11 career change blocking mistakes to avoid

 

11 career blocking mistakes

Do you have a career change percolating? Want to make it as fluid and successful (and minimally painful and challenging) as possible? Then today’s post is for you!

For thirteen plus years in my Passion Catalyst work, I have had front row seat on people’s career change efforts. Along the way,I have had a bazillion conversations with aspiring career changers, both my clients and others.

In the process, I have gotten a good picture of how people get in the way of a successful career change. I would like to share a few of the big ones here.

Taking a blind leap

This is probably the biggest mistake I see people in danger of making. They feel frustrated and stuck, and they want to hightail it out of Dodge into something better ASAP. And so they jump ship to something that seems attractive, only to discover too late that they have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

Before you commit to any career change, take the time to get a deep understanding of what makes you tick. Figure out what energizes you, and where you shine. A good place to start is identifying your energizers.

Immediate gratification mindset

Here’s the cold hard truth. A successful career change almost never happens with the flip of a switch. There’s no giving your notice on Friday and starting a grand and glorious new career on Monday.

Wanting the immediate gratification of a change to something new is understandable, but it gets in the way when it becomes a guiding desire.

It can lead to mistakenly assessing an opportunity as not possible (what might be impossible immediately is often possible over the course of a couple years). And it can contribute to a feeling that you’re failing when you’re actually making progress (if your definition of success is a dramatic change in the short-term, even good but slow progress towards change in the long-term can feel like failure).

Believing your no

When my clients are at the stage of assessing the feasibility of the potential careers they have identified, I always advise them to question it any time the answer is no.

Sometimes no really is a valid answer, but other times it’s more of a knee-jerk no than a well-supported assessment. An example of this is the scenario I mentioned earlier of someone mistakenly seeing something as impossible when taking a longer-term view would open the door to possibility.

When you look at a potential career and ask, “Is this feasible,” follow any no up by asking, “Is that really true? What assumptions am I making? Are they valid? How could I make it feasible?”

Believing your yes

The flipside of believing your no is flying down the path with an unquestioned belief in your yes. When you decide that an a new career option, spend some time building a case for why it’s a good idea. Will it really work for you? Is there really the potential there you think you see?

Don’t take a pessimistic approach to this. It’s more one of positive curiosity. Think of it as testing the solidness of a rope bridge across a river before you choose to go runnning across it.

Not expecting obstacles

Another really common mistake I see people making is somehow not expecting obstacles to pop up. This can lead them to mistaking a roadblock for the end of the road. “Crap! I guess thisn’t isn’t really doable after all.”

Reframe what obstacles mean. Rather than something that proves that what you’re trying to do isn’t possible, or that you don’t have what it takes, just look at them as a normal part of the landscape you’ll inevitably need to navigate.

Over-expecting obstacles

It’s also an all-too-common mistake for people to fill their path with phantom obstacles. Awareness of the possibility of obstacles can be valuable, but continually assigning a solid sense of reality to obstacles you haven’t even encountered yet is a recipe for trouble.

As you move towards a new career, make it a habit to check in with yourself to see if any limiting imagined reality is slowing you down.

Not creating an inner foundation

OK, you know by now I’m going to weave this one in any chance I get. When people don’t have a solid inner foundation – when they don’t have a grounding practice to slow down the hamster wheel in their minds – it’s easier for doubt, worry, and fear to take over.

Developing some kind of grounding practice, whether it is meditation, Qi Gong, breathing practices, mindfulness, or something else, gives that poor overworked hamster a break and helps you come from a greater sense of peace.

No objective forum for assessment

Somewhere along the line in their career change, people often feel like they’re not making any progress (some of this is that immediate gratification beastie rearing its head again). And when they do, it’s too easy for them to throw up their hands and say, “This isn’t working.”

Having a way to objectively check in can help immensely. It might be as simple as taking a journal and asking questions like, “What steps have I taken? What progress have I made? How am I closer to a successful change than I was? What difficulties am I running into? What can I do about them?”

Not having a plan

Diving in and winging it is a great way to fall flat on your face. When you decide to make a career change, spend some time creating a plan for how you’re going to make that happen. What are the steps? What do you need to learn? What relationships do you need to develop? What’s standing in your way? How will you navigate past that?”

