Our career choices are one of the most difficult task we normally face after spending years of hard work and disciplines to study in the university or any other higher institutions. Most often we dive into a career path that doesn’t align with our lives goals and dreams, because we only just want to get by, not thriving to develop a career path that will aligns with our core values of existence to have a great lifestyle. Sometimes, we choose a career path because we think we don’t have power over our career choices. At times, we end up pursuing a career path that often make us forget the real dreams and passions we once have for ourselves , which cloud our thinking abilities and forces us to let go of true core values. We play it safe in the real world, because we’ve allowed our consciousness to be weakened by the phobia of scarcity and security. We’ve been pushed out of congruence from our inner-self to live like a mouse, not like human beings anymore.
I see a lot of people experiencing difficulties lately pursuing a career path that doesn’t motivate them. They spend the bulk of their days working at a job that isn’t part of their consciously chosen career. We were once told, once you graduate from school and join the work force, get a job and start pursuing a career path in that field of life. But we forget that, we don’t suddenly gain the knowledge of what kind of career to build. Most likely we just focus on getting a job as our first step after school maybe to be above our equals or to prove to certain group of people that we’re more fortunate than them. We probably make this choices in our 20s. After a decade or two, we established a pattern of work and built up some expertise in that field. We just do that without consciously looking into our core values to ask ourselves what’s our career? How can we align career with our core values to sharpen a great lifestyle?
What is your career? Forget about how you define this to others for now, and just think for a bit about how you define your career to yourself. What does it mean to you to have a career? Is it just your job? Is it something you do to make a living? Is it what you do for money? Is it your work?
Most people would define a career as more than a job. Above and beyond a job, a career is a long-term pattern of work, usually across multiple jobs. A career implies professional development to build skill over a period of time, where one moves from novice to expert within a particular field. And lastly, I would argue that a career must be consciously chosen; even if others exert influence over you, you must still ultimately choose to become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. If you didn’t make a conscious choice at some point, I would then say you have a job but not a career.
What are your core values, and why are they important to consider when evaluating your career options? Your core values are principles that you find desirable, important or even essential. An alignment between your career and your core values produces satisfaction, a sense of happiness and fulfillment. A misalignment can cause can everything from minor problems to major disruptions. We tend to focus on what society, social media, and external forces say they should be such as being the best, looking good, or wealth.
Sometimes when you ask people what their career is (instead of asking what their job is), the question makes them uncomfortable. Why? Because they think of a career as something intentionally chosen, purposeful, and meaningful, and they don’t see those qualities in their job. Another possibility is that they feel deep down that their real career lies elsewhere.
Just because you’ve been working in a field for many years doesn’t mean you have to turn that pattern of work into your career. The past is the past. You can continue to run the same pattern and follow that same path into the future, but at any time you’re also free to make a total break with the past and turn yourself onto an entirely new career path in the future. Ask yourself if you were starting over from scratch today, fresh out of school, would you still choose the same line of work? If the answer is no, then you only have a job right now, not a career. Your career lies elsewhere.
Early last year, I took time to visualize about my career path since I started working after graduating from the University. Mind you, I have a degree in Industrial Chemistry in 2011, from Abia State University, Uturu and currently doing my Masters degree in Environmental Chemistry in Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike. And for once, I have never worked for any chemical industry or production company, I only did my Industrial Training Scheme (I.T) in a foam manufacturing company because it was in partial fulfillment of my course back then in school. My first contract job with KPMG after graduating from the University was Questionnaire administrator for their Banking industry Customer Service Survey questionnaire, which lasted for only three months. After that, I took up a teaching job in a nearby Secondary to keep myself busy as a Mathematics and Chemistry teacher. The teaching job lasted for only a period of 8 months. During the teaching job, I kept applying for other opportunities because I didn’t see myself teaching for a long time. Around early September, 2014 I was contracted by a recruiting firm to do another contract job for Access Bank as bulk teller. I did the job for few months, but because of the terms and conditions attached to the job I opened myself up again for new opportunities. On February, 2015 another opportunity came, to work with Oche MFB Limited as a Loan processing and Verification officer, Loan Monitoring and Recovery Officer and later resigned as Business development Officer. I worked for there for 3 years from 2015 till 2018; which I later resigned in May, 2018 to start up my own business. And since then I’ve been venturing into different businesses to support myself and earn a good standard of living without a day job.
During the stages of my working career path from teaching to banking jobs I never tag myself career as a Mathematics teacher or a banker because I know within myself that I’m not going to work as an employee for long. I have a bigger dream and purpose for my life. I’m grateful for the opportunities I had working for the places and organizations; I worked because of the exposure and experiences I gained from them
The solution I found after self examination from my past working experience was to look behind the labels and discover the core of my career. When I looked behind the labels of a Mathematics Teacher, Bank Teller, Loan processing and Verification Officer, Loan Monitoring and Recovery Officer and Business development, I saw that the core of my career was helping people. And doing just that is the real purpose behind what I was doing before now. I had grown to the point in my own life where I felt that being just an employee for life was no longer the BEST way for me to contribute. My career path is very bigger than just sitting in an air conditioned office, just to rock the boat and does what someone think and wish I should be doing every day.
For me, I see my career path as something I have power over it not something that has power over me; something someone out there would always tell me what to do. My career is something that keeps me up late at night while others are sleep to write and share Ideas in my blog website and I enjoy doing it. I can even do it without someone paying me to do it. My career is something that should send me on a path I’ve risk being broke, being alone with my thoughts and go for it to sharpen my lifestyle. My career must get new definition of me every day from what people used to know me for as person not a tag from a place of work; like most people still call me the Banker till today even as I’m not working in the bank anymore.
