bank’s brand new-at-the-time Middleton office, which was a completely novel service area for us, with no existing customers or portfolio of business.
In truth, I tried similar jobs at other organizations before I came to State Bank of Cross Plains, but they didn’t match my personality. At all.
My real advice is, find the job that matches your personality and your priorities. It is all about finding the right fit for you as an individual.
The secret to finding that perfect match? Know your core values. When I first started out, I took a job at a large regional bank in the Milwaukee area. Being raised by generations of community bankers – my grandfather, father, and brother were all community bankers – this was the first time I really understood that not all banking was the same.
Despite holding the same title in the same industry – just two different types of banks – I went from not knowing how I could make an impact at my first job to feeling like I perfectly belonged here.
The trick to taking advantage of this secret to success is figuring out your personal set of core values. Clearly, I didn’t know mine when I took my first job. Understandably, this is a process that takes time and experience and a huge dose of self-awareness.
So, where do you start? Consider some of the following:
- Challenge. Some people like to solve problems. Others prefer the predictability of routine. For example, an ER physician might enjoy the challenge of not knowing what to expect on their next shift, while an anesthesiologist goes through the same steps every time with at least slightly more routine built into their work. Personally, helping people overcome challenges is one of my core values. I have enjoyed the challenge of helping people during times of financial difficulty.
- Family time. I started working at SBCP in late November 1995. On December 10 – I remember it so clearly – I walked into a half-empty office and asked where everyone was. My boss explained that the local elementary school was holding its Christmas play that day. All of my colleagues were watching their children perform. I was shocked that they could all just leave in the middle of the day for something that seemed so trivial. However, that moment forever shaped the way I view the balance between home life and work life. “Being there” for my family is now one of my core values.
- Purpose and impact. You might find purpose from your job. You might find purpose from having a job that enables volunteerism. I was raised in a family where community involvement and volunteering were almost daily activities. I didn’t know any other way. So now, I feel blessed to have the opportunity, through my work, to participate in neighborhood activities and events, as well as volunteer my time toward causes important to creating a vibrant, thriving community.
Then and Now
I can’t write an article about working at the same company for 25 years without a few amusing then-and-now comparisons.
- Back in 1995, I was hired as the bank’s 77th Since then, we have grown to 265 people.
- Then, we had 4 locations – in fact, we had just expanded to 4 locations. Now, we have 15 locations spread across three counties.
- Twenty-five years ago, banks were all about teller lines inside lobbies, ATMs were just starting to gain popularity, there were no debit cards, and most currency was handled by paper check. These days, plastic is the most common way to spend money, and digital is gaining ground fast. Especially with the restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, people are now handling much of their banking online or using an app on their smartphone.
- Banks are measured by the total assets they take care of. We have grown from $140 million to $1.5 billion – with a B.
- My personal life has changed dramatically also! My wife and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage this year. But perhaps the biggest change is that we now have 5 children, including two sets of twins.
With all that change, it’s nice to know that some things do still stay the same. Regardless of total assets, our bank remains grounded in authentic relationships and personal service. We believe that it will always be important to treat people the way that you, yourself, would want to be treated. And, personally, despite my family growing exponentially, I still live in the same house I moved into 25 years ago!
Find Your Fit, Find Your Fun
My dad used to say, “Find something that gets you excited to put your feet on the ground every morning.” To be honest, most of my thoughts about work and my attitude about life are the result of wise words from my father. He used to shower me with advice when we were fishing, whether I asked for it or not. I think he enjoyed the captive audience a small boat on a quiet lake provided.
Of course, he knew what he was talking about. Funny, but true: A member of our HR team had to remind me that it was my 25-year anniversary. I guess time flies when you’re having fun!