The more you think it through in advance, the fewer surprise you’ll encounter and the better prepared you will be.

Over-attachment to a plan

Some people run into the opposite problem from the free-wheeling no-plan-for-me types. They get so rigidly attached to their plan (and their goals) that it gets in the way of being able to nimbly recognize and capitalize on opportunities and explore alternative routes past obstacles.

Make it a habit to check in with your goals and plans and ask, “What needs to change here?”

Mistaking molehills for mountains

I mentioned this one under “not expecting obstacles,” but it merits its own focus. When you run into the inevitable pothole in the road, resist the urge to create a story that the road is washed out. Let the molehills stay molehills.

When you find yourself responding negatively to a difficulty, ask yourself, “Is this difficulty really as big as I think it is? Is my response proportionate to the actual size of the problem?”

So there you have it. Ten mistakes you can avoid in your career change. Which ones are you in danger of making?

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How to ride your fear to success

Does fear ever stop you dead in your tracks and stop you from stepping fully into your potential? Do you ever feel inspired to do something, then watch that inspiration seep away as fear leaks into the picture?

If so, welcome to the human experience! That happens to all of us, to some degree.

In my most recent Wild About Work video, I take a look at how to harness that fear to help you reach your goals, rather than letting it stop you.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Career Passion 101

A big part of getting Wild About Work is doing work that energizes you. In this video, I share a nuts-and-bolts, common sense approach to finding passion in your work.

Based on the approach I developed in my Passion Catalyst coaching to help my clients create careers that energize and inspire them, in this video, I take a look at:

  • My definition of passion
  • Why passion isn’t about what you love
  • How to identify your passion’s basic building blocks that you can use to both improve your current work and plan for passion in your career’s future

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

19 questions to find more meaning in your work

find meaning at work

In this series on making work meaningful, I have explored many facets of how to create a greater sense of meaning in your work. I wrote a lot of words in the process, but in a way it all boils down to three simple words you can use as your guide:

Find the meaning.

Yep. That’s it. Any given workday is packed with opportunities to find the meaning. Sometimes it will be glaringly obvious, like the positive impact your work is having. Other times you’ll need to do a little excavating, finding the diamonds in the midst of the muck.

Meaning excavation questions

The mighty question mark is an excellent excavation tool. Below, you’ll find a number of questions you can ask on a regular basis to help you uncover those gems. You might pick a few and make that the foundation for a daily quick-scan. Or you might choose one a week and focus on noticing as much as you can every day.

For those who are feeling particularly cynical, it can be tempting to meet some questions, like “why does this matter,” with a roll of eyes and say, “it doesn’t.” For the sake of finding the meaning, I encourage you to notice any response like that, let it go, and focus on finding the positive.

And now, on to the excavation! You can ask any of these questions before your day starts to help set the stage for noticing, during the day, or at the end of the day as a way to look back and review.

What feels meaningful about this?

Why does this matter?

What difference does what I’m doing make?

What am I learning here? What could I learn here?

How is this work giving me an opportunity to grow?

How is this problem/difficulty giving me an opportunity to grow?

How can I approach my work with mastery and excellence in mind?

How can I come from a space of love today?

How can I bring my heart to work today?

Where are the opportunities to serve?

How can what I’m experiencing lead me towards my long-term vision?

What aspects of my work do I value?

Where do I feel connection in my work (with other people, with my work, with the outcome, with something greater than myself, etc.)?

How does my work align with who I am? Where are the opportunities to make it align more closely?

How can I have a positive impact on the people around me?

How can my work be an expression of my spirituality? How can it help me grow spiritually?

How can my interactions be an expression of my spirituality? How can they help me grow spiritually?

How can the way I engage problems be an expression of my spirituality? How can it help me grow spiritually?

What in my life is this work enabling? (e.g., supporting your family, giving you the money to contribute financially to causes you care about, etc.)

Explore why it matters

If you go back to the definition of meaningful work we’re using here – “Work that matters (and you decide what matters!)” – a follow-up question to the answers of each of these might be, “And why does that matter?”

The goal of that question is to help you build a deeper picture of what matters to you, and why.

The more you understand that, the more you can both recognize opportunities to incorporate more of it into your work and be aware of it when it’s there. The more you are aware of what matters, the more of what matters you consciously experience.

