Albert Einstein (you know, the smart guy) once said that if you have an hour to solve a problem, spend the first 55 minutes making sure you know exactly what the problem is, and the last 5 minutes solving it. Do you apply this theory to your career choices?
The corporate world is so focused on results results results that your measure of importance and intelligence at work is often based on how many back-to-back meetings you have crammed into your calendar. “Wow, she’s really busy. She must be important. Look how fast she’s walking to her next meeting.” You spend all day in meetings getting great ideas that you never have time to digest and act upon.
So let’s slow this machine down for a second. Take a pause here and breathe. Relax. Try closing your eyes for 30 seconds, right now (and stop trying to speed-read this article). It’s harder than you think. Let go of that voice in your head that says “Hurry the #%$ up, we need progress!”
Square peg, round hole
As a Courage Coach I help a lot of people make career changes. It’s scary, but all big change is scary. Step 1 is to follow the Einstein rule above. What makes this person tick, what do they want out of life, what’s important to them? No no no, log out of Monster.com, you’re not ready for that yet. After all, you can’t figure out if you’re on the right path unless you have already figured out what path you want to be on. Otherwise you end up being a square peg trying desperately to fit into a round hole. That hurts.
Enter one of the most important things in which you can engage during your entire life: self-reflection. For some people, that term conjures up images of tree-hugging, incense-burning, raw vegetable-eating hippies who hold hands around the campfire and talk about the f-word (‘feelings’). However, regular reflection helps you ensure that the life you are living is as aligned as possible with the person that you are. That’s a good thing. I do it every single day. It means I’m on the right path and I’m happy and fulfilled. Gee, what a novel concept.
What if I mess it up?
Most people are scared to figure out who they are because they may discover they want what they don’t have. Then they would need to change something. Change is scary because it includes the possibility of failure. No one likes to fail (me included). So here is the great news: there is no such thing as failure in self-reflection. Everything you try leads to learning, and learning leads to better decisions towards aligning your goals and actions.
A decision is a choice that is made with the information you have at hand at that particular time of your life. The more self-reflection you do, the more accurate the information you will have about yourself. The more accurate your information, the better choices you will make. You then end up choosing the things you were born to do. Tah-dah!
Okay I get it. Now what?
There are a number of ways to begin your glorious trip down the road to personal enlightenment, without the need for a bald head and massive stomach (no offense, Buddha). But of course I can’t give you all my secrets in one day, so you will have to return to the next issue to discover the next step in the process. You will then have what it takes to produce your very own personal Mission, Vision and Values – this becomes the road-map to figuring out your next career move.
Okay fine, I’ll give you one exercise to do before the next issue (I’m such a push-over). There’s a great free online assessment to help you determine your top Character Strengths. What are you great at? What are you not so great at? It takes about 20 minutes and you can do it right here. Check it out and see what it tells you. What comes as a surprise? How many of your top 5 strengths to you get to use on a daily basis (that’s a good thing)? How many of your bottom 5 strengths are you expected to use in your job (that’s a bad thing)? What career shift could allow you to use more of those top 5 strengths?
Congratulations, you have started the journey towards a more fulfilled, better performing you. Look out world.
– Billy Anderson