Nearly everyone wants a career that is emotionally, spiritually, and financially rewarding. But unfortunately, a lot of people never find that professional sweet spot—either because their passiondoesn’t happen to pay well, or because they feel stuck at a job they dislike for the sake of a steady paycheque.
To achieve a fulfilling career, think about how you can find synergy between your professional endeavours and your personal affinities, values, and strengths.
Let your character and values be your compass.
Consider your basic personality traits. Are you typically organized or disorganized? Are you patient and deliberate, or do you prefer to see results quickly? Extroverted, or introverted? Analytical, or intuitive?
Most importantly, what are the principles you believe in most strongly?
We can all imagine blatant examples of career mismatches: people who are vegetarians and vegans for ethical reasons shouldn’t become butchers; innumerate individuals are unlikely to thrive as accountants.
But there are many more subtle instances of career misalignment as well. If you like to keep moving and spend much of your time outdoors, a sedentary office job may wear you down. And if you have an artistic flair, you may desire significant creative autonomy, and feel frustrated if your career path doesn’t offer that.
Perseverance and resiliency are essential.
The main difference between a dream and a goal, is that a goal revolves around a concrete and achievable plan. But there is another important distinction: dreams occupy the realm of fantasy, while goals must contend with reality. In dreams, you can envision your own triumphs, but not necessarily the barriers that stand in the way.
In the real world, meaningful success rarely happens overnight—in fact, it often requires years, if not decades. You might have an extraordinary passion for something, but you’ll also be competing against many other individuals and organizations that share your enthusiasm. Almost invariably, you will encounter a great deal of rejection and shortfalls before you experience the thrill of victory. To bring your vision to fruition, you’ll need to remain committed to your goals through thick and thin.
An alternative mental approach to failure or rejection is to remember that your disappointments needn’t define you or even necessarily set you back. You can instead look at them as stepping stones that bring your closer to your final goal by affording you valuable lessons and experience.
Instead of “work-life balance”, think about your life’s work.
Of course, human beings are social animals, and it’s important to make time for family and friends outside of work hours. Your physical and mental health also depend on a healthy diet and regular exercise.
However, the optimal career path for you should bring you enough satisfaction that you believe your time on the job is beneficial to you, and that your work is fully integrated into the life you want. This is one reason why the concept of “work-life balance” is flawed: it implies that a firewall should separate your profession from the rest of your existence, and not that your career endeavours are a vital component of your life.
Instead of trying to achieve equilibrium between work and “life”, consider instead what you’d like to accomplish during your lifetime, and why. If you can’t identify how your current professional trajectory is helping you achieve the long-term goals you’ve set for yourself, then it’s time to contemplate a career change.