True career fulfillment can be elusive—yet not impossible to find. What many people don’t realize is that it’s a process that takes work. The Picassos and Mozarts of the world who have identified their passion by the age of three are few and far between. For most of us, we need to search for it. If you’re lucky, you’ll find not just a job or career but a mission. Here are five essential bits of advice that will help you achieve the career fulfillment that you deserve:
1. Don’t stick with a career just because you’re good at it
Many people feel that they’ve invested so much time and effort into their current careers that it’s not worth considering a new path. Wrong! The secret to finding true career fulfillment is identifying the intersection of what you enjoy and what you’re good at. If you’re great at something that you can’t stand, that’s a recipe for career disaster. Instead of filling you up, your job is going to suck the life (and joy) out of you.
2. Find a career that aligns with your personal values
A disconnect between your values and that of your employer can create a sense of futility and meaninglessness. One example of misalignment would be if your organization is only focused on the bottom line while your main goal is customer satisfaction. A scenario like this will only create stress that eventually will culminate into career dissatisfaction.
3. Consider your career a portfolio rather than a single job
The world of work is changing. No rule says you must stay in one career or job your entire life. In fact, you likely have many talents and interests. Why not turn those into multiple income streams rather than relying on just one?
4. Accept that career paths are not linear
In Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, she describes how career paths aren’t ladders—they’re more like jungle gyms. The old days of go to school, get a good job, work hard and (if you’re lucky) retire when you’re 65 are going by the wayside. Now it’s much more important to remain nimble and flexible. Career paths are no longer etched in stone. Sometimes it takes one step back to take two steps forward.
5. If you want to work for yourself, go for it
There’s never been a better time to consider starting your own business. Many people feel hesitant to take the leap because of the perceived risks, or perhaps they think they are too old. Actually, the opposite is true. A study by the Kauffman Foundation found that entrepreneurs starting businesses mid-career were five times more likely to enjoy success five years later than entrepreneurs starting businesses right out of college. It’s more a question of mindset. The number one thing to remember is that starting a business is like having a baby—there never really is a perfect time.
According to Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team, “Fulfillment is a right and not a privilege. Every single one of us is entitled to feel fulfilled by the work we do, to wake up feeling inspired to go to work, to feel safe when we’re there and to return home with a sense that we contributed to something larger than ourselves. Fulfillment is not a lottery. It is not a feeling reserved for a lucky few who get to say, “I love what I do.”
Follow the advice mentioned above, and you’ll soon find yourself experiencing the career fulfillment that you deserve.