In the first part of this two-part article, I explored how to create an internal compass that points the way to a career that leaves you feeling energized and alive. In this post I want to take a deeper look at how to put that compass to use.
Your internal compass is made of the characteristics that tend to be there when you feel most energized and in your groove (the reasons why you love what you love). With that awareness, you can approach your career as a vehicle for experiencing those things.
So let’s dive in. Here are five ways you can use that compass to create a career you love.
Improve your current job
Whether you’re eyeing a career change or just want to do everything you can to enjoy your life at work, you can use that internal compass to improve your current job.
The first thing I suggest my clients do when they have created that internal compass is to use it to improve and refine their current situation, even if they’re planning to leave.
Why? Because whatever change ultimately they make happens by way of the here-and-now. And the better the here-and-now is, the more mental, emotional, and physical energy they will have to put towards making a change.
Even if it’s only 10% better, that’s 10% more energy they have just freed up to put to better use (which, as they say, is most assuredly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick).
To improve your current job, take a “sculpt and scan” approach.
Take a look at your job through the lens of that internal compass. How does it stack up? Where is it aligned with what energizes you? Where is it out of sync? Jot down notes on what you see.
The next step is to go through each of those things and ask, “How can I bring more of what lights me up into the picture? How can I do/experience less of what’s out of sync?” You might be amazed at how much room there is to sculpt your job in a positive direction, especially over time.
To complement your sculpting, make a habit of scanning for opportunities to bring more of what energizes you into the picture, as well as ways to reduce the energy drains. The more this becomes habitual, the more possibilities for positive change you’ll notice.
Share with your boss
One of any boss’ main objectives is to get as much result as possible out of the resources at hand. As an employee, you are one of those resources. Help your boss to get the most out of you by giving him or her insights that will make it easier to guide you toward what energizes you.
Share the characteristics you have identified in your internal compass (to the degree that it’s relevant and prudent – if some of the things you have identified are a total mismatch for your job, you might leave them out of the conversation, at least at first).
Say something like, “I have been doing this personal development exploration. I know part of your job is getting the most out of the people who work for you, so I want to share this to give you more insight on where I’m naturally at my best.”
Plan your path
If you work at a large company and plan on staying put, you can use your internal compass to assist in your career path exploration. Use it as a starting point to explore all the paths available to you that would provide an opportunity to experience the characteristics in your internal compass.
You can start by simply talking to people. Maybe your boss. Maybe your boss’ boss, or someone with a perspective from a completely different area of the business. Use your internal compass as a starting point. “Here’s what I want to experience. What paths do you see within the organization that would align with these?”
Brainstorm new possibilities
If it’s time for a complete change, not just a more conscious plan for your current path, you can use that internal compass as a starting point to brainstorm possible new careers.
Rather than try to figure out which jobs give you the chance to experience all of what energizes you, you can brainstorm one item at a time (and then evaluate those ideas once you’re done brainstorming, eliminating the ones that don’t appeal to you).
So, for example, one of the characteristics in my own internal compass is “exploration and discovery.” Using that as a starting point for brainstorming, I might come up with my current work of coaching, or being a travel photographer, a private investigator, a research scientist, a genealogist, etc.
Some of those are more interesting than others, but I’m not worried about that just yet. My focus here is just idea generation. Evaluating those ideas is the next step.
Finally, you can use your internal compass as a tool to evaluate options to shine a light on how likely they are to energize you. These can run the whole range of opportunities, from assessing the desirability of a small project you have the opportunity to take on in your present job, to evaluating a new job offer on your current path, to exploring a whole new career.
When you start using that internal compass as a guide for your career decisions, the power and benefit isn’t just about your ability to make a better decision in any single circumstance. It’s also about the cumulative direction those decisions take you over time.
Think about running every decision you make in your career for the next ten years through the filter of that internal compass. Every time you do, you start to factor in the question, “Will this energize me?” As you do, decision after decision, the overall arc of your career can’t help but move in an energizing, enlivening direction.
In my next post I will explore energy management and the Gain-to-Drain Ratio, a deceptively simple yet super effective approach to feeling more energized, both in your work and the rest of your life. So stay tuned!
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Curt Rosengren says he is “on a mission to change the world from the inside out.” Please visit CurtRosengren.com to learn more.