Think about this for a moment. What is the core of your career? What do you contribute? What is the big picture of what you do? If you work for a large company, then how do your actions contribute to some larger purpose? Be honest with yourself. And don’t ignore the role your company plays in your career; your career depends heavily on what you’re contributing down the line. If you truly assign a noble purpose to what you do, that’s great. For example, if you work at a grocery store, you might be inspired by the fact that you help feed people. But don’t force it if you don’t actually believe it. If you feel your contribution is weak or even negative, then admit that to yourself, even if you don’t immediately plan to do anything about it.
Go behind the labels. Don’t stop at defining your career as computer programmer or lawyer or doctor. What are you contributing as a computer programmer? How does your career make a difference in other people’s lives? Is it nothing more than a way for you to make money? As a lawyer do you resolve disputes and spread peace, or do you milk conflict for money? As a doctor do you heal people, or are you just a legal drug pusher? What is the essence of your career right now?
Now when you have your answer, you next have to ask yourself, is this you? Is this truly a career that reflects the best of who you are as a person?
For example, if you see the real purpose behind your current line of work as making a handful of investors wealthier… nothing more noble than that… then is that an accurate reflection of your best contribution? Is that you?
If you already have a career that accurately reflects the best of who you are, that’s wonderful. But if you don’t, then realize that you’re free to change it. I think if you realize that your current work doesn’t fit who you are, then you have to make a choice. You have to decide if you deserve having a career that truly suits you. If you don’t feel you deserve it, then you will settle for defining your career in such narrow terms as job, money, paycheck, promotion, boss, coworkers, etc. No one is forcing you to accept that as your definition of career.
On the other hand, you can choose to embrace another definition of career that uses terms like purpose, calling, contribution, meaning, abundance, happiness, fulfillment, etc. This requires a top-down approach. You first think hard about what your purpose here is… what kind of contribution do you want to make with your life? Once you figure that out, then you work down to the level of how to manifest that in terms of the work you do.
The problem though is thinking that these are the only alternatives… thinking that you have to make a choice between money and happiness. That assumption is what causes the paralysis against action. You can also envision the third alternative of having money and happiness together. In fact, that’s actually the most likely outcome. If you don’t currently have a career that is deeply fulfilling to you in the sense that you know you’re contributing in a way that matters, then deep down, you will sabotage yourself from going too far with it. You will always know that you’re on the wrong path for you, and this is going to slap a demotivating slump over everything you try to do in that line of work. You’ll do your job, but you’ll never feel that you’re really living up to your potential. You’ll always have problems with procrastination and weak motivation, and they’ll never be resolved no matter how many time management strategies you attempt. Your job will never feel like a truly satisfying career — it just can’t grow into that because you’ve planted your career tree in bad soil. You’ll always be stuck with as it fades away.
But how do you make this transition? Is a leap of faith required? Not really. I don’t think of it as a leap of faith. It’s more of a leap of courage, and it’s a logical kind of courage, not an emotional one. It comes down to making a decision about how important your own happiness and fulfillment are to you. Really, how important is it for you to have meaningful, fulfilling work? Is it OK for you to continue working at a job that doesn’t allow you to contribute the very best of who you are? If you find yourself in such a situation, then your answer is yes — you’ve made it OK for you to tolerate this situation.
But you see… self-actualizing people who successfully make this leap will at some point conclude that it’s definitely not OK. In fact, it’s intolerable. They wake up and say, “Wait a minute here. This is absolutely; totally unacceptable for me to be spending the bulk of my time at a job that isn’t a deeply fulfilling career. I can’t keep doing this. This ends now.”
I want to drive home this point. Having a fulfilling career that earns you plenty of money doesn’t require a leap of faith. It only requires a choice. You just have to wake up one day and tell yourself that you deserve both, and that you won’t settle for anything less. It’s not about finding the right job. A career isn’t something you find; it doesn’t require someone to give you something. You aren’t at the mercy of circumstances. A career is something you create, something you build. It means that the work you do each day is aligned with what you feel to be your purpose. Once you start doing this kind of work, even if for no pay initially, your self-esteem will grow to the point where you’ll become so resourceful and open to new opportunities that you’ll have no trouble making plenty of money from it. However, when you do so, the money won’t be that important. It will just be a resource for you to do more of what you love.
Your life is too precious to waste working only for money or for a purpose that doesn’t inspire you. No one can hold you back from making this decision but you. Especially don’t hide behind your family’s needs. If your family truly loves you, then they need you to be fulfilled and living on purpose far more than anything else. And if you love them, then isn’t your greatest role to serve as a model to them of how to be happy? What would you want for your own children for their careers? And do you want the same for yourself?
I wish I could say that I knew from a young age what I valued in life and what I wanted to do with my career. It took many years and multiple jobs for me to understand myself, my values and the importance of keeping those things in alignment with the work I did. For me, I think the answer was there for a long time, but I just didn’t see it. I must have been looking for a great cataclysmic event to make things clear. There was no earthquake that produced a sign saying, “This way is your personal path to career happiness!” In hindsight, understanding my values shouldn’t have been such a mystery.
It’s not too late to make a conscious choice today to live from your core values to sharpen your lifestyle. No one will save you, only you know how you feels about yourself.
Until next time, Live Exceptionally!