“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
In my recent blog post “Are You On the Right Career Path? The Critical Question You Must Answer” I encouraged readers to ask themselves, “What do I want when it comes to my work?” I believe this is a critical question we must answer if we want to find our very best career fit. That said, when considering this question, I want to challenge you to take this a step further. To not only ask yourself, “What do I want when it come to my work?” but to ask that question under the larger umbrella question of, “What do I want in life?”
I know, I know, I tend to tackle the most basic of questions through this blog! But here is the thing. Finding the right career fit is not only about finding a role that allows us to work in our strengths and an area of interest, but it is also about finding a career that aligns with what we want out of life.
I recently worked with a coaching client who is for all intents and purposes working in a fantastic career in terms of fit. She loves the work she does, she enjoys her organization, she is passionate about her field and compensated incredibly well. So then why does she find herself continually unhappy and anxious when it comes to her work? The short answer? Her career is misaligned with what she values in life. Her senior level position, while exciting and fulfilling, requires long hours and frequent travel which is more than taxing as a mom with school age children still at home. Often missing out on her kid’s events, frequently seeing them for only minutes in a day, and being so exhausted she does not have the capacity to truly be present with them when she is home, her perfect fit of a career has left her feeling conflicted and worn.
You see, if we are not careful, if we do not consider our career paths in light of what we want in life, we can unintentionally plot a career course that is misaligned with the life we want. That said, we cannot consider our career paths in a vacuum; trust me, been there and done that. Rather, we need to give sincere thought to what we want our life to look like, (or from a faith perspective, what we believe God wants our life to look like) and then consider our career as part of that larger picture. We need to remember that our time on earth is short and we need to consider our careers as part of a larger picture and unfolding story.
So how about you? What do you want your life to look like? What do you sense God calling you towards?
- Big city living, or small town life?
- Living close to extended family, or in a location of your choosing (if they are not one and the same)?
- Time for hobbies and developing personal relationships, or opportunities for professional development and advancement?
- A flexible schedule that allows you to be home with kids, or a senior level position that requires frequent travel?
- A significant income (even if it comes at a sacrifice) or a modest earning if it provides the free time, or sense of purpose you desire?
Now I get it, these can be difficult questions with no immediate answers or solutions. My husband and I vacillate by the day between loving the convenience, opportunities and friendships we have in our current suburban life, with wanting our boys to grow up in a rural small town as we did where they can enjoy country living at its finest. And let’s be honest, who among us hasn’t considered moving to Waco, Texas to have Chip and Jo remodel the perfect farmhouse for us where we can sit on our front porch sipping sweet tea while watching our kiddos play with the various farm animals we own. No? Is that just me? But I digress.
While you can find the perfect career fit in terms of a role, if it is out of alignment with what you value and want out of life overall, I can almost guarantee you will still be unhappy.
As you get clarity on what is most important to you in life, filter your career through that lens. How well does it align? Is there a disconnect? If so, what is it and what changes do you need to make?