And the more of what matters you experience, the more meaningful work becomes.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Make work meaningful by aligning what you do with who you are

you target

Think back to a time when you felt in the groove, a time when whatever you were doing opened the door to a state of flow where you naturally immerse yourself and feel energized.

Now put that in the context of the definition of meaningful work we’re using in this series on how to make work more meaningful:

Meaningful work = Work that matters (and you decide what matters!)

Do you think work that lets you flow in that groove might feel like it matters? (Hint: I’m thinkin’ yes.) In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at how do that.

How to align what you do with who you are

As I described in the post on finding your energizers, my definition of passion is “the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.” It’s the definition I have used for the last thirteen years in my Passion Catalyst work as a foundation for helping people create careers that light them up.

In a nutshell, you experience passion when the work you do aligns with who you are – when your work becomes an authentic expression of self.

How do you align what you do with who you are? A great place to start is the exercise I discuss in that post about finding your energizers, taking a look at what you love and digging into why you love it, identifying the underlying themes (reasons why) that tend to be there when you’re energized.

When you understand the underlying reasons why you love what you love, you can consciously look for opportunities to experience them. That might be through something big and life-altering, like a career change, or it might be through something small, like recognizing an opportunity to experience them in a project, or even simply in how you approach your work.

Ultimately, it’s about having a solid self-awareness of “who you are” so you can recognize opportunities to align what you do with that.

Start with self-exploration questions

There is no end of ways to gain a deeper understanding of what makes you tick. Here are ten more questions to get you started. You can unpack more insight from most of them by following the answer up with asking, “Why?”

  • What am I doing when I’m in that groove? (Why am I in my groove then? What is it about that that lets that flow happen?)
  • What am I doing when I”m at my best? (Why am I at my best then?)
  • What are my innate gifts? What do I naturally do well? (Why? What allows me to do that so well?)
  • What do I feel called to do? (Why? What is it about that that is compelling?)
  • What would I do even if I didn’t get paid for it? (Why? What would I get out of it?)
  • How do I work best? (Why? What is it about that way of working that allows my best to come out?)
  • What do I dislike at work? If I could change that, what would the ideal be? (Why? What is it about that that would make it ideal?)

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The more you understand about what makes you tick and how you naturally thrive, the more potential you have to make choices and take actions that align what you do with who you are.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How to make your work your spiritual practice

spirit

One of the biggest opportunities to feel a greater sense of meaning in your work, regardless of whether you love your job or loathe it, is to make work a spiritual practice.

A few weeks ago I posted about using time in traffic as a personal growth practice. The idea was that the time we spend behind the wheel is often a microcosm for a lot of the work we need to do on our life at large.

It’s the same at work. If we’re conscious and aware of the opportunities – and willing to work with them – work can be a powerful place of personal and spiritual growth.

Making your work your spiritual practice takes you out of the smallish perspective of me, me, me and creates an opportunity for your work, whatever that work is, to be about something greater.

Three caveats

Before I go any further, I want to be clear about three things.

First, I have no agenda as to what spirituality should mean for you. That’s 100% yours to define. My role here is to offer up some ways to start exploring and making this idea your own, not to give any definite opinion on what spirituality is or isn’t.

Second, none of what I’m going to describe here involves expressing your spiritual beliefs to any of your co-workers. You can use work as a powerful spiritual practice without anyone ever realizing it.

Finally, I encourage you to tailor this model to make it your own. Use the framework I offer here as a starting point, not a something set in stone. Take what works, leave what doesn’t, and add what’s missing.

A model for work as a spiritual practice

As I was preparing for this post, I spent a lot of time pondering what the pieces of the puzzle are when it comes to making your work a work as a spiritual practicespiritual practice. Yesterday, I distilled it into the following model.

My goal here is to give you a way to think about approaching work as a spiritual practice that you can customize to make it relevant to your own spiritual views and experience.

I will share more specific ways to apply and practice this in future posts, but first I want to outline the overall framework.

Your Spiritual Self

At the heart of the model lies what I think of as your Spiritual Self. This is something deeper than the chattering ego. It is the source of the “still small voice.” It is the place of deep peace.

You might call it the Self (with a capital S to distinguish it from the small-s self of the ego). You might think of it as soul. You might simply think of it as the space of Love and Peace you experience in the deep silence. You might think of it as the inner light.

