I’m currently watching “Julia” on HBO, which has been truly delightful — especially after the slew of intense shows focused on egotistical tech titans.
What I find most inspirational is Julia Child’s determination, resourcefulness, unwavering optimism and growth mindset. She published her first cookbook at 49 and started her tv show at 51. She truly embodies the belief that “It’s never too late to follow your dreams…”
Most of the people I work with are looking for greater fulfillment in their career. Many have had an organic career where they’ve taken roles that came from recruiters, former managers or colleagues. Some have taken a promotion because it seems like the natural next step.
Others have stayed at a company way beyond their expiration date. They’re comfortable because they know the culture, leaders and how things get done. They also have limiting beliefs that they may not get the flexibility, work-life balance or compensation they currently enjoy. Or even worse, they doubt if they can be successful elsewhere.
No matter the situation, there’s a common thread: most people do not take the time to reassess their career goals and core values. As humans, we constantly evolve…so of course, our goals evolve too.
When we take one job after another without creating the time and space for us to ask what’s most important to us now, then we risk having a mid-career crisis. One where we “wake up” and wonder how we got here and where to go next — it’s confusing, distressing and overwhelming.
Fortunately, there’s good news: there is a better way and that’s starting an intentional career.
An intentional career is one that you create based on what’s most important to you.
It’s taking a proactive approach to your career and leads to a series of rich and meaningful roles and experiences.
What steps can I take?
Here are a set of simple exercises that will help you lay the foundation for starting an intentional career.
Assess your experience
List all your jobs, reflect and answer these questions:
- What did you like and dislike?
- What skills and expertise did you gain?
- What challenges did you face?
- What would’ve made the job better?
- What did you accomplish?
- How did you feel about your colleagues, the leaders, and culture?
- How did you feel about the products and services?
Then you can zoom out and draw insights, such as if you’ve been happier at smaller companies or enjoyed scaling processes more than building them from the ground up. You can use this information to identify must-haves and dealbreakers.
Define your career vision
Your career vision or North Star can be an ultimate role you’d like to attain, but for most of us, we don’t know what that is. I encourage people to think about a career vision that’s title agnostic.
It can be aspirational like something you can achieve in the next few years. Or it should be more descriptive like “leading an operations organization at a unicorn company” or “becoming a thought leader in AI/ML.”
It can also be something higher level like “empowering people to realize their full potential” or “creating the tools and processes that help businesses scale growth.”
Write current story and new story
One of the most powerful tools is writing two versions of your story. The first one is your current situation and the second one is your desired situation.
Start with the current situation and answer these questions:
- Where are you at in your career? How do you feel about it?
- What role do you currently have and at what type of company?
- What do you like and don’t you like about it?
- What is the culture like and are you satisfied with your comp and benefits?
- How do you feel about your job, your manager, your colleagues, the company?
- How do you feel about your overall life? Your physical and mental health, relationships, finances and personal growth?
- What are you grateful for?
- What do you feel like you’re lacking or missing?
This helps paint the picture of where you’re currently at and may surface some things that you weren’t aware of.
Then I want you to write your desired situation — your new story. Describe what it looks and feels like and how it affects other aspects of your life. Focus on:
- The scope of the role and your core responsibilities (at a high level)
- New opportunities you have
- The type of company and culture
- Your colleagues, manager and leaders
- Your health, relationships, finances and growth
- And how it fits into your career vision
Define the most important criteria
By doing all of these exercises, you’ve probably identified criteria that’s most important to you in a role and company. There’s great value in writing them down. It creates clarity and helps focus your efforts.
Here are some criteria to consider for your ideal role and company:
- Role: scope, global, level of visibility, IC or team leader, size of team/org, location
- Company: size, maturity, funding, industry, B2C/B2B, reputation, products, leadership, core values/culture, benefits
It’s essential to adopt a company-first mindset. If you join a great company, you’re more likely to be set up for success, receive the support you need and have growth opportunities.
I’ve stayed in touch with over 100 clients and have seen many of them get promoted or move into an even better role within 6 – 12 months. If it’s a high growth company with a positive culture, you’ll show up as your best self and do your best work and create opportunities that excite you.
Once you’ve done these exercises, you’ll be able to proactively pursue roles that are aligned to your career vision, new story and criteria. This will significantly increase your chance of landing a dream job — which is simply one you’ll love and thrive in.
By taking this approach, you’ll always make strategic career moves. Most importantly, you’ll own your career and experience more meaningful and fulfilling jobs.
And the best news is whether you have 5, 10, 15 or more years left in the workforce, you still have time to build an intentional career that gives you purpose and reignites your passion.
Are you interested in more resources and support to land a job where you’ll feel fulfilled, realize your potential and get the compensation you deserve?
If so, then watch our video and book a session with one of our job strategists. We’re excited to talk about your career goals!