Many people know exactly what they want to do with their lives and careers. They are pretty good at getting the most out of their careers, as they are clear about their needs are. They are also clear about what has to happen to ensure sure that those needs are met. Secretly, most of us envy people who seem to have it all figured out.
Clarity is not an Accident
Not everyone is clear or certain about what they want from life. If this is true for you then its pretty certain that your career in some way reflects that uncertainty. Like Anne Tylers book The Accidental Tourist, many of us could identify with the description the Accidental Careerist. Like falling into a career, we often stumble along in our early careers as we are not sure what it is we are doing or what it is we want from our career. It takes courage and responsibility to stop and say, OK, this is not working lets see what I need to do. With much time already invested and sometimes the burden of added responsibility its easier to let things drift and hope for the best. We get good at fooling ourselves with statements such as “sure it could be worse, or “sure it pays the bills”, etc. But in this situation, deep down inside we are unhappy with our career.
Reasons why we stumble along.
There are lots of reasons why we stumble along. If we have stopped to reflect, then some of the following thoughts are probably sounding familiar. “It wasn’t my choice, my parents, my teacher, etc., though I would be good at it”. “Its felt like the right job at the time, anyway there was nothing else available”. “I didn’t get the educational opportunities, and I needed something steady with money”. “All my friends were going to that college, and I was expected to get a degree, any degree”. “I didn’t get the points so it wasn’t my first choice course or college”. There are lots of reasons why we end up in our first job, or our first career, but there is only really one reason we stay with it. We believe that we have no other choice.
How do we get out of these situations. How do we move from having a job to having a career we are proud of. By the way, I am not talking about running corporations, or being the next CEO of a fortune 500 company. Some of us are quite happy to enjoy or work, enjoy being with our colleagues and having enough money to pay for the little luxuries in life. Most of us are not looking to change the world. How we get out of an unfulfilling career, that feels like its going no where, is also about how we feel and believe about our life in general. How we handle the challenges in life is a good indicator of how well equipped we are to make changes and turn our career around. If you look back on your personal history and look at the challenges you have faced and overcome it will provide a pretty accurate prediction of what can happen next. By that I mean, what your chances are of making your dreams come true, and having the life you want, the career you want. Knowing what to avoid helps. This of course doesn’t mean that its all going to happen over night, or the Universe is just going to hand it all to you.
Getting the Career You Want.
Turning your career around requires a number of things but before you do anything you really need to ask yourself what it is you want from your career and life. That sounds like a pretty big order, but in reality if you are not setting out to change the world then the list although daunting is probably not that big. You can answer it with three questions,
- What are my values
- What am I passionate about in life
- What was I good at when I was a child/teenager.
The answer to what you want from a career can emerge from answering those three questions, and the potential combinations those answers provide.
Using Belief and Emotion to get the Career you Deserve
Belief is an important part of achieving any goal, and also in building your self confidence. Knowing what you want for your career and from your career are important issues. The ability to carry out the daily tasks, week to week consistently is what builds your ability to believe in achieving your career plan. As a famous man once said, Fail to plan, then plan to fail. While there is a mountain of information on building confidence very little is written about the emotional intelligence required to be successful. Few significant people talk about the emotional energy behind their belief and how important that emotion and energy is. In the career debate about passion versus pragmatism in guiding your career what often gets over looked is the difficulty in sustaining the effort, sometimes not just over months or years, but over decades. Again, there is no such thing as overnight success. Very few significant athletes, or business people use the word deserve, but behind the hard work, the personal investment over years, deep down is a sense that they have deserved. Emotional intelligence is as important as self belief. In building your career, knowing and believing that you deserve better and deserve success may be a good place to start.