My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
~ Maya Angelou
Have you been in the work-a-day world for a few years, trying hard to earn your stripes, get ahead, and build a solid base for your life and your loved ones? Are uncertainty, underemployment, and uninspiring prospects keeping you in the doldrums? Join the majority.
It used to be that getting a good education, landing a secure job, and keeping your nose to the proverbial grindstone was enough to create a happy and prosperous life. But everything is changing… social, economic, and ecological challenges are flooding our awareness. Organizations are slow to step-up – still putting profits ahead of people and the planet at a time when new answers, new technologies, and new ways of working are needed to turn a corner.
The news isn’t all bad though…society has accepted that more and more people are creating eclectic careers, preferring to move laterally, work independently, and explore multiple career paths in pursuit of challenging and rewarding opportunities.
Here is what you can do to improve the situation… take stock of how you got to where you are, what you have learned, and your true career potential. Then create a meaningful vision for how to make your best contribution in the world. Not only will this help shift your thinking from discouraged to determined, it may just open avenues that you never dreamed possible. Here is how to get started…
1) Understand how you got to where you are now
Many of us don’t have a clear understanding of who we are or where our talents and interests can take us. We started our career path based on advice from parents or teachers, or we followed our friends to college, or we bought into messaging on how the latest skills shortage could pave the way to employment.
If this is true for you… accept that you have come to know a lot about a small territory (your path) and not enough about a very big territory (all the possible paths). Reflect on all the knowledge, skills and abilities that you have gathered and document them for future use.
2) Find out who you are and what your true career potential really is
Experience is a wonderful teacher but if we haven’t had a wide range of experiences (due to age or opportunity), we probably haven’t learned all there is to know about who we are and what we are capable of. This is especially true when it comes to branching out into higher levels of responsibility and management.
If you are considering a change like making a lateral move, going independent, or pushing to get into management, find out what is real… invest the time, money and effort in a self-discovery process that will help you understand who you are (and are not) and what career directions you would excel at. Use a high-quality predictive career analytic to help you understand your natural preferences, career interests, and level of suitability against a wide spectrum of jobs so you get a sense of possible scope to your life.
3) Craft a vision for your best life
Starting with a life vision may seem counter-intuitive to solving career doldrums, but it is essential. Our behavioural preferences do much more than shape our career potential. They reflect how much importance we want to give career in our life, and how well we will manage the process of creating both our career and life path.
If you don’t have a vivid picture of your best life…use pinterest or some other medium to gather images of objects, settings, and activities that appeal…the only criteria being that the images represent what you would like to see in your life or where you could see yourself being in your life. Once you have accumulated a large collection of images, group them into themes and reflect on how closely your life matches the major themes.
4) Size-up your self-efficacy pattern and take steps to ensure success
Our behavioural preferences do much more than spell out our career suitability and success potential. They shape how well we are likely to move from intention into action to realize our best life. Envisioning, engaging, making pragmatic decisions, planning, organizing and dynamic follow-through are all essential to getting where we want to go. Knowing which aspects of this process we are likely to do well and where we will need help from others is key to realizing our dreams.
If you don’t know where you are strong and weak in terms of making things happen in your life…invest the time, money and effort in learning about your self-efficacy pattern - where your behavioural preferences are helping you succeed and what you need to do to reach past your blind spots to ensure success. Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.
Germaine Watts is a thought leader, author, speaker and co-founder of Ensentious – a consultancy and workshop/retreat provider dedicated to helping individuals, teams, and organizations thrive. As a mindfulness coach, SuccessFinder expert, and facilitator with the Centre for Courage and Renewal, she seeks to foster connection between soul and role in ways that support of personal, organizational, and societal transformation.