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5 Strategies to Build a Career You Love

Stressed, sad and anxious. 

 

This was how Harvard Business Review described today’s workers in an article that shared the results and recommendations based on Gallup’s 2022 State of the Workplace Report. 

 

You’ll notice a similar theme in another survey by  PwC that found that 1 out of 5 workers are planning to quit their jobs in 2022. The same survey highlighted that pay still ranks first among most important factors to professionals, with finding fulfillment and being yourself as second and third. 

 

But how do you actually find a job that values you for who you are, and where you can find value too?  Find out below. 

“Fulfillment is the process of living a valued life, where one pursues things that matter to them or that they are passionate about. It generally comes from choosing actions that move a person towards what they value, as well as achieving goals that were guided by those values”

– Dr. Jennifer Barbera, PhD (Canada-based Clinical Psychologist) 

Throughout my career, I’ve been blessed to have mostly good to great experiences, where I found value and was valued for being me and for the work that I do. What helped me navigate were key strategies that I was able to validate since becoming a career and leadership coach. I realized that I have already been unconsciously applying research-based career strategies that brought me to where I am now. And I’ve observed how the same worked too for clients I’ve worked with.

 

Here are 5 strategies to help you build a career you love.

CLARIFY YOUR GOALS AND CREATE A CAREER GLOSSARY

 

You have a choice whether to define your own goals and terms, or to let the world define it for you. 

 

Unfortunately though, many professionals still adopt a predefined path for their careers, such as the path their parents or older siblings have taken, a job that seems most logically connected to their college degree, or maybe even the first job offer that came along. 

 

While they might have found success in a predefined path, some are secretly wishing for an alternate career reality (in another universe perhaps? Hello, Dr. Strange!). While others have unknowingly put a cap on what they can do and don’t realize what many other things they can offer and achieve. 

 

Clarify your goals by anchoring it to what’s most important to you now

 

Yes now, not last month, not 5 years ago. What is it that you (as a whole person, not just as a professional) find most meaningful to accomplish? 

 

Create a career glossary by defining your own terms and meaning.

 

  • What does work mean to you? 
  • Where does career fit into your life goals or priorities? 
  • What are your work values?
  • What are your non-negotiables?
  • What keeps you motivated?

TAKE FULL OWNERSHIP OF YOUR CAREER

 

I will never forget a message a few years ago from someone who told me that his manager allegedly ruined his career. When asked when it happened, I was shocked to hear that it happened more than 3 years ago. 

 

Here’s the truth. Your manager is there to guide you and support you in your career, but it’s YOU in the driver’s seat. They are not mind-readers who can tell what’s on your mind, and they are not all-knowing to have visibility and knowledge of anything and everything going on at work.

 

What does this mean to you?

 

This means that you have to speak up. Speak up to clarify how your bonus was computed. Speak up to ask about how you can get promoted. Speak up to let them know that you need support in your new project. Speak up and share your aspirations. 

 

This means that you have to be an active player in your career. Don’t wait for opportunities to land on your lap, get up and seek them. Create a strategy for your career. Look for ways to address your skill gaps or to build new skills.

 

Stop the blame game and start taking full ownership of your career. 

 

BE AWARE OF YOUR STRENGTHS AND HOW TO LEVERAGE ON THEM

 

The good news: You are YOUnique. There is surely something different and great about you to make you stand out.

 

The bad news: Not many people know what makes them unique and great. 

 

Out of more than a hundred professionals I’ve coached in their careers in the past 3 years, I can say that roughly 70% of them* are initially uncertain, unclear or unaware of what unique strengths they bring to the table. While some of them have an idea of what they can do, they sometimes think of these as ordinary or irrelevant, and disregard these abilities when they create their value proposition or define their personal brand. 

 

Being aware of your strengths is only the starting point. The next equally important part is actually knowing how you can leverage them. I remember a powerful conversation I had with a client a couple of years ago where we talked about her being like a high-powered Ferrari but not leveraging it and only running at 20 miles per hour. 

 

How can you gain awareness and leverage on your strengths? 

 

You can take an assessment. My personal favorites which I use for career coaching conversations are the Birkman Assessment and the DISC Assessment. Both of these are very comprehensive and provide input on many different areas, strengths included. (Send me a message to ask me about these.)

 

You can gather feedback. Conduct 360 degree feedback by asking managers, direct reports, peers, clients, etc what things they like about working with you, what they think your unique strengths are, and what they remember most about you. 

 

*Note that this is just a rough estimate, not a formal survey / data collection exercise

 

GROW YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

 

Let’s start with the basics. 

 

Networking is not just for salespeople. Networking is not just for marketing. 

 

I conducted a Networking 101 webinar for 180+ college students where we unpacked what networking is really all about. 

 

The definition of networking points to two key themes: sharing a common ground, and an exchange in the form of ideas, information, opportunities, etc. 

 

So why should you grow your professional network? It’s not just for you to find a job or a client.  It’s for you to build meaningful connections and relationships with people who share the same interests or needs (common ground) and to have a healthy exchange of value that can lead to learning, opportunities, professional partnership (as an employer, supplier, client, mentor)  and more.  

 

How do you network? Connect with those you share a common ground with. Be genuinely curious and interested in people. Think not only about what benefit you’ll gain from them, but also what value you can give them. 

 

BE OPEN TO POSSIBILITIES

 

While we try our best to plan our careers, there will still be things beyond our control and surprises along the way. 

 

So leave room for possibilities as well. Continue to be open and curious to try new things and to challenge yourself every now and then. Who knows, maybe you haven’t discovered yet what you really love to do because you haven’t even tried it yet.

 

READY TO BUILD A CAREER YOU LOVE?

 

Building a career you love doesn’t happen to you by luck. In the same way, being in a job you hate isn’t just bad luck. 

 

Though miracles and serendipitous moments exist, building a meaningful and purposeful career depends on you. This means that you have to be an active player in your career (and life) making intentional choices and actions that bring alignment between your career and what you love and find meaningful. 

 

Start designing your career as a masterpiece instead of just looking for a job that ticks most boxes on your “must have” list. Start with these five strategies and you’ll be on your way to a more fulfilling career that makes the greatness in you shine. 

 

Career coaching helps.

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