Looking to add meaning to your career? These three steps help you to define your authentic career path.
If you feel drawn to the title of this article then I assume you have already come to the conclusion that leading an authentic career is important to you, but perhaps you wonder ‘how do I get started?’.
If you currently don’t feel content or fulfilled with your job it is likely there is a very uncomplicated reason for it. Quite simply, job dissatisfaction can be explained by a dissonance between your personal values and your professional activities. For example, you highly value creativity yet at work you spend most of your time in front of Excel spreadsheets. In this case your personal value of ‘creativity’ does not get honoured in your day-to-day at work, thus reducing the quality of your life and oftentimes also the quality of your work.
Seemingly endless options can be confusing at first
In a time in which there are as many different professions as stars in the milky way and we can redefine who we want to be on a daily basis, we can quickly be overwhelmed when it comes to answering the question ‘what do I want from my job?’. The American psychologist Berry Schwartz coined this phenomenon the ‘Paradox of Choice’ – the more choice we have the less content we actually are. (1)
Job vs. Calling
Increasingly, many people realise that status and the biggest of paychecks at the end of the month are no guarantee for happiness. Instead, they would rather like to find their calling and spend more of their time doing something that is meaningful to them. What regularly gets in the way of pursuing one’s calling is the limiting belief that only a traditional career with a standard 9-5 and 40 years in one or two companies, can be a successful career. Other people yet feel a sort of obligation to society at large, to their family, or their friends to stay in a certain job even though they cannot find any meaning in it. If left ignored, these dissonances can seriously deteriorate our personal well-being and it is important for each person to define their own authentic career path to avoid that the body eventually pulls the brakes.
Absolutely not. I accompany my Coaching Clients on their exciting journey of discovering and implementing their authentic careers, and I get to witness inspiring transformations along the way. From the Project Manager who changed industries and now feels much more fulfilled at work, to the Data Scientist who became self-employed, and the Finance Director who decided to reduce her work hours to learn how to produce music – it is possible to find your calling and pursue it. Whether you do it full time, part-time or in another shape or form is secondary for now. First and foremost it is essential to be committed to discovering your own needs, one step at a time. Once you know who you are and what you really want, the actions happen more easily than it is oftentimes assumed.
Three steps to help you discovery your authentic career pat
Step 1 – Get real with yourself
You are telling friends that your job is interesting, yet you catch yourself questioning why you are doing this work in the first place? It’s time to face the truth and be honest, especially with yourself. Does your job feel authentic to you? If not, why not? Allow yourself to accept your current situation as it is so that you can take the next steps.
Step 2 – Create your vision
We are living in a world in which it is possible to travel to the moon for leisure! Ok, perhaps not quite yet, SpaceX has announced this for 2023 only. In short, everything is possible. How do you imagine your day to be like in 10 years time? How will your professional life look like – more corporate office or self-employment, strategy or implementation (or both?), many meetings or mostly time to be creative? Take 10 minutes and zoom yourself into your ideal professional future. If you need help with this exercise, you can watch Ellen’s free Vision-Setting Masterclass here.
Step 3 – Try, try and try some more
We can only ever change our current situation by taking action. Which of your strengths do you want to strengthen, which of your interests do you want to follow up on? If, for example, you have always been interested in sustainability – who can you speak with to get more insights into this topic? Dare to try out different things. This is how you are able to quickly identify what you are truly interested in versus what only interests you in theory.
It might be challenging to identify your authentic career path and pursue it. However, it is far from impossible to make it happen and it will most certainly be worth it. Keep your calmness along the way and trust that already now, you are on the right path.
(1) Berry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice TED Talk.