It’s the place where you connect with God, or Spirit, or Source, or the Divine, or the Great-What-Is, or whatever way of thinking about it resonates with you.

Build your foundation

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not presenting this from the point of view of any particular dogma or belief system. Here’s where you make the model your own.

In this part of the model, you get clear on your own perspective. What are your spiritual beliefs? What does it mean to take those beliefs out of the intellectual and philosophical and actually live them? What are the spiritual principles you use to guide your actions and decisions?

This is an important piece of the puzzle, because it’s the foundation you’ll be standing on in all the rest of your efforts to make work your spiritual practice.

Presence

A vital aspect in treating work as a spiritual practice is staying present to what’s happening in the here and now. Only when you’re present and aware can you skillfully notice and take advantage of opportunities to make work your practice. And much of what takes us off the spiritual path is our ongoing immersion in non-now thoughts and responses.

Practice Points

As I ran through different ways that work can present opportunities for spiritual practice, I started to see several main “practice points.” The practice points are areas where opportunities both to practice your spirituality and to grow show up in abundance. .

People

Other people offer a big opportunity to embody your spiritual practice. Our interactions with others are where we shine, as well as where the work we still need to do is glaringly obvious.

The people around you provide an opportunity to practice love, compassion, patience, generosity, service, and a bazillion other concepts that align with what it means to live your spiritual beliefs. They also provide opportunities to see clearly where you’re out of alignment.

Your work

The work you do, how you do it, and the attitude you take towards it can also offer an opportunity for spiritual practice.

Change

If there’s anything that makes us ripe for spiritual growth, it’s change. Most of us have some degree of challenge navigating change. We resist it. We cling to the old way. Treating work as a spiritual practice encourages us to let go of that resistance.

The constant flow of change in the workplace, and in the world that those workplaces operate in, provide opportunity after opportunity to practice the peace of letting go.

Your ego-self

The thoughts and responses you encounter in your own mind as you go about your day can also be a prime point for spiritual practice. Where are they out of alignment? Where are they in alignment?

Problems

When it comes to opportunities for spiritual development, the problems you encounter are some of your biggest gifts. Problems offer the opportunity to ask, “How can I engage this more skillfully? How is this helping me grown in my spiritual practice?”

Far from being a monkey wrench in the works that gets in the way of “being spiritual,” problems are the path.

Reminders & Rituals

Finally, there are reminders and rituals you can integrate into your day. This might be something as simple as pausing to breath and focus when the phone rings, before you pick it up, or saying a silent blessing for whoever is on the other end. Or it could be starting the day off stating your intention to serve and work towards the highest good of all involved. Or a sticky note that just says, “Remember.”

Clearly this post is a picture of how to make your work your spiritual practice that barely scratches the surface. In future posts I will go deeper with specific ideas you can put into action.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

20 questions to help you make work meaningful

meaningful work

Much as I would like to offer it, there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for finding meaning in your work. Meaning is a custom job. What feels deeply meaningful to you might feel just so-so to your neighbor.

The goal of this series of posts on making work meaningful is to help you consciously, purposefully find a greater sense of meaning in your work. I want to help you take an intentional approach to building meaning into your career, rather than just guessing or lucking into it.

Since what feels meaningful is such a unique and individual thing, it stands to reason that the first and possibly most important thing is understanding where meaning comes from for you.

Rather than leaving you staring at a blank canvas in a mild state of panic (“How the hell do I know??? They never taught me that in school!!”), I’m kicking off the series with some questions to prime the pump on your personal exploration of meaning.

There is a bucketload of questions here. Don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling like you need to answer all of them (and possibly not answer any of them). Just scan through and see which ones catch your eye and start from there.

