Can you imagine what life would be like if your Monday to Friday was just as enjoyable as the weekend (well almost!)? If you were inspired, challenged and passionate about your career?
Perhaps you’ve known for a while that you’re in the wrong job but feel stuck as you don’t know what the alternative could or should be.
A meaningful and happy career comes from finding the sweet spot where your skills and strengths are used to produce work you believe in – and get paid adequately for.
But what if you’re not clear on your natural talents or what you ‘believe in’? Here’s where to start.
1. Keep a Career Journal
A Work Journal is essentially a diary. It’s a place to log your thoughts and feelings on the work day you’ve just had. Specifically, what times during the day were you engaged and ‘ in flow ’ and conversely, when did you feel drained.
Cool, but how does this help me? Identifying moments when you’re in flow will show you the tasks that use your talents – you’re in
flow because it comes naturally! These moments may also have something to do with the environment you’re in or the people you’re working with. Either way, you should be looking for a job that mirrors these.
To journal effectively, do it once a day (before your memory becomes foggy) and stick to it for a few weeks so you can uncover the trends. Also, picking a certain time slot to become your journaling time can really help it become a habit.
2. Consider the impact you want to make
Feeling proud of your accomplishments and all your hard work is incredibly important to feel fulfilled. That’s why people often give the advice to follow your passion, even though many of us aren’t really sure what our passions are. Hmmm, not that helpful.
That’s why I think there’s a better way to approach this. Instead, ask yourself, ‘What impact do I want to make?’ Another way to think about this is to ask, ‘What legacy do I want to build with my career?’
Your answer may be related to social good and benefiting the local community or on a grander scale, working towards a national or global mission. It could also be more personal and tied to being recognized as an inspiring leader or creative influence. Basically, anything goes as long
as it excites and inspires you.
There’s one further thing to consider regarding how you make an impact: do you need to be personally on the front line or is it enough to part of a larger company team collectively making an impact? For example, you could be working within the finance department of an online education company so although you’re not doing the teaching, you’re helping ensure the company is successful and can grow to help others. Identify how ‘hands on’ you need to be.
3. Be clear on the lifestyle you want to have
It goes without saying that our jobs are intertwined with our lifestyle and define our work-life balance. Therefore, it’s really important to be clear and honest about the lifestyle you wish to have and the non-negotiables.
How important is flexibility? Perhaps you need to be able to travel regularly, work-remote, study or do the morning school run. If there’s anything that’s really essential to your happiness then feed these criteria into your search.
Another element to consider is location. Is there a specific city or environment that you want to live and work in? How far are you willing to travel for your commute?
And finally, income. Money isn’t everything (and it does not make for a career you love) but you do need to be realistic about your minimum income needs to lead the life you want. Set a numeric amount that’s your minimum to live the life you wish.
Following these three guiding principles will help direct you in your search. Have some thought? Comment below!