Whether you’re searching for a new career path or happy in your current job, you’ve heard the phrase, “Find your purpose” many times before. We look for purpose in our lives in order convince ourselves that life is still worth living. On average during our lifetime we will spend more than 90,000 hours working, and even with an amazing paycheck, our goal in life probably isn’t to spend those hours miserable.
I had the pleasure of speaking with a potential client I’ll call Sam, who had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. At 33 years old he had achieved a six-figure salary, a corner office, and every outward appearance of success. So, what was Sam’s problem? He was miserable and no longer satisfied with the status quo. He wanted to make a difference, but had no idea in what capacity.
When a job seeker – aka purpose seeker – is miserable and have no idea what direction they want their career to go in, there’s not much I can do as a professional résumé writer and career coach. Why? Because you don’t know what you want or where you want to go. You may think, “Well, that’s what I’m paying you for. You’re the coach. Coach me into my dream job!” That thought process is valid, but without a foundation coaching sessions will end up a little bit like this:
Coach: With your skillset you would be suitable for a sales manager. How does that sound?
Coachee: Uhm, I don’t think so.
Coachee: I don’t like that.
And, that’s waste of your time and money. If you’re currently unhappy at work, no professional résumé writer, career coach, or LinkedIn profile guru will make the difference. You’ve got to give it some thought first. If you have no idea what you want the next stage of your career to be like, here are 3 tips for finding clarity before you seeking additional help.
LOOK CLOSELY AT THE BEST PARTS OF YOUR DAY OR WEEK
Among all the mundane things we do to manage our career, we forget about the things we like about our current or former jobs. Before you say, “What highlights? I hate everything about my job!” the highlights don’t have to be apart of your day-to-day job description. They can be things that you’d like to do in between what’s required of you. Make a list of the things you like the most about your career and build a potential career plan around it. For example:
Current Position: Sales representative
Highlight: Playing around with Salesforce between clients to figure out a better way to use it in order to save time during the day and improve performance.
Worst Part: Dealing with daily sales quotas and having to implement aggressive sales techniques.
Possible Career Path: Sales operations representative, sales operations manager, sales operations analyst.
How to Transition to a New Career Path: Talk with management about the possibility of transitioning to a new position at the company. Express new ideas for metrics that will identify current sales department inefficiencies. Recommend process improvements to the current system. Enlist help in order to optimize your current résumé to target sales operations.
FOCUS ON WHAT ANNOYS YOU
This may seem unnatural, but hear me out. Have you ever met someone who’s always complaining? The church choir is out of tune, the HR department is disorganized, employee trainers don’t train, etc. You name it, they have an opinion about how things should be done differently. What about you? What part of your job do you complain about the most on a regular basis? What’s that thing that grinds your gears all day long? Believe it or not, the things that annoy you the most are calling upon you to fix them or invent an alternative.
Let’s face it, everyone thinks they can do better, but it’s a whole different ball game when you’re the one in the driver’s seat handling day-to-day pressures. I suggest that you start small, and take one thing that annoy you about your current department or position. Brainstorm a plan to fix the problem. Present your plan to management for feedback, or keep it as a part of your job search arsenal in order to demonstrate your ability to identify and rectify company challenges.
TAKE A PLANNED BREAK
No, I don’t mean backpacking through Fiji, and I know not everyone can afford to take this time off, but there are ways to take a sabbatical that will allow you to step back from the constant hustle and bustle, and reevaluate your priorities. Set yourself up for this break by planning time off. Schedule a consultation with a career coach, attend a workshop/seminar in your desired field, or seek out a mentor (in person or virtual) who will tell you the truth about whether your proposed next career move makes sense.
Beyond that, a much needed break can have lasting effects on your health, and keep your horizons open to discovering other ways of living and making money. Generally, 9-to-5ers can’t see past their next pay check, and the thought of not having the security of a steady income stream is too scary to bear. I know plenty of people who work years straight without even a week’s vacation.
Sometimes, we have to let go of the familiar in order to embrace the possible. How do you plan for such break, you ask? First, look at your company policy regarding sabbaticals to see what you can and can’t do. If your company doesn’t offer such a thing, that’s fine. You’ll just have to plan better, which may involve saving more money until you’re able to make a break for it. You have to believe that your dreams are worth sacrificing for.
Check your faith meter. You’re not going to know or understand everything before it happens, and it’s going to take a level of faith on your part to know that you have to take a leap of faith in order to see any results.
It is unrealistic to think that you’re going to love everything about your career – any career path, for that matter. Trust me, your dream job will still have that 20% hassle factor, and you’ll just have to deal with it. When seeking a purposeful career path, it’s important to keep the cons in perspective so that you don’t miss out on the 80% that’s worthwhile.
Oh, and Sam? Well, he’s still at his six-figure job waiting for the light bulb to turn on and prompt him leave his corner office. Will you continue to wait for the light bulb like him?
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