In an excerpt from his book, the author shares his thoughts on finding purpose in your career.
by Joel Kashuba
Let’s Admit Where We Really Are And How Little Time We Have To Do This.
Some people feel that the best way to start out on a new path is to begin with a grand statement of purpose. These “purpose statements” or “mission statements” can apply to either your personal life or your job. It is a fairly academic exercise that has high potential to stay safely on the pages of a workbook and never find its way into your real life. Regardless, it is helpful for some people. It may be useful, but it is not the solution I will pose here.
The solutions I will present to you here will begin in a setting that you know well: your very real and very busy life. Though I will not neglect deeper and more philosophical questions about having a purpose in your career, I [have] empathy for the fact that you may not have the kind of time in your day to ponder the ethereal and poetic aspects of purpose. You simply need some help focusing, getting started, and most likely the sooner, the better.
Isaac Newton suggested that “an object in motion tends to stay in motion,” and finding your purpose is no different. A purpose in motion tends to stay in motion. That is why it is unrealistic to expect that just by writing a statement of purpose you will magically have meaning in your day-to-day work. Do not just write your statement of purpose. In order to feel personally connected to your purpose, start with actions. Or even better, start focusing where action is already occurring. Take a deep look at the work you already have.
The reality is, every day you spend a chunk of your time using a certain set of skills, talents and actions to accomplish something for someone else. So why not enroll that audience into helping you do something good for your purpose? If done right, it can be very fruitful, but you must have a working environment that is conducive to your personal ethos. To figure out if you have a conducive working environment, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I enjoy the skills, talents and actions I use?
- Do I respect the people for whom I use my skills, talents and actions?
- Do I like what my work produces in the end?
If your answer is “yes” to all three of these questions, then the job you are currently in is fulfilling you, and you are in a job that will align with your purpose.
If you answered “no” to any of these three questions, then you will need to find a way to change these aspects of your daily routine so that your answer is “yes.”
If you don’t enjoy how you accomplish your work, then it is difficult to imagine that you enjoy your career. Most people who don’t like the skills, talents or actions involved in their work either have those skills and actions forced upon them by company procedure, or they have demonstrated their proficiency in skills and talents that they never intended to showcase.
Think about the skills, talents and actions that you do enjoy, even if you don’t currently use them. You need to start bringing those into your workplace. No one will invite you to bring these and, when you do, you will either be met with resistance or acceptance.
For example, if you work in a phone sales position and you love graphic design, you will need to find ways to showcase your graphic design talents in your job. Maybe you design a new, more readable way to report your daily numbers. Or maybe you design an email graphic for communicating with your coworkers. Don’t wait for an invitation. It won’t ever come. In fact, no one even knows you want to do it. The job you want does not exist. You must visualize it for the world so that the world understands its value and its meaning.
You will need to showcase the skills, talents and actions you enjoy while accomplishing the work your boss expects you to do. Your boss will either like it or not, but either way, you will be happier for it because you were able to do something you enjoy. If your work is accepted, you can find new ways to do it again. You may even be invited to do so, or even rewarded for it. If there is resistance to your work, then you will need to ask yourself if the job you are currently in is the right place for you. Being honest with yourself and making choices that align your job with the things you enjoy doing is a major factor in being happy in your career.
By Joel Kashuba
272 pages. CreateSpace. 2010. $24.95