Knowing what you want from a job or career is not enough.
Yesterday I talked with a woman, Dawn, who is rapidly approaching burn out on her job and career. She considers leaving her job every few years, wanting more, but doesn’t take any action because she is afraid she doesn’t know what she wants. As we talked, it became clear that Dawn does know what she wants. Five years ago, she decided she wanted to have children. She wanted a house and family and a lifestyle that revolved around that. She was working at a job that paid her well, enabling her to save money for a house. The company also was very supportive of working mothers, and offered great maternity benefits and childcare. While she hated what she did at her job, these other elements made it worth it for her to stay. Instead of leaving, Dawn looked for creative ways to make the job bearable. She volunteered for new projects, and ultimately transferred to another department.
Today, Dawn is a working mom with a house, who loves her family. She also very clearly is burning out on her job and career. Now she is truly ready to find work she loves. As we talked, she was angry with herself for staying so long. But the truth is she understood that a job, a career, needs to fit into your life, not define it. Five years ago, staying allowed her to pursue other dreams for her life, so staying was a good option for her. Her life has a different form today than five years ago. Today, leaving is the good option. Today she is eager and ready to unearth what type of work would feel great doing. She is ready to move forward toward a job and career she loves.
It is important to know what you want from your life, what is important to you over all. Then choose a job and career that support your dreams and goals for your life. If you’re not sure what that is, this exercise can help. My favorite exercise, the Ideal Day Exercise*, is one that allows to you dream about what you truly want from your life, today. Let’s take a look at it now.
Take a moment to imagine your life in 1 to 5 years from today. Imagine what an ideal day in your life at that time will be like. Where are you? What are you doing? How do you feel? Who are you spending your time with? Imagine your day from the moment you wake up all the way through the moment you drift off to sleep at night. Imagine this ideal day in detail – what does it look like? What does it smell like? What sounds do you hear?
Now, write it all down. Take special note of anything that surprises you.
(Note: I believe you receive maximum benefit from this by being very specific. However, I have had clients approach this by doing an outline – and also got what they needed from this exercise.)
Once you know what you want, you can imagine how your career and job fit into your ideal day. Part of knowing what job you want involves knowing how it fits into the life you truly want.
What have you discovered about what you want from your ideal life? How does your ideal job fit into your life?