The recipe for developing a career you love is not what most people believe it to be. With many of my coaching clients, they come thinking that there is a “perfect job” out there waiting to be discovered and if they can just find it and present themselves in the best way to their perspective employers then voila—the start of a beautiful career is in place. Sadly, this fantasy scenario rarely plays itself out
Just as in love, where many believe that there is no one perfect mate, simply a good mutual match where both parties are interested in working and growing together, so it is true for your career. The key to success lies not in looking outside for the perfect job, rather it is beginning the process with you and what you want to create so that when a good match shows up it is a mutual process of discovery and development of a work situation that suits everyone’s needs. If you want to create a career you love here are the seven steps to get you there:
1. Identify your talents and skills: What are the three key things that you love doing and that you do very well? Be specific. Saying “I am a good communicator,” doesn’t say enough while articulating “I understand how to connect the right support people to meet the customer’s needs at the best time,” reveals much more about what you bring to the table. No one can, or should, do everything. Be clear about your strengths and let other people share theirs.
2. Know what you are passionate about: Who wants to get up everyday and work on something that doesn’t light your fire? Careers are not made in mind-numbing jobs that “pay the bills.” Figure out what you love and then find a way to make it a part of your work now—if you want a career you enjoy then you need to start doing something you enjoy everyday.
3. What change do you want to create? Everyone—yes, everyone, has something that they want to see changed in the world. It could be greater civility, world peace, or improved education, whatever it is be able to clearly state what you want to see improved in your world and connect your work to that change. While you may not be able to single-handedly rework the United States’ education system, you can as a teacher, mentor, volunteer, advocate, etc., be an active participant in positive educational change. Careers that are fun, successful and vibrant are never self-serving—they are based in service to others first and then the money, recognition and rewards come in unimaginable ways.
4. Be able to communicate who you are in 30 seconds or less: No one needs to be told the attention span of most people is now comprised of 140 characters or less. If you want to peak other people’s interest in you, be clear, be real and be succinct. If you can do that, others will be open to a more profound discussion with you.
5. Communicate who you are to everyone you meet: One never knows where the perfect opportunity is lurking, if you are consistent in communicating your message not only will you strengthen your comfort in delivering it, you may discover the person next to you in line for coffee or at the baseball game is the one looking for what you have to offer!
6. Find a way to do what you love—NOW! Too many times I have heard people say, I really what to [insert dream career] and until I have the time, money, skills, etc., I will keep doing [insert unfulfilling job]. Great chefs don’t become great being mechanics to earn money to go to cooking school—great chefs cook! While we all have to earn a living and we can’t just jump into a new career, we can start doing what we want to do now. If you want to cook, start cooking for friends each week, volunteer to cook at a local shelter, or simply make delicious meals for your family. Whatever it is, if it is truly your calling, there is no excuse for not making it a part of your life, whether or not you get paid for it at the moment.
7. Network: This is not about cold calling or pushing yourself on people; it is about looking for opportunities to discuss your passion with people who share it. My clients who created a wonderful career path for themselves, did so by opening up to a variety of opportunities and then melding their vision for themselves with the needs of others. Networking allows you to better understand what other people are looking for and how you can best meet their needs.
Leadership is love in action and there is no greater expression of love than your unique talents and skills passionately pursued in the world. Leaders don’t become so by setting out to become leaders, just as people don’t create great careers by looking for one. Each comes into their power through the expression of themselves in service to others. Everyone is capable of creating rewarding and satisfying work in their lives—the difference between those who do and those who don’t, is the willingness to be themselves and pursue what they love. In other words, leadership, pure and simple.