A few years back a question struck me – do you choose your job, or does your job choose you? I believe both occur, if we are in a healthy place in life. Every day, I’m fortunate enough to meet people who have their hearts and minds set on something. The most successful of these people, however, are the ones who have both chosen their jobs and whose jobs have chosen them. This phenomenon does not happen by chance – these people stand out because they have a vision for what the jobs will be like and how their lives will be transformed.
So hold on for just a little bit before you start looking for your next job.
You need to start by being conscious in about yourself, the kind of job that you will love doing, and the skills you bring on board . Being conscious or intentional is the difference between knowing what you want to do and where you want to go versus just showing up and doing a job everyday. True, sometimes you may get to the place you belong without consciously attempting to, but a much more effective way to succeed in your career is to be in the driver’s seat. Think about this quote from the late comedian, Bob Hope:
“I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.”
In order to steer your career in the right direction, start with these three tasks:
I. Build your Personal Inventory
I was a student of myself for many years, and in many ways, I still am! I build my personal inventory to this very day. Building your personal inventory means learning more about yourself and taking stock of where you currently stand. For instance, think about aspects like core personality traits, whether you are creative or analytical, or both. Your inventory needs to go beyond just your areas of interest or jobs that you have been successful at in the past. Let’s say you want to make the soccer team – among other preset metrics, you are probably going to be assessed on your stamina, ability to run, ability to defend, understanding of strategy, and of course ability to score goals. In the world of business, these metrics get a whole lot more complex. Here are some tools that already have a good number of built-in metrics with which to assess yourself:
- Create your personal SWOT analysis. This will tell you what your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are.
- Find out your type through a Myers-Briggs test. This assesses your personality and gives you an in-depth view of suitable career paths.
- Use a good StrengthsFinder, such as Gallup StrengthsFinder, to understand your core strengths. These do a good job of listing your core strengths that you might not even realize you had.
- Ask people you trust to give you objective feedback about yourself – both positive and negative.
- List the types of jobs/roles and industries that play to your strengths.
II. Understanding and Accepting It
Task two is probably the most difficult of your three tasks. The purpose of creating your personal inventory is to understand something very important – yourself! You need to be brutally honest with yourself, and truth be told, sometimes you may not like what you see in the inventory. Your strengths may not be what you expected, and your weaknesses may not be too flattering.
Your personal inventory will tell you who you are and what you are the BEST at doing – not that you cannot do other things, but it great to know what you are BEST at doing. Whether you like the results or not, you must try your best to understand and accept them. Once you make peace with your inventory, you can go on to the next critical step.
III. Get Moving
Once you have created your personal inventory and accepted it, you may be lucky enough find that you are already in the place where you should be. In most cases, though, you may need to start moving towards where you want to be.
Create your 25-year vision, and break it down into five-year goals. A few years back, for me it was to be elected to organizational Boards that would help me broaden my horizons and learn from people who are successful in various fields. I knew that reaching this goal would be invaluable to me in terms of my career development. Ask yourself what your five-year goal is. Once you know what your goal is, think about what needs to change in order to get there.
Take the things that are great about you and maximize them, while minimizing your weaknesses.
In an ideal world, every job you ever land will help you reach your vision. In the real world, however, a whole bunch of extraneous factors dictate the kinds of jobs we choose. The above three tasks, along with a career map that I discussed in a previous post, will at least make sure that in spite of diversions, you never stray too far away from the course you need to take.
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!