Are you truly happy and fulfilled in your career? Do you wake up with a sense of excitement when heading off to work? Are you making the money and the impact you want to make at work and with your customers, given your experience, skills and talents? If not, maybe it’s time to reinvent your career path and actually design your ideal career. Yes, it is possible because dreams don’t have a shelf life.
This happens all the time. Whether it’s after you graduate or leave high school or graduate from college, at some point, you fall into a job either by choice or by necessity. However, since you’re new to the workforce, you may not always know for certain if this is the right job for you. Sure, you know you need to make money. Unfortunately, when money, time, ego, financial stress, bills, pressure from those around you or urgency become the driving factors, we then make decisions based on need rather than by choice.
This urgency forces us to react to what is available in the job market, rather than taking a step back to first define who we are, what we really want and how to align our strengths, gifts, personality and most important our lifestyle, values and integrity with the ideal career that would complement rather than be in conflict with your life, personal goals and aspirations.
To compound this tragedy, fast forward a few years. Other events, such as getting married, having children or purchasing a home further implant your feet within a career that you feel less and less at choice around changing, reinventing or leaving. Or, maybe it’s because of an internal re-org, acquisition, a change in market conditions or even being laid off that altered the parameters, possibilities and growth opportunities surrounding your career. Regardless, due to the daily pressures you’re faced with, you feel you need a job and an income, fast.
Additionally, there are many people who spend their entire career jumping from job to job, trying to blindly fit into a position that was never a fit for them in the first place. Regardless, the common denominator in all of these scenarios as to why people often wind up in the wrong job is a lack of clarity around what the right job would look like. And this lack of clarity around what we really want pushes us to make a reactive decision based on need rather than choice.
After coaching thousands of people throughout my career, regardless of the reason as to why most people are unhappy at their job or want to change careers, I have found that there is one thing most people have in common. That is, less than 1% of the people I have worked with ever took the time to outline what their ideal career would even look like.
Employee Engagement Is Every Company’s Achilles’ Heel
An Achilles’ heel is a deadly weakness. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common; employee engagement, for one. As such, in spite of the overall strength and profitability of any company, the level of employee disengagement present in today’s workforce can lead to any company’s demise.
Gallup, the Washington, D.C.-based polling organization, gathered information in a recent study from 230,000 full-time and part-time workers in 142 countries. Bottom line; there are twice as many “actively disengaged” workers in the world as there are “engaged” workers who love their jobs.
Overall, Gallup found that only 13% of workers feel engaged at work and in their career. That means they feel a sense of passion for their work, a deep connection to their company, their co-workers and leadership. They love what they do and have the opportunity to drive innovation, collaboration and move their company forward. The vast majority, some 63% of workers are “not engaged,” meaning they are unhappy and fairly disconnected from their company, peers and boss. They work in a state of mediocrity, just trying to get through their days without even considering ways to find more meaning in their job or ways to improve their performance and the impact they can make at work.
Finally, 24% of those workers surveyed are what Gallup refers to as, “actively disengaged.” These are the people who for the most part, hate their jobs for a variety of reasons; their role and responsibilities, the company, their management, product or service, customers, and so on. This population of workers can have the most detrimental impact on the overall state of the company and its culture. These people are the ones who I refer to as the ‘snipers.’ These are the consummate complainers who often create problems, conflict and dissension amongst the team, to the point where they even sabotage what their peers and co-workers are trying to achieve. And this includes management as well! This type of employee often works against others within their company or team. This type of worker can rarely, if ever, be satisfied. They breed more negativity and justify their toxic behavior because of “what their company has done to them, taken from them, or the unrealistic expectations placed on them.”
At this point, everyone suffers; the dissatisfied employee, management, the company and ultimately; your customers as well as your brand and reputation. Basically, 87% of workers worldwide who, as Gallup puts it, “are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive.” For these workers, they often get to a point of accepting, “this is just how it is,” and consequently tolerate their job and the environment they work in. Rather than experiencing fulfillment from their job, work is more often a source of toxicity, stress and frustration for nearly 90% of the world’s workers.
But there’s an even greater cost here. Consider how this affects your lifestyle, your health, your overall happiness, your family and your children. Not only does this impact how you now engage with people outside of work and then at home but think about the message you may be sending to others when it comes to choosing and managing a career; specifically, your children.
While there is a great cost to companies when the majority of employees do not feel fully integrated and aligned with the company vision and culture, there are things companies can do about this. However, as an employee, rather than waiting around for things to change for the better, consider the things that are in your power and what you can you do to improve your position, income, mindset and overall fulfillment in your career?
While there are opportunities present to improve the conditions in your current job, you may be at the point where you have the evidence and confidence that it’s time to leave. If so, the first step before you even start searching for your next career is to know exactly what you really, really want and what you’re looking for. Otherwise, how will you know when you find it?
Since your career takes up a heavy percentage of the limited and precious time we have; for a happy, balanced life, it’s essential to find something that is rewarding, satisfying, brings you joy and affords the lifestyle you want to create for yourself and our family. Yes, this is possible.
This Isn’t Your Practice Life
I remember many years ago after graduating college and working in corporate America. Soon after working for this global sales organization, I made a decision to exercise my entrepreneurial muscle and start a business with a few partners. Things were going well, but I wasn’t happy. Then one day, I read one of the first articles about performance coaching back in the mid ‘80’s. It wasn’t long after that I sold the portion of my business to my partners to become an executive sales coach and further pursue my dream to be a writer.
