Our careers can be a source of great pride, fun and fulfillment, but our work can also be a source of frustration and disappointment.
And sometimes, just downright painful.
We all want the freedom to pursue work that fulfills our passions and interests, stokes our creativity and possesses enough autonomy to make it challenging.
Doing work aligned with our values, beliefs, passions and skills is the essence of Career Freedom.
But, what if you are there just for the paycheck? What if your career is void of personal fulfillment, dominated by bad leadership or just plain boring? What once seemed interesting and exciting has now lost its luster. Where does that leave you?
It most likely leaves you tired and burned out, wondering how that happened and what to do next.
Keep reading, because these 3 pillars of career freedom will provide some insight as to what to do next.
Pillar 1 – Mission and Purpose
Do you have a career purpose or mission? What impact do you want to have on the world and how do you want to deliver that impact?
Your career purpose or mission is your light house, your beacon. It is what you get up for every morning.
I know, it can be overwhelming to think about as most of us are just trying to keep our head above water. Mission and purpose are big terms that imply something magical or worldly. They don’t have to be. Your career purpose just needs to be personal to you.
What problem in the world today gets you angry?
What problem in your community gets you fired up?
What problem in your neighborhood gets you moving into action?
What problem in your current company gets you curious?
Your career story may give you some insight to those moments where you were fired up, engaged and contributing at your highest.
What was a peak moment in your career? Describe it in detail including the factors that made it a peak moment.
Your curiosity is also another place to look. What do you want to learn about? What do you love to talk about? What do you do without anyone asking? What would you do without making any money and do just for the pure joy of doing?
Pillar 2 – Clarity
While mission and purpose are clearly important, lack of career clarity is likely your biggest source of frustration and lack of fulfillment at work.
Most of us decided on a career based on advice from a parent or teacher or maybe a friend. At some point you needed to work and the need for a paycheck overwhelmed the need to find a career that stoked your internal passions or leveraged your natural gifts and talents.
It is very likely you did not take the time or energy to create career clarity. You went to college, because, well that was the expectation. You were expected to study a field that somewhat guaranteed employment or at least a shot at making a decent living. (Money is a poor measure for job fulfillment.)
My degree was in accounting and finance – not even sure why I picked that other than my dad telling me every business needs someone to count the money (think job security). He was right, but not sure it was right for me.
There are two areas that will provide clarity: Genius Zone and Environment.
Genius Zone. What are your specific talents, gifts and skills? What problems do you like to solve? I am not talking about specific technical or hard skills. What is it that you do so well that only others can see it? Go grab a co-worker or someone who knows you well professionally, ask them what sets you apart and what you excel at that they value.
Those that operate in their genius zone will be more fulfilled and satisfied and guess what, perform better.
Environment. The most undervalued aspect of your work is where, when and how you get to do that work.
Here are just a few aspects of environment you should consider:
Company Culture and Characteristics
What are the norms, values and beliefs of the company? How are they demonstrated?
How do they like to get work done? Teamwork oriented or more value on individual contributions.
Local? International operations?
Is this culture going to be a good fit for you and your genius to operate?
Industry norms and conditions. (Retail, Manufacturing, Education, Healthcare Government, i.e.)
Physical and Space Factors
Space layout – cubicles, offices, windows, inside, outside, loud, quiet… you get the point. These variables can have a huge impact on your work and overall productivity.
Have you ever walked into a building and you said, wow, this just feels right? That is paying attention to the environmental factors. There are many, I am sure you can think of others and develop a list of your preferences.
Do not underestimate the impact of working in your genius zone and the right work environment.
Pillar 3 – Connection
Do you feel connected internally to your career?
Are you the first one to the office or the first one to leave at the end of the day? Ever have that feeling you just need to get out? Ever have that feeling of utter relief to be going home from work? Ever ask what am I doing here? Does your work bore you? Does it feel dull?
If you resonated with any of those feelings, your disconnected from your career and work.
Why is this important?
Our emotional life is the truth and realness of our day to day life. Emotions guide us, along with our beliefs, thoughts, decisions and choices. If you are feeling emotions of joy, passion, freedom, contentment and well-being at work, you are likely very connected to your work.
Does that happen for 8 hours a day? Probably not, but the overall feelings and emotions generated by going to work and doing the work are likely the biggest indication of being connected or disconnected from your career.
Do you find yourself downplaying your job when someone asks you about your career? Or, are you enthusiastic and on fire? Connected or disconnected?
Are you connected to the mission of your company? Do you even care? Connected or disconnected?
Do you get to be yourself at work or do you have to compromise your values or beliefs? Connected or disconnected?
Tip – Check your energy level at the end of a typical workday.
Has your work today left you energized or fully depleted? We all know the difference between feeling tired but energized (the good tired) compared to feeling worn out and exhausted.
Being connected internally to your work matters.