The Unexpected Missing Piece to A Fulfilling Career
How great would it be to have a brilliant, interesting, successful and fulfilling career?
But so often we settle for less.
“Paying the bills” “Keeping your head down” telling yourself that “I’ll figure it out later.”
It’s not just excuses that can keep you stuck….there’s often one big thing that you aren’t doing that traps you for awhile.
And that’s treating your career like a passive employee, instead of a powerful CEO.
Let’s talk about why this is not a crazy idea, and how to make magic happen, shall we? 🙂
A fulfilling career starts with being the CEO
Here’s the thing, if you are just going one from one job to another with no real plan for yourself, it’s easy to end up beaten down and tired – feeling like you are wasting your potential (you deserve more!).
Treating your career like a CEO means that you periodically step back and think to yourself: What’s my overall strategy here? Where do I need to make big investments in my skill set and my network? What’s my plan for doing that? How am I balancing my time at work and with my life? How am I making sure that I’m always working from a place of passion?
(If you are struggling with finding your passion, I’ve got a fancy-pants free guide for you right here!)
Basically, you are treating your career like a business, and taking a portfolio approach to investing it and growing it.
How to start to see the bigger picture
But how do you have this magical CEO lens to your work, you ask?
Well, there are 6 pillars of Career Fulfillment, and I want you to focus on all of them in order to ensure that what you are building for yourself and your career makes you happy.
Ready? Let’s go:
Pillar #1 is Play
It may feel weird to start with play – play feels like a luxury, no?
But new science is coming out about play which shows it builds productivity, creativity, and boosts relationships (you can see the science here). What that means for adults and our careers is that play isn’t a luxury, it’s actually a necessity.
Not only because people who don’t play sometimes become serial kills (seriously – what? But true), but also because it gives you an outlet from rigid thinking that can keep you stuck, and boosts your energy and moral.
Feeling good helps with good decision making.
And careers require good decision making!
So, it’s time for you to go outside and play – play being defined as something you do solely for pleasure, without a purpose.
What this means is that training for your next marathon does not count as play :).
Pillar #2 is Community
I love this pillar because I’m lazy, and I like to lean on others.
But I also love this pillar because it’s so important. Your network IS your career safety net. Gone are the days of pensions and staying with a company for years.
I hear story after story of people who kept their head down only to get laid off in their 50’s with rusty job skills and no idea where to go next.
I don’t want this to be you.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! Having the right people around you who can support you, cheer you on, making introductions or give advice, is huge.
C.S. Lewis said: ” The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”
Take a look at your community – are you spending time with people who motivate and support you, or you spending time with people who only feed your fears and anxiety?
And, do you have a larger network that you can call on if your job gets dull, or unstable, and you are ready for a change?
If you only do one thing this week, have a coffee with someone. It can be virtual, or it can be in person, but spend some time on building your community with someone new or reconnecting with an old friend. It only has to take 30 minutes (you’ve got 30 minutes – no worries!).
Pillar #3 is Strategy
Strategy means a lot of things, but in terms of your career I like to think of it as journey’s end. It’s where you are going in the next year, next 5 years, and next 10 years.
A more fun way to think of it is as your ideal work – something that you don’t have right now necessarily, but an inkling that you can work towards.
Sit down and write down some of your dream scenarios.
Look at photos on Pinterest or make some drawings if you are more visual.
Or sit in a chair, take a few deep breathes, and just think.
What do you imagine? What do you see? (If you struggle, get out there and play for a few minutes and have some fun! It’ll help reset you).
You may have no freaking idea about where you want to be in 5 years or even in 5 months, and that’s okay. Just allow yourself to daydream about little things like if you are working outside, or inside.
If you have a commute, or don’t.
If you are in a boardroom, or in your living room.
Or maybe you have a secret dream you don’t like to talk about involving a specific job or goal – like “I’m going to be VP of my company” – that’s great too!
Write it all down so you can take a look.
Pillar #4 is Passion
I don’t start here because it’s often too hard for folks to make the leap from “Ugh, I hate this job” to “Yay! I LOVE WHAT I DO AND I HAVE A PASSION!!”
Years of thinking a certain way or feeling down about yourself can make it hard.
But, you’ve played, you’ve started to hang with people, and you’ve daydreamed about what is possible.
Now let’s talk about that thing that fuels you, which is your passion.
People often make the mistake of thinking that passion is a specific job, which can kill your progress for several reasons. If there’s only one specific job in the ENTIRE WORLD that will make you happy, what if you can’t get it? Or what if you never figure out what it is? There are millions of jobs out there – it’s overwhelming!!
Let’s all take a deep breath and get off our fainting couches for the moment :).
It’s going to be okay.
Finding your passion takes time, and effort (here’s a free workbook to help get you started if you need it!). But you can kick-start the process by focusing on two things: What topics you are both interested in and engaged with?
Interested means you read about it or think about it. Engaged means you take action.
So, for example: I’m both interested in and engaged in chocolate (I have a passion for chocolate!). I read about it online and in books, and I taste it, cook it, and take chocolate tours when they are on offer.
You might be interested and engaged in health – you practice healthy eating and read a lot of blogs on being a vegan, and you find yourself working on growing a vegetable garden. You probably have a passion around building health, and there are many jobs that fulfill this passion like being a health coach, owning a blog on health, getting into formal medicine, or become a chef.
Just as an example :).
If you struggle with interest + engagement, take a look at your browser history and see what it tells you!
Pillar 5 is investment
Okay, let’s talk about balance and growing your career.
Where are you investing your time right now?
Are you investing it in things that help you stay balanced and also benefit your work?
Most of us are out-of-balance.
We are working too hard, not sleeping enough, and definitely not making regular investments in our skills and learning beyond the day-to-day of the job.
But, once you are working from a place of passion, and are working a strategy, it becomes SO MUCH EASIER to make smart investments.
Have a passion for numbers and want to someday be the head of the US Treasury? Then it’s easy to see that spending time investing in your leadership skills and focusing on building your community in that arena is a good start for now.
Before you stress out about where to invest, just take a look at your calendar and figure out where you are wasting your time.
What are you doing that doesn’t contribute to your happiness or well-being? Take a look and start to get a handle on it. That’s your first step to figuring out where to invest in the future.
And that brings us to …
Pillar #6: Planning
Nothing happens without some sort of action, so your plan is your way to make sure you take some action! 🙂
If the strategy is the end of the journey, the plan is the map for how to get there.
I’m a fan of putting together a really concrete plan full of small steps like: “Write 2 blogs this week” and “Research 2 conferences to pitch as a speaker.”
What are some small steps you can outline to help you make progress in your career?
Write down 3 concrete things you can do this week – no matter how small.
Now, go and do them!
Want more help?
I’m running a free summer series on how to build a passion-fueled and fulfilling career and you are invited! Each week via email we’ll deep dive into one of the pillars and you’ll have a clear action to take.
You can join the community and get access right here.
I’ve found that it’s much easier to make progress when you’ve got a structured and focused approach to your learning, so that’s what this series is about.
Don’t miss out, sign up here (so we know where to send the emails!)