  1. What does meaning mean to me? (You can start out with this post offering a definition of meaning and build your own from there.)
  2. What feels meaningful to me? Why? (Just make a laundry list to start with – you can sort through it later to find the key themes.)
  3. If I could wave my magic wand and create a path chock full o’ meaning, what would I be doing? Why?
  4. What do I care about in my work? Why?
  5. What do I care about in my life? Why?
  6. If I could make one difference in my job, what would it be? Why?
  7. If I could make one difference in my life, what would it be? Why?
  8. Are there specific areas of focus that feel most meaningful to me? (e.g., social justice, environmental issues, helping people thrive.) Why do they feel so meaningful?
  9. Whom or what does it feel compelling to help? Why?
  10. What is more important to me than anything else in my career? If I could only pick one thing as my central focus, what would it be? Why?
  11. What is more important to me than anything else in my life? If I could only pick one thing as my central focus, what would it be? Why?
  12. If I didn’t get paid in money, but in the feeling I get from the impact my work makes, what would I do? What impact/difference would feel most compelling? Why?
  13. What, if any, meaning do I get from relationships and connection with others? What kinds of relationships and connections feel meaningful? Why?
  14. What kinds of interactions with others feel meaningful? Why?
  15. What is my current why? (Why do I do what I do? Why does it matter?)
  16. What is my ideal why? (If I had my ideal job, why would I do what I do? Why would it matter?)
  17. What do I value? Why?
  18. When do I feel most alive? Why?
  19. What lights me up? Why? (Check out this post to help you find your energizers.)
  20. When am I most motivated? Why?

You’ll notice that each of those is followed by, “Why?” Asking why is one of the best ways to unpack what’s there and get a deeper insight into what your initial answers mean.

Don’t expect to be able to come up with a crisp, clean picture of what meaning means to you. Think of it as sculpting your awareness out of clay. The first thing you need to do is get a lump of clay to start shaping. That’s what you’re doing with the initial exploration.

From there, you can continue exploring and refining. You can also use your everyday life as a learning laboratory, continually asking, “What feels meaningful here? Where does meaning feel like it’s missing? Why?”

Bit by bit, you’ll create a more deeper understanding of your own personal version of meaning. And the more clarity you have, the more potential you have to recognize both how it already exists and opportunities to bring more into your life.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

 

Energize your work by changing your focus

focus

Imagine yourself sitting in a bungalow on a tropical beach. It’s a bit of a budget place, so the accommodations aren’t all that fancy. On the other hand…come on! You’re hanging out at a tropical beach!

Now imagine two scenarios. In one, you’re sitting in the bungalow and thinking, “Man, this place has seen better days. Look at these walls – they should have had a new paint job years ago. What a dump. I wish I could afford a better place. I always have to settle for second rate.”

Now for the second. You’re sitting there and, while you notice that the bungalow has seen better days, that’s not where your attention is lingering. “What an incredible view! I can feel the vitamin D just looking at that sunshine. Look at the color of that water. Amazing! I’m so blessed that I could find this low-budget option so I could come here even when money is tight.”

What you experience is the result in large part of what you choose to focus on. The exact same situation can be experienced in completely different ways.

You can use that fact to improve your day-to-day experience at work.

Where is your focus?

Take a look at what you focus on over the course of a work day. Do hash and rehash everything that’s wrong with your job, with your boss, with the jerk who leaves his dirty dishes in the lunchroom without washing them. Do you get pulled into the daily water cooler bitch-o-rama?

Or do you take any opportunity you can get to look for what’s good? Do you stop and savor the things you enjoy? Do you make an effort to notice things to be grateful for?

This isn’t about blowing sunshine up your wazoo and pretending everything is sunshine and daisies if it’s not. It’s about choosing where to direct your attention.

If something sucks, pretending it doesn’t won’t make it go away. But you don’t have to feed the fire of that suckituce. You can choose whether to keep your attention there, spinning round and round on that hamster wheel of negativity, or whether to aim it in a more positive and sustaining direction.

The more you can create a positive perspective, paying attention to the various shades of what’s good, the more positive your days will be, and the less of a draining effect the negatives will have.

How to shift your attention to the positive

If you realize that you habitually focus on the negative, you’re probably not going flip a switch and magically focus on the positive. But you can gradually shift the balance in a positive direction.

Step 1: Take stock

Start by simply noticing where your attention spends its time. For the next week, do an end-of-day review. Where was your focus during that day? Pay special attention to the sticky bits, the negative things that keep recurring.

If you want to get a more detailed look at this, try setting a timer to go off every hour during that week. When you hear it, check in with yourself. Ask, “Where has my attention been? Has my focus been positive, negative, or neutral in the last hour?”

The idea with this part is to simply get a better picture of what is actually going on. You can’t change what you don’t notice. Consciously noticing the times when you fall into the negative spin cycle gives you an opportunity to start making different choices.

