Why Your Career Matters
By Bethany Miller, DBA
Jobs are meaningless. And everyone knows it.
Careers, on the other hand, are occupations that incorporate all of your diverse skills, draw upon your past experiences, and should be designed to serve your community with purpose. But it’s a huge shift in mindset to go from “I have a job” to “My career serves a purpose.”
You can almost immediately identify the people who have made this shift. They’re the ones that approach their work holistically. It’s the person who talks to people at the service counter with a genuine concern for their problem. It’s the person who makes your coffee with care and asks you how your day is going during the process. It’s the manager who asks you what else they can do for you when you approach them with an issue. They know that their work is as much about solving problems as it is about doing the tasks.
How do you turn your job mindset into a career mindset?
Very few people can articulate their life’s purpose with ease. It’s a difficult thing to see because we are mired in the details of our jobs. Therefore, real power comes when we deliberate over and identify our career’s purpose. Disclosing it gives it strength. Sharing it with others gives us influence.
Take a wider look at your work. Your career is your entire body of work. It’s everything you’ve worked on professionally- the job tasks themselves, the volunteer work you’ve done, the expertise you’ve shared through mentoring or teaching, and the peripheral skills you’ve honed over the course of years. All the travel you do? That’s shaping the way you see the world and changes how you approach your work. That community group you’re a part of? That’s building your network, making you a thought leader, and changing the way you approach work. That yoga class you take regularly? That’s creating physical and emotional flow and structuring the way you physically and emotionally approach your work. There is no separating the “you” from “your career.” Your life and career mindset are set in the same direction when you recognize your patterns and purpose.
Take stock of your values.
What is it that you truly value? Take a moment to search for “list of values” on the internet and print one out. Circle the ten that you cherish the most. Look at those ten and think about how these things that you hold most dear shape who you are, how you behave, and the work that you do. Now cross off five. These are the ones that motivate you in your most challenging situations. Now cross of three. The remaining two are the ones that define you. Finally, (you know where this is going), instead of crossing off one of the two top values, select your top value. The act of choosing instead of eliminating is an act of power. It’s a bold step in defining yourself. We’ve all had moments of crisis where we lament, “I don’t know who I am!” THIS is who you are. You are the person who was put on this earth to work for things beholden to these few selected values, but never ever forsaking Value #1.
The only way to get to the true point of our career- to see how we are really changing the world- to know why we’re really working as hard as we do- is to ask “so what?”. This is a powerful question.
If you’re a marketing manager, I’m sure you do a lot of important and interesting things for your company. So what? What’s the big deal about your work? What matters isn’t that you put out a new campaign. What matters is that you influenced the way people feel about your products. You changed someone’s mind about what they needed to consume. You generated greater sales with a powerful voice. Those actions may have tipped the scales for your company. Your work not only mattered to the bottom line, but it changed a customer’s life, even if only in the smallest way, and even if only for a moment.
If you’re a member of a volunteer organization, I’m sure you do a lot of work keeping the ship running, planning events, and advocating for the cause. So what? Anyone could do that, right? Maybe. But it matters that it’s YOU. Because you care, and you value the mission of that organization, YOU will do more impactful work than anyone else. It’s part of your purpose.
Know your worth, and grow it wisely.
You are unique in what you do because of your individual background and experiences, because of your intrinsic motivation and drive, and because of your well-earned skillset. Sure, there are people better than you at certain things. Someone will always be faster at work, more intelligent about a particular briefing, or funnier and more at ease with a particular client. But you have a unique place in your field and how you shape your career. The activities you pursue and the communities you build make you more valuable in your work than anyone. You just have to see where that space is. And if you can’t see it clearly, create it.
There are a lot of fantastic speakers at this year’s NAWMBA conference. They all can help you see a bigger picture of you and your work. Approach the keynotes, sessions, and networking with purpose, because it’s building your career. And when someone asks you what you do….tell them about your career’s purpose and your values. Then help them identify theirs.
Dr. Bethany Miller researches career psychology and works with people on identifying their career’s purpose. To find out more or contact her, visit www.FluxAgents.com and see join her at the 2017 Conference and Career Fair in Chicago! Go here to register now!