I am what you might call a “seasoned” professional. In layman’s terms – I’ve got a few years under my belt. What these years have taught me is that the more true you are to your core values and joys, the happier you will be, in both your personal and professional life. Do you know who you really are? If you are willing to ask yourself a few questions and really, truly answer them based on your heart and gut, no outside influences allowed, you will be on the road to finding joy in your career. A little hint here, these few questions may take weeks or months to answer, so have chocolate available for snacking.
What Do You Love?
Here are a few questions to kick off your internal dialogue.
- What motivates you to change and be challenged?
- What are your passions in life?
- What are your priorities?
- Are you more likely to wear a little black dress or jeans and a motorcycle jacket? (oops, sorry, wrong blog)
- What traits and characteristics do you most like about yourself?
- What is it about you that your friends and family most enjoy?
Can you translate what motivates you to change, grow and be challenged into a career path? How can you bring the things that you most enjoy about yourself to the workplace?
I actually love to organize, things, people, events, all of it. I’m totally suited to my role as project manager and consultant. Oddly, some of my friends love it that I like to take charge because I can make things happen (I just think I’m bossy), which also leads me right into my role as a consultant.
As for priorities, that is a tough one, but you need to really, really ask yourself what is most important to you? Is it your family or maybe a light schedule that requires 40 hours or less devoted to work each week? Is it that you earn enough money to buy a large home and travel regularly? Do you want to focus on giving back to your community or on a social cause as a primary lifestyle? Do you want low to no stress at work? Do you want to be a public figure? I know…it’s a lot of questions. But they are so critical.
Answer honestly. Not the way your best friend wants you to answer. Not the way your pastor wants you to answer. Not the way that you think you should answer. Answer based on the way you really, really feel.
Find Careers That Support Who You Are and What You Love
Once you’ve answered your questions you are on the way to finding your passion. And it isn’t a 24-hour exercise. Take the time you need to make your decision on what to pursue. Here is a great question to ask yourself as you’re considering opportunities, “Will I get up with energy and enthusiasm on most days?” If the answer is no, you may want to rethink accepting that job offer. Also keep in mind, that if a certain position will allow you to take steps to get you to your real passions, this may be the door for you.
Get Real with Yourself
If you want little to no stress at work, but you want a six-figure income you may have to go back to the priority exercise because those two priorities might conflict a little, I’m just sayin’. Somewhere amidst your passions and your priorities is your true calling. Dedicate yourself to finding it. It is definitely worth the effort.
We’re talking about more than a third of your waking hours here and trust me and my “seasoning” that it will take far less time to work through these weeks or months of finding your passion and your career fit than it will to get up and slog through an unsatisfying career on an ongoing basis. And while you’re getting real with yourself, please consider staying away from the naysayers that may try to push you in a different direction.
You’re the one that is going to have to wake up every day and love your job. You might just kindly tell them that you’re on a mission and need encouragement and that if they can’t provide that perhaps you can just keep this one topic off the table for a bit. Or you can be like me and tell them to stop sucking the life out of you, but I digress.
Achieving a Career Takes Time
Finding the perfect career takes a lot of time and effort. Remember to be brave and go after what you really want, not something that just “pays the bills.” Getting to know the culture of a company that you’re interviewing for is a great way to see if it’s a good fit. Go onto their social media sites, ask questions of other colleagues you’ll be working with and find out their personality types. Pay attention to the company’s benefits.
If the position isn’t your ideal position but puts you on the right path to achieve it, ask about internal promotion. Never settle for a job. If you aren’t extremely excited about the position and the future opportunities it provides, keep looking. Eventually, if you have the patience, you’ll find the perfect fit.