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The Path to Workplace Fulfillment

People devote over 40 years of their life to working. Unfortunately, too many people will live unfulfilled and ungratifying work lives and end up with disappointments.

If people are unhappy with their work lives, how can we break the cycle?

The simple answer is that if you do not manage your career, others will handle it. Their interests may not coincide with your interests. Passive control of your work decisions makes it much easier for others to take advantage of your passivity to get you to do work you do not want.

What do you want to say:

“I am going to work.”

Or

“I always wanted to be a [dream job], but now, it is too late.”

Or

“I can’t believe they pay me this much to have fun!”

The road trip analogy

Imagine you are taking a cross country road trip. Some people will take the truly adventurous route and go in a direction until they find an ocean. Along the way, they will find a serendipitous site. What if they did not find anything interesting? In my opinion, that would have been a wasted trip. 

Someone who plans their trip will know what routes to take, how long it will take to get there and make sure they go to the sites they want to see. In my opinion, planning the trip leads to a more rewarding journey. 

In career management, you will know where you have been, where you are going, and how you will get to the next position.

Career management – a definition

Career management provides a road map on how to get from point A to point Z during your working years within different organizations. The days of working your way up by starting in the mailroom of a major corporation and eventually retiring with a Rolex watch are long gone. Modern organizations demand a flexible workforce that can ebb and flow with their demands. As a result, people transition more often from job to job and company to company. In some industries, working in the same position for more than five years is considered stale! 

As the workplace changed in the last few decades, companies demand that people change directions multiple times during their working years. To add to that, the jobs that people start with are far more different than the jobs they enter retirement. Today is the best time ever for anyone to manage their career and have a fulfilling and productive work life. Considering shifts in market demands, new technologies, and personal interests make time to manage your career immediately!

Effective career management starts your career before your first job and continues throughout your working years. While managing your career earlier in life may yield better results, you are not doomed if you have a couple of decades of experience while passively managing your career. However, starting today will get you on the right track for fulfillment. As the quote says, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” Unless you take control of your career, you become the passive player in your organization and life.

Benefits of career management

You know what you want out of a job and what you can offer others

Whether you like to work in analytics, teaching, or repairing power lines, you are the ultimate person to make that decision. Some people prefer to work in large corporations, and some people like to work at startups. Each option has pros and cons and what you demand from an organization. For example, if you want a more stable position, a larger organization may offer stability over a low funded startup. Different factors like these are preferences that you need to decide what you consider essential. 

With skills and experience, you know yourself better than anyone else! Studies show that managers are terrible at identifying talent. A part of career management is knowing what you can do and how you can help an organization meet its goals. In a way, a complementary skill in career management is selling a product, YOU.

When it comes to jobs in general, it is a social contract between you and the company to provide mutual benefits. Your goal as the CEO of your life is to ensure fairness and balance in the agreement.

No skills under-utilized

There is nothing more frustrating than working at a job where it is considered entry-level, and you have an applicable master’s degree. In these situations, people are underutilized when the organization does not believe they need your skillset. When there is a significant imbalance, you need to reassess your talents, experience, and goals as quickly as possible.

With the whole world upside down due to the pandemic, companies lay people off to survive. Like the company trying to survive, people take low balled positions to get a paycheck. View these positions as temporary! Work diligently to get a job that matches your skills and experience with an organization that meets your needs after alleviating some of the financial stress. 

You are in control of your future

Dennis Gabor, the physicist who won the 1971 Nobel Prize for inventing holography, stated, “The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.” We are living in times of unprecedented change. Doors of opportunity are opening and closing all the time. When you manage your career, you will be able to take advantage of the new opportunities.

You do not allow others to make decisions for you

When you are in control, you get to make the decisions that are in your best interest. By not being in control, you take a passive role in your career. Passivity allows others to make the decisions for you and may not be in your best interest. If someone decides against your best interests, you should not accept them. You can change positions or negotiate job duties.

“Duties as assigned” is code for your job today will not be your job tomorrow. If you gain new duties and it causes your responsibilities to change to the point you are no longer doing the work you want to do. Now is the time to re-evaluate the job! You do not have to accept the change. You can move to another part of the organization or leave for another organization. If the new duties came as a result of a reorganization, looking outside the organization is your best bet. 

Understanding a company’s financial status is vitally important when you work for an organization that is experiencing financial difficulties. When push comes to shove, the organization will do what it takes to protect itself. That means that people may lose their jobs. You must do what it takes to protect your financial interests.

There are two ways to protect yourself before a company reorganizes. First, you need to keep your ear to the railroad to ascertain the situation. Pay attention to the hiring cycle. Notice how long it takes to replace employees. Unfilled jobs that typically get filled quickly may indicate an unwillingness to hire, which may further indicate financial distress. Listen for phrases like “hiring freeze”‘ that you might hear in less formal meetings. 

The other way of protecting yourself is by listening to your intuition. Often, we need to stop and listen to our inner voice. If something feels strange, there is something weird going on. The best place is onshore, away from the sinking boat before others realize it is sinking.

Your life will be more fulfilling and productive by doing work that excites you

Nobody is motivated by work that does not excite them. Nobody goes out of their way or goes above and beyond the call of duty for dull jobs.

When you get bored in your job, it is time to re-evaluate your view of the work. Can you add more responsibility? Can you find ways to make the situation more efficient? Have you outgrown the role to the point you are underutilized?

By re-evaluating your job, you should determine what your next step is. Can you make your current position work with a twist? Do you need to change departments or companies? As always, the goal is to triangulate your interests, natural talents, skills, experience, and job opportunities.

Doing work to the point it does not feel like work but mini challenges

Most people say, “I am going to work.” It does not happen enough that people will say, “I can’t believe they are paying me to have fun.” Work does not have to be work when you utilize your natural talents and experiences with an organization that supports your needs. Your tasks will be mini-challenges that you enjoy solving. Because you are in the right place, challenges are not insurmountable, stress-producing, or mentally unstimulating. 

With your limited resources, you maximize your learning

If you do not have a road map, you will not likely get to end up where you want to go. When you have a road map, you will focus on the learning that will get you to the next level. Otherwise, you will waste time learning skills that will not benefit you in the long term. We live in a time where you can learn almost anything from your living room. It is too easy to focus on the wrong knowledge area.

Better control of your comfort zone when it comes to new opportunities

If you are too comfortable, you will not grow. If you are too stressed, you become combat ineffective. The comfort zone and how it affects your performance is here:

You Need Some Stress to Perform

Your call to action

Take some time TODAY to look at what your strengths, talents, and experiences are. Look at what your job is and determine if the job you have today is the job you want to keep. As the CEO of your life, you have the right and duty to be your servant.

Thank you for reading, and please share this content if you find it useful!

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