Step 2: Notice and replace

As you start seeing when your focus is dwelling on the negative, it opens the door to looking for alternatives. “OK, here’s that ‘my boss is an asshole’ story. Maybe that’s true, but what else can I notice? What do I like about him? What do I like about my job? What do I appreciate about the people around me?'”

You can use the negative focus you notice as a reminder to shift your attention to something more positive and constructive.

Step 3: Look for the positive

Finally, you can start habitually looking for positive things to focus on. What can you appreciate? What can you enjoy? What can you notice that is even a little bit fun, or delightful?

Think of it as a jar full of marbles. The more positive marbles you put into the jar, the less space you have for negative marbles.

The exciting thing about this opportunity to add juice to your job is that it relies exclusively on the sole thing you have real control over in this world – what goes on between your ears.

By managing your focus, you direct your mind to create a more positive perspective. That perspective in turn creates a more positive experience. Even when nothing in your external world has changed.

Kinda like magic, right?

[This post is part of a series on how to feel more juice in your current job.]

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

–-

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Time for a career change? Ask these questions to find out

questions

Think about a typical day of work. What is the experience like for you? Does it leave you feeling energized and engaged, depleted and drained, or just kinda bored and indifferent?

Studies have consistently shown that half the people out there are dissatisfied with their work. Think about that. Next time you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, statistically speaking, either the person in front of you or behind you is coming home from a job they’re unhappy with.

Or maybe the unhappy one is you! It can be easy to go into auto-pilot mode and just grind on through each week, but it’s worth taking yourself out of that loop to take an objective look. Because you don’t have to stay there!

Is it time for a change in your career? Here are some questions to help you evaluate that.

#1: Do I get to be who I am, or do I need to put on a costume when I show up every day (assuming you’re not paid to play batman)?

For SO many people, going to work is about another day of showing up and being who they’re not. Not only does that façade take a lot of energy to maintain, it’s also a sign that you’re not doing something that allows you to be where you’re naturally at your best.

Don’t think about it. How does it feel? Does it feel natural, or does it take effort just to get through another day of getting the job done?

#2: Identify the percentages

OK, this is more a formula for a question than a specific question itself. For any given topic, assign percentages to a high, neutral, and low response. If it helps to see it visually, try expressing it as a pie chart.

What percentage of the time does what I do:

  • Energize me?
  • Drain and deplete me?
  • Feel neutral (not something you love, but fine to do)?

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What percentage of the time does what I do:

  • Engage me? (You feel drawn into it and it’s easy to stay focused on what you’re doing.)
  • Leave me feeling disengaged? (A trip to the dentist might be a welcome distraction.)
  • Feel neutral (Not bad. Not great. Doable.)?

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What percentage of the time do I:

  • Feel like I’m in my groove? (Where you’re operating at your best, doing what you love and you’re good at?)
  • Feel like I’m in a grind?
  • Feel neutral about what I’m doing?

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What percentage of the time do I:

  • Enjoy the work I’m doing?
  • Actively dislike the work I’m doing?
  • Feel neutral about the work I’m doing?

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This is a handy way to do a quick assessment of any aspect of your work. You can assign percentages to things like, for example:

  • What percentage of my time spent interacting with my co-workers do I enjoy?
  • What percentage of what I do reinforces a feeling of confidence?
  • What percentage of what I do is something I would do without being paid, just because I enjoy it so much?

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Assigning percentages like that is a valuable way to both force yourself to evaluate what’s going on and get a quick view of the situation.

It can also be valuable to ask questions that take you deeper. For example:

#3: When I think about seeing myself ten years down the road on the path I’m on, how does that feel? Twenty years?

Really let yourself dive into this one. Let it be a gut reaction, rather than an analysis. How does it feel to think about what you’re doing ten years on? Does it feel good, or do you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?

#4: Do I care about the outcome of what I do?

You don’t have to feel like you’re solving world hunger, but if you look at what you’re doing and find yourself thinking, “Really? Is this all there is?,” it might be a sign that you feel the need to do something that resonates more with the difference you feel called to make.

Is it time for a change? 

There is no formula where if you answered a certain percentage of the questions a certain way it’s time for a career change. These questions are simply designed to give you a better picture of how things really stand, and to put things in perspective.

