What if we start looking at our career as a journey where each job we have is just another way to manifest our vision? What if we approach the work we do as a way to get to know ourselves, to gain a better understanding of our uniqueness, to receive feedback along the way, to make adjustments, and to explore ways to support our personal growth? What if we choose to let go of any attachments such as job title, status, power, money, and focus on how our value can make an impact?
Often we build our careers making sure we get an external recognition for what we are good at, and we end up forgetting why we invest so much energy in our work. I’m not saying we shouldn’t get a promotion, a better pay, and any other form of recognition. What I’m learning – from myself and the clients I work with – is that knowing our why or choosing to explore our why by approaching our career as a human experience – quite often allows us to make a bigger impact, and ultimately, feel fulfilled.
Knowing why we do the things we do – specifically in our work – is often for many of us a process we go through. We start to make sense of what matters to us through the projects we work on, the people we team up with, the obstacles we overcome, the daily tasks we accomplish, the companies we work at, the business we decide to run, the job offers we reject. The multiple choices – as random as they can appear to be – show insightful patterns. Enabling my clients to identify and understand these patterns is part of my role as a coach, and it is quite a fascinating work to do, because it empowers them to make sense and own a career that quite often is not linear. “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder”. — Sheryl Sandberg
The moment we decide to look at each single aspect that makes up our human experience – as much in our careers as in our lives – we begin to realise that our identity is a result of the meanings we give to everything we experience. We begin to see the impact our actions have in each area of our lives, and we begin to recognise the thinking and behavioural patterns of our manifestation as human beings. We learn to see ourselves as a process rather than an outcome or a finished product. We give ourselves the permission to accept setbacks, to learn from our mistakes, to trust the place where we find ourselves, to direct our energy to what is meaningful to us.
The moment we choose to see our careers as a process where we constantly construct our meaning by accepting the messiness of the journey, we then start shifting out attention from external attachments to ourselves – and the process of our own human experience. We see our work as another channel to share our meaning and make an impact. We don’t build our identity around external forces. Rather, we internalise our meaning and find ourselves in a place where we can navigate change with less fear of the unknown, because by approaching our work as a process, we accept that the unknown is part of our human experience.
A few questions we can ask ourselves, particularly if we are at a career crossroads and we are terrified of making a change and of staying where we are:
- Where do I get my energy from?
- What does my career mean to me?
- How do I think about myself at work?
- What’s my relationship with other areas of my life?
- What else in my life can I use as a tool to share my meaning with the world?
- What first step can I take to see my career as a process?