When I was a goal coach at Lululemon Athletica I had the opportunity to do a lot of career coaching with people who were in college, who were committed to taking on new roles in leadership and ones who needed to transition to another career.
Knowing how to set goals during this period is vitally important and I cover that in my book which you can find by clicking here. For today we are focused on determining what your ideal career could be.
How many careers should a person have on average in their lifetime? I have no idea because all I care about is helping you find the right career for you. That one career you want to stay at forever because you love it so much you would do it for free (just don’t tell your boss that).
My theory about careers is that if all the people who were unhappy with their career would just quit it would make room for the people who would love that career. Then there would be careers open for those that quit that they would love. Like a career exchange program.
Have you had the experience before where you would love a certain career and you know first-hand the person who has it could care less about it? You see I believe that the right career is out there for everyone and unhappy people are clogging up the career pipeline for everyone else.
These career cloggers cost companies millions of dollars a year and potential employees that could change the face of their organization. Don’t be hard on them because you are most likely in the same position.
Before we explore how you can discover the right career for you I want to address something you may be doing either consciously or unconsciously and it may not turn out quite how you think it will.
I want you to be proactive in determining the career you want to have and not commit what I call career suicide. My definition of career suicide is:
The act of consciously choosing to do things that you know lower your personal performance, and purposefully go against the goals of the company while blaming everyone else for your unhappiness to the point where you force your leader to take action and terminate you.
People who do this usually feel trapped in their career due to the external obligations they feel they will fail to make if they leave. They believe they cannot take the risk of quitting yet are setting themselves up to be fired. Why not keep the control of when and how you leave your career?
Start setting goals, researching and applying for other careers. Acknowledge you have been choosing to do things you know could get you fired. Just because you are unhappy with where you are is no excuse to not perform with excellence.
Setting goals will honestly improve your performance because you will start to create a plan on a way out. This feeling of freedom will reflect on your happiness.
I want you to control when your career ends so life doesn’t force you into action by you getting fired before you were “ready” to leave making you feel like you need to take the first career that comes along so you can pay the bills. This almost guarantees you will end up in a career you don’t love all over again.
There is the possibility you are unconsciously behaving in ways that are not conducive to a long prosperous career because if you tell yourself you hate your career every day then you most likely act like you hate your career every day.
Identify What You Love vs. Don’t Love
Before you decide to tell your employer to take their job and shove it let’s take some time to discover why exactly you feel the need to do that. If you don’t take the time to do this step you may find you end up in the exact same style of career you want to leave.
How do you avoid getting the exact same career you just left being that is the industry you were trained in? I mean if you are a nurse just switching hospitals will not mean you won’t see blood anymore.
You can clarify your ideal career by determining what you love doing every day and what you don’t love doing every day. This sounds simple because it is. Grab your journal and make two columns, love and don’t love.
The key here is to not include your boss or Negative Nancy on the list because you can’t control the people you work with every day no matter where you go. Focus only on the details of the career. If you are a nurse maybe your list looks like:
• Love – being hands-on with people, dynamic work environment, paperwork
• Don’t love – blood, sick people, shift work
Once you have your list made you can take a step back and see why you may not love the career you have. You will become clear on what you love to do and discover you can do it without being a nurse at all.
You can also determine now which of the things you don’t love that you are willing to accept because most of our dream careers will have a few of them but the great things will outweigh them.
The point of determining the reasons why you love your career is so that you can replace it easily when needed. We all know the days of staying at the first career you chose until the day you retire are pretty much gone.
By being fully aware of what made the last career feel so satisfying you can replicate it again and again. You know what you want and you can clearly dictate it when accepting offers from employers. There is nothing wrong with asking them how they would describe their current leadership style or the culture of the company. Ask how often you will be performing duties that are on the don’t love list so you can make an informed decision. Don’t present it as a negative but along the lines of requesting a job description. You are interviewing them as much as they are you.
By choosing not to ask the right questions even though you are fully aware of what you want it is possible to end up with a career you hate all over again.
I understand that changing careers can be a stressful choice even when you have a great offer on the table because you are leaving what you already know and understand or in other words leaving your comfort zone.
If you are staying at a career that takes away your happiness because you don’t want to be seen as a quitter or you were always told to stick it out, get over it. Consciously choosing your happiness is not quitting it is excelling at life.
Take Action Request:
If you feel a career change is needed then identify what you love vs. what you don’t love currently and start researching careers that fit who you are. Seek out people in the professions that you are curious about. Don’t just ask what they do for a living, ask what exactly they do for a living. Step out of your comfort zone and discover the world of possibility that awaits you.
Your Life Your Choice Your Design
P.S. – If at any time you said to yourself “easier said than done” I want to assure you that doing this work ahead of time is a lot easier than trying to find what you were meant to do after the steady paycheque disappears because you got fired like I did. Figure it out while you have the flexibility of income and days off to go to interviews.