As you look at the answers to the questions above, you might wrap up with one final question to help the insight flow more fluidly:

If I didn’t have to worry about _________ (whatever your head tells you is why you can’t make a change), would I keep doing what I’m doing, or would I make a change?

Separating how you feel about the fit of your work from the logistics of whatever a change might entail can help you see it with more clarity.

[If you want to go deeper into this idea, download my free audio course that guides you through the process, or check out my e-book The Occupational Adventure Guide.]

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How to energize your work by changing what you do

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If you want to feel more energized in the job you have right now, an obvious step is to explore the question, “What can I change about what I do?”

This is one of a series of posts on how to juice up your job right where you’re at. In the first step, you used the Gain-to-Drain Ratio to do a “personal energy audit” of your job. In the second, you identified your energizers.

Those two steps gave you specifics to work with, both about your job and what lights you up. Now you can start putting that insight to work by changing what you do.

Is there any way to do more of what you really enjoy about your work? Is there any way you can start doing less of what sucks the energy right out of your world? Remember that very few jobs are cast in stone. Especially when you add time into the mix, many jobs are pretty malleable.

In fact, ignoring your job’s malleability is a great way to stay unnecessarily stuck in the same old dissatisfied rut.

Incorporate your energizers

In my last post, I talked about finding your energizers – the underlying reasons why you love what you love, the common themes that tend to be there when you feel energized and engaged. (For example, exploration and discovery is a hugely important energizer for me. Other people’s energizers might include, for example, creating, or analysis, or problem-solving, or helping people thrive.)

Knowing what your energizers are opens the door to a powerful yet simple job-sculpting question: “How can I experience more of those?”

Help your boss help you

One way I have seen my Passion Catalyst clients do that really effectively is sharing what they have learned with their boss, providing her or him with more insight on how to shape their responsibilities to better reflect where they shined.

Think about it. One of the challenges any boss has is how to get the most out of the people who work for her. The most productivity, the highest performance, etc. When you tell your boss, “here are the underlying characteristics that are there when I’m most energized,” you’re really telling her, “Here are some of the ways to get the most out of me. Here are some of the ways you can help me feel at the top of my game.” That in turn would help your boss recognize what projects and responsibilities to steer your way.

I have seen this one thing turn a mediocre fit into a job the client loves. It’s not some kind of magic wand solution. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. Depending on how far off base you are to begin with, a more likely outcome might be that you will start feeling better about how you spend your days, even if it isn’t a perfect fit. Definitely better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!

Scan the horizon and evaluate opportunities 

Another way you can put your knowledge of what lights you up to use is to scan the horizon for opportunities that will let you experience more of your energizers. For example, let’s say your company is just starting to develop an employee volunteer program, and there is an opportunity for somebody to step up and spearhead its development.

In identifying your organizers, let’s say two common themes that came up were organizing and helping people. Looking at the role of developing the volunteer program you might realize, “Wow! That is jam packed with organizing and helping people!” So you lobby for the opportunity to take it on.

Presto! More juice in your job.

That same process can apply any time you’re presented with, for example, the opportunity to take on a new project, or a new responsibility in your job. You can go beyond the normal “will this give me experience/visibility/etc.” and ask, “Is this likely to leave me feeling energized?”

The cumulative impact of that one question over time can be enormous.

Use your energy audit

The point of the energy audit (where you identified what energizes you about your job and what drains your energy) was to give you a detailed picture of what’s happening in your job so you have specifics to work with as you start taking action to make positive change.

You can look at all the aspects of your work you have identified that give you energy and ask, “Is there any way I can bring more of each of these things into the picture?” Conversely, you can look at the energy drains and ask, “Is there any way I can do less of these things?”

Here again, as appropriate, it might be worth sharing some of these insights with your boss. She might be able to steer more of what energizes you your way, or even take some of what drains you off your hands. I’ve even seen clients initiate a partial “responsibilities swap” with a co-worker who was better suited for a particular responsibility.

Take advantage of time

Finally, don’t limit yourself by feeling you need to make all the positive change possible right now. Some of the positive change that is possible only unfolds over time.

Remind yourself that there is a cumulative change that can unfold if you cultivate it. Make the immediate change where you can, but watch for the opportunities that will help your job evolve as well.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

 

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