Over the last fifteen years of helping people find career passion, I have seen two major mistakes that suck people down into work that feels mediocre and uninspired.
One is not getting really clear on what makes them feel energized and alive. The other, if they have that awareness, is a lack of action to align their career with it.
When people feel bored and uninspired in their work, or when that work feels mundanely “fine” but isn’t hitting their sweet spot, it is almost always because the work they are doing is out of synch with who they are and what is naturally energizing for them.
You can’t fix the second mistake without addressing the first, so that’s what I want to focus on today.
A question of identity
Have you ever known anyone who lost their job and suddenly felt untethered because they didn’t have that title on their business card to identify with? Or someone who recently retired who struggled with finding a post-career identity?
Those are both perfect examples of people who haven’t answered the following question.
“Who am I without my job?”
It seems like a simple question, but the answer just might be harder than you think. And it’s not just important for job seekers and those in the post-career stage of life. In fact, it’s a key question to understand if you want to consciously, continuously create a career you love.
As I have mentioned many times in the past, my definition of passion is “the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.”
It’s a simple, common-sense definition. The more what we’re doing is in synch with what naturally energizes us, the more alive we feel.
Answer the question
“Bringing more of YOU into what you do,” requires clarity. To use “who you are” as a career guidance system, the first step is answering that question – who are you without your job? And I don’t mean just a description of the roles you play in your non-work life. I mean something more fundamental.
You can start to build the answer to this by looking at it from multiple angles, asking questions like:
- What lights you up? (I suggest starting with identifying your energizers.)
- What do you care about?
- What values do you want to embody?
- What legacy do you want to leave? Why?
It can sometimes be helpful to look at it from the perspective of what feels out of synch and then exploring its opposite. You can ask questions like:
- What feels like a bur under my saddle? Why does it bother me? What would an ideal alternative be? What does that mean about me and how I’m wired?
Make your work a reflection of you
The more clear you are about what energizes you, when you feel in the groove, and what feels meaningful, the more you can make decisions that help you align with that.
Instead of seeing your career path as something that gives you an identity, you start looking at it as a way to experience who you are. For example, once I help my clients identify their innate energizers, they are able to explore career paths that would allow them to experience them. The work becomes a delivery vehicle for those energizers.
Put another way, when your path is aligned with who you are, your identity isn’t the title on your business card. The title on your business card is a reflection of your identity.
Write it down
I encourage you to build a conscious picture of who you are, and use it to guide your career. Even if you read that and think, “I already know who I am,” I encourage you to write it down. Take it out of your head and out in front of you. It will help both refine it and give you the ability to more readily use the insight as a guidance tool.
Identifying your energizers is a solid first step. You can use those to help you explore where the future could take you, as well as to evaluate career decisions large and small.
So who are you without your work? Is your work a reflection of that? If not, there’s no better time than right now to start taking steps to change that.
[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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