Most people don’t know what they want next. That’s why half of Americans say they are actively looking for a job. And why they will feel exactly the same once they’ve landed a new gig.
Doing what you love is elemental, but first, you must know what moves you.
In other words, don’t make a change before you are clear on what you want next.
Fall In Love With What You Do
“If you love what you do, it isn’t your job; it is your love affair.” ― Debasish Mridha
Do what you love or love what you do?
Which comes first?
This chicken-egg dilemma is very controversial. Some people will tell you: follow your heart no matter the consequences. Others will advise you to stick to what you are good at.
The answer lies within you. Let me help you find it.
You life purpose is more than a fad; it increases engagement at work.
50% of Americans don’t find meaning at work. And Only 34% of employees feel a strong connection to their companies mission (source: The Energy Project).
Yet, employees who derive meaning from their work outperform others; showing 1.7 X higher job satisfaction and 1.4 X higher engagement with their career.
If you do not love what you do, you will suffer from your job (and you’ll make your team suffer too).
Most people don’t leave a company; they leave their boss.
Managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement according to Gallup. If you are unhappy with what you do, you will definitely become the reason why your team wants to leave.
The truth is, there will always be a difficult boss (or client or colleague, etc.) in every job. Also, it takes two to tango. You are accountable for 50% of your relationships to make them work, as I wrote here.
Quitting is giving up because your job is difficult and you can’t “suck it up.” Moving on is knowing when enough is enough, that you need a real change.
Where do you stand?
Even those that are OK want to fall in love again with what they do.
Regardless of which path you take, what you do should fill your tank not empty it.
Get Back in ‘The Work Zone’
“You are the only real obstacle in your path to a fulfilling life.” — Les Brown
What drives passion and fulfillment is not one single thing, but a combination of various aspects.
The sweet spot lies at the intersection of your Purpose, Career, and Job. When the three are aligned, you are in the ‘Work Zone.’
Your purpose is you ‘why.’ It drives your choices in life: what you say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to. Your purpose is the North Star: it helps you focus on the big picture and on the impact you want to create. Pursuing your purpose is a lifetime job.
Your career is the pursuit of a lifelong professional ambition — it’s driven by long-term goals and built on a collection of experiences, work-related decisions, skills, knowledge, and expertise.
Your job is where you are currently working at — the company, position, role, relationships, responsibilities, salary, and what you can/ can’t do.
Happiness lies at the intersection of your job and purpose. When your job is aligned with your lifelong ‘why,’ it’s easier to feel excited about it.
Motivation lies at the intersection of your job and your career. When you are working on something that you like and that connect to your career choices, you feel energized. You feel stimulated when your job leverages your career’s experience and helps you strengthen your career too.
Fulfillment is more profound than happiness. You are achieving something more significant, not just feeling happy about what you do. You feel fulfilled when your career adds meaning to your life and is connected to your life purpose.
“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Career paths are no longer linear.
Most people will change their career at least 2 or 3 times in their life. And not just Millennials.
Job hopping is becoming more frequent (and acceptable): 45% of employees plan to stay with their employer for less than two years.
More people than ever are open to a salary cut to do something more meaningful or improve their “quality of work life.”
Retirement is no longer a destination. Neither it’s receiving a gold watch for 50 years of service to the same employees. Entire industries and professions are being disrupted and losing relevancy. As volatility increases, job stability is anything but safe.
Your ability to adapt is the new competitive advantage.
Knowing what’s next is not a luxury, but mandatory to succeed in your professional life.
Understanding What’s Next
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” — Søren Kierkegaard
Drawing your ‘Career Journey Map’ is a perfect way to uncover insights and trends.
Grab a large piece of paper and draw a horizontal line at the center. Write “My first job” on the left side of the line and “my current job” at the right side of it.
Draw a curve that captures the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ throughout your working life (the line at the center being ‘neutral’). Don’t over think it. Don’t write anything yet, just draw the curve. Be intentional with the curve. Its shape needs to capture your worst and best feelings.
Now write down what happened on each of the ‘highs’ and ‘low.” Focus more on the event that precipitated those positive or negative emotions, rather than on the job you had.
Once you finished, spend time finding the ‘why’ behind each of those peaks. Look over your list and reflect on what has been happening. Think like a journalist: “What is the news?” Be honest. Sometimes silly things or details can reveal more than you think.
Write the headline. In one sentence capture your career story. What is your ‘Career Journey Map’ telling you?
Write 3–5 bullet points to expand and support your headline.
Reflect on your findings. Find a partner to discuss your journey and help you uncover more insights (and to challenge yours).
This exercise will help you reveal what you love (and what you don’t). That’s the foundation to start exploring what’s next. This is a simplified version of the one we facilitate in career workshops, but it will get you started.
Once you know what has driven your passion throughout your career, you can start exploring possibilities. But, first, it’s important to neutralize what holds most people back from making a move.
The Two Most Common Excuses
“Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already.” — Marcus Aurelius
There are two recurring ‘excuses’ I observe when facilitating both personal and professional development programs:
What you (don’t) know
They are excuses because they shut everyone down. The moment people bring them up, they stop dreaming.
Most people use money as an excuse:
They cannot afford to lose their current job or downsize to explore a new career path. But, what happens when you remove money from the equation?
I use this “Lottery Exercise” to help remove the money excuse and connect people to what they really want to do. What most people realize at the end is that money is not the problem, lack of clarity is.
When you know what you want, it’s easier to find ways to make your dream happen.
What You (Don’t) Know Can Get You Stuck:
Most people have a hard time exploring a new career because they are stuck in their current title. Once a doctor, always a doctor. But what if you realize that you want to be a lawyer or an engineer anymore?
That is were people panic. They focus their learning on one career. Letting go of that investment (and identity) is hard.
On the other hand, those who want to explore a new path get stuck by what they don’t know. How can I become a journalist or an architect if I know nothing about it?
Well, not knowing hasn’t been an obstacle when you started your current career. For those who know, nothing is difficult as I wrote here.
How can you master something new if you don’t try it for the first time?
When you gain clarity, everything feels easier.
Once you know what you want, you can focus on preparing for achieving the career you love. Build a plan to finance your career transition. Train yourself, learn, do whatever it takes to overcome what you don’t know.
You don’t need to quit your job tomorrow.
Go ahead. Do what you love. And learn to love what you do.
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