Did I choose this career path because of the money I thought I could make, the prestige of the position or its level of security? Not at all. Besides, the coaching industry was so new, no one had even heard of this type of profession outside of sports. So I certainly didn’t make this choice because of the financial security it offered. I became a coach and author because it was aligned with my core values, and my passion for wanting to support and assist others in making their careers and lives more successful and fulfilling; beyond what they thought was even possible for themselves.
I remember the first year or so after opening up my new practice, how my income was cut dramatically. Yet, it wasn’t long after that my business took off, and I never, ever looked back. Why? Because I was happy. I was making a difference. I was honoring my integrity and core values. I was doing something that measurably impacted people’s lives. I woke up excited about what new possibilities could be created each and every day. I was able to pick and choose the people I really enjoyed working with. And most important, I designed my practice and career around my lifestyle, rather than trying to fit my life into my career.
For me, I feel so fortunate to have found my ideal career and now I’m going to share with you some of the questions that helped guide me to this career path as an author and as a coach.
Design Your Ideal Career First, Then Attract It
Below is a list of questions that will assist you in discovering the ideal career for you. The thinking behind this is, create it first, then attract it. Have fun with this! In other words, don’t get hung up on what you think is feasible, available or possible or what you feel you ‘should’ do. Just create what you want most without any self-imposed limitations.
Remember, as you respond to these questions, the objective is to design your ideal job. So, imagine your career as a blank canvass and you can paint and design your career any way you want in an ideal world, rather than either describing your current or past job, how you’d want your current job to change or what you feel is realistic or attainable. Even though some characteristics may overlap, that’s perfectly fine. Here we go:
- How many hours in a typical workday?
- What is your desired income and what is your minimum required income?
- Who are the people you are working with?
- What type of clients do you want to serve?
- What type of product/service do you want to offer?
- What is your day filled with or what type of activities are you responsible for?
- What type of industry?
- What is the level of autonomy?
- What type of growth opportunities exist?
- What kind of manager do you want to work with (if any)? What’s that person’s management style?
- What are your co-workers like (if any)?
- What benefit/incentive package is offered?
- What type of environment/corporate culture do you thrive in (fast paced, stressful, relaxed, quiet, flexible and so on.)
- What are you passionate about?
- What type of career would be a reflection of your personality and who you are?
- How does your career complement your lifestyle?
- What are the demographics of your clients and co-workers?
- What are your strengths and talents that you would like to orient your career around?
- What do you do great?
- What don’t you like to do?
- What needs to be present in order to make a smooth transition (from your current position) and be financially responsible with the least amount of risk or error? Tip from the coach: If you’re currently working, make sure you create a detailed transition strategy so you have a path to follow and what you need to do before leaving your current job and transitioning into your ideal one.
- Who do you have in your circle of influence to support you through this transition? (Family, friends, coach, etc.)
- Who do you need to be (or become) in order to achieve, create or succeed at this? What assumptions do you need to challenge? What part of your attitude and mindset needs to change for the better?
- What are the fears or limiting thinking that’s keeping you from moving forward without hesitation? What is going to prevent you from manifesting this in your life?
- How do you need to change in order to attract and create this opportunity into your life? Are their limiting beliefs you’re harboring about yourself, others, industry, profession, and so on?
- What skills do you need to further develop or master in order to excel in a position like this?
- What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
- Where do you work? (Geographic location, office, home office, travel, and so on.)
- If you didn’t have to work, what, if anything would change regarding your responses to the questions above? If there was nothing to change, congratulations! You’re on your way to designing your ideal career.
Once you’ve completed part one and answered all of the questions, now it’s time to move into the second part of this exercise. Looking at your responses to the questions above, make a separate bulleted list of all of the factors and characteristics that need to be present for you that make up the perfect career for you. This can include but is not limited to working for an ethical/honest company, great boss, being happy, autonomy, fun, making a difference, making an impact, flexibility, travel/no travel, office location, having the premier product or service in your industry, learning from the people you work with, collaboration, your daily responsibilities, minimum income requirements, and so on. Then, most important, star or circle the ones that are non-negotiable. That is, if these factors are not present, it’s a deal breaker.
Dreams Don’t Have a Shelf Life
I never said answering these questions was going to be easy. After all, it may be some time since you’ve tried to rekindle an old dream. So, look on your shelf. Find where you’ve stored your dreams of yesterday. Take those dreams down and place them in front of you. Dust them off. You’ll be surprised how quickly and how well your dreams retain their luster, because it’s never, ever too late.
Honor the Universal Law of Attraction
A simple, yet timeless belief. When you know what you want, have a clear vision of what you want and then focus on what it is you really want, then you have a greater chance of manifesting it into in your life. Conversely, when you continue to focus on what you don’t want, don’t like or don’t need, you are now investing all of your energy into what you want to avoid. Subsequently, because you are focusing on what you don’t want, then what you don’t want is what you’ll wind up continually attracting into your life.
So, if you know what you don’t want, but you’re not sure what you really do want, especially as it relates to your career, then your dreams and goals can’t stand a chance. So, take the time to search within yourself to answer this question. Listen to your heart, your hobbies, your strengths, creativity, dreams and passions. Then, design your ideal career. If you do this first, you will have a greater chance of attracting and creating that next career opportunity which you want most into your life.
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