When it comes to your career, it's easy to take one of two Career Advancement Options:
- Go through your career blindly, taking whatever comes your way
- Overanalyze your career until you find the perfect fit
Career Advancement Option #1 means that you fly by the seat of your pants. While this can be freeing, it means that you aren't in the driver's seat taking control of your career.
Career Advancement Option #2 means that you are working so hard to find the right career, you aren't trusting that the Universe will present you with appropriate career options.
The most difficult one is the yet-to-be-mentioned Career Advancement Option #3. It is a middle-of-the-road and often underused option. Option #3 allows you to Drive with Purpose: find a career that is meaningful and make changes as needed to fit your changing personal, professional, and spiritual goals in life.
After going through a few different careers myself (biomedical sciences, high finance, insurance, and now information technology), I know what I'm talking about when it comes to those three options. I have adopted (and continue to adopt) all three at different points in my life.
- I fall into Career Advancement Option #1 when I am fed up with what is going on and think that my efforts won't make a difference.
- Career Advancement Option #2 becomes a reality if I feel absolutely certain of what I should be doing and want to orchestrate it for myself.
- Career Advancement Option #3, although requiring more effort, brings the most career fulfillment for me and does the best job of meeting my personal, professional, and spiritual needs.
Our human needs can best be described via Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The lower level needs are the more basic ones that need to be satisfied first:
- Physiological Needs
- Security Needs
- Social Needs
- Esteem Needs
- Self-actualizing Needs
Career advancement would most likely fall in Level 4 or 5. In a nutshell, if you haven't eaten, you aren't too worried about personal growth activities!
Until now, I hadn't seen a similar model for assessing our career needs. I came across an article called "Beyond Wall Street and Sand Hill Road: Career Fulfillment for Bright Young Things" by Don Fornes, Founder & CEO, Software Advice. He has a nice breakdown called "A Hierarchy of Career Fulfillment". The article is geared toward young adults entering high finance. I encourage you to read it even if you're in a different industry since it contains some key insights on why we do the work that we do (i.e. it isn't (and shouldn't be) just about money.)
Are you able to answer "yes" to all of these questions about your career? If not, which ones are a "no" for you? Are there other questions that you would include? Or maybe you would place the questions in a different order.
Remember that you won't always be able to answer "yes" to all of these questions. Even if you have a "dream job", there will be days when you wonder what you got yourself into! That isn't always a reason to bail, however. Look at your current situation as a whole. Only you can decide what you need to feel fulfilled.
Try using this model to make it easier to adopt Career Advancement Option #3 allowing you to Drive with Purpose and find a career that is meaningful.
On this 10th anniversary of September 11th, I am struck by many things. Today I'll talk about my personal reflections. I can't believe what a different life I lead now. And I can't believe how that event indirectly shaped my career path and personal life.
Please know that I always feel weird telling this story because it seems trivial in light of the tragedies that happened. Yet, it is something that I feel compelled to share. I hope this inspires you to find the many more powerful, inspirational stories that can help you make sense of the day.
A little over ten years ago, I was working at a mutual fund company in Denver whose headquarters was in the World Trade Center. I worked for the quality assurance team in their call center. I wasn't entirely happy with my job and wanted something different. After researching the different opportunities that were available in the company, I settled on applying to become a call center trainer. It looked like a fun job to me and I knew I had the qualifications.
On that Monday, September 10th, I turned in my job application to the local Human Resources Department and felt confident about the possibilities. Then, Tuesday rolled around. Of course, the office was chaotic. We were preparing for an onslaught of phone calls from shareholders wondering what was happening with their money. Instead, the call center was eerily silent. We were all glued to the televisions as we wondered what was happening to our fellow employees in the North Tower. Somehow all of our co-workers made it out of the building before it fell. Our bosses told our department to stay home the rest of the week because there really wasn't anything for us to do.
So, there I was at home staying glued to the television with my fear of leaving the house increasing every minute. My boyfriend at the time used to travel around the country as a corporate trainer for a different company. He was supposed to fly out to St. Louis on September 11th. But the training class was changed, so he flew out the day before. Since air traffic was grounded for over a week, he wasn't able to fly home as planned at the end of that week. It was strange being at home by myself all that time without being able to share this experience with him. That weekend, he rented a car and drove over 12 hours to make it home.
Things at work somewhat settled down after several weeks. It was around that time that I saw an announcement about the new trainers that were selected for the call center trainer positions. My name was not on the list. Being the overachiever that I am, I decided to check in with HR to find out why I wasn't selected and why I didn't even get the chance to interview. The HR associate looked through her paperwork and found that she didn't even have my job application on file. She asked when I turned it in. I told her it was on September 10th. She paused and then apologized saying that it must have gotten lost in all of the chaos.
I was upset, but after reflecting on things, I realized that this must have happened for a reason. It was also at that time that my boyfriend and I felt like we shouldn't waste time in our lives. We had been talking about getting married. Once he got back that weekend, our talks started to become more of a reality. We were married the following year and are still going strong. We also talked about what we really wanted to do career-wise and began to take steps toward becoming entrepreneurs. That became a reality in 2003.
On this anniversary, I was glued to the TV again, but this time watching the memorial events. As I listened to the stories of families and friends affected by the tragedies, I am reminded of many things:
The "stresses" in my life that really aren't that stressful
How quickly your life and the world can change
How important it is not to waste time on trivial things, but focus on your dreams and how you can achieve them
The importance of family and friends during the happy and sad times
I hope that my story can help you find a glimmer of hope and positivity today to help you move forward in your life.