Stop whatever you’re doing. Ask yourself this question: How aligned are your aspirations with your career? Only when they are in sync will you feel fulfilled, centered and successful. Read on!
As simple as this may sound, it’s an issue that affects a large percentage of people, particularly women. Why? Because many of us are so busy pushing forward with our lives and professional careers that we don’t take the time to stop and reevaluate where we are and how we are feeling about it. And if we find that we are not happy, even fewer of us commit to making the necessary changes to redirect our careers.
How to identify potential misalignments?
There are several symptoms that point to a lack of alignment. Here are a few to watch out for:
- Frustration at not getting what you want
- Envy of other people’s achievements
- Anger at the huge effort you have to make to get anything from recognition to a promotion
- Feeling frequently tired, in a bad mood, or lack enthusiasm for your job
I saw it recently in a highly educated, very smart colleague who was complaining about working too much and not having enough to show for it. When we dived deeper into the reasons why she thought this was happening, I could hear that her goals and her professional activity were not in sync. She wanted to achieve A but was putting a lot of efforts in a direction that pointed her to B. As we continued our conversation it became evident that she experienced a similar pattern in other aspects of her life.
How to do less and achieve more. A great read!
How to align your aspirations and your career goals
There is a process by which you synchronize your intention with your attention. You see, when you are not clear about what you want, your attention is dispersed. You get pulled into a million different directions, as you have no sense of priority or what serves your purpose. It becomes more about staying busy, occupying your mind than anything else. Now when you define what it is you want, what truly gives you a sense of fulfillment, then you develop a sharp focus.
Here’s a simple way to go about it: Spell out what you want
The best way to stop envying other people’s lives and successes is by zeroing in on what you want and how willing you are to get it. Because these two things go hand in hand. You may want to live in a four-bedroom home overlooking the ocean but not willing to do anything to change your current five-digits salary. So, grab a notebook and a pen. Sit in a quiet place. As a header write “The career I want.”
Then write 100 things that you want your career to be like. Describe in detail (one detail per line) the kind of job you want, the type of activities you’d like to do, the sort of bosses, colleagues, organization’s culture, industry, how far from home you are willing to go, and so on. The more detailed you are, the better.
This exercise works for all different aspects of life and work. You could create the same kind of list for an executive search your company is conducting or for a romantic partner.
It works incredibly well because when you’ve written down 50 things, and you think you have nothing else to add to the list, more items pop up until you have an incredibly sharp idea of what you’re looking for. What would fulfill you and what would not. It helps you keep your goals front and center and this in turns helps you make better decisions. You learn how to say no to things that would derail you and yes to things that will contribute to your objectives.
The more deliberate you are in your choices, the more your life and your career get aligned with your goals and this is the shortest path to achieving them. It also keeps the focus on you and your attainments rather than on other people and theirs. Thus reducing your envious impulses or any sense of not being good enough or deserving enough to get what you want.
Try it and then let me know how it goes. Sometimes the simplest solutions unexpectedly bring us the biggest satisfaction.
And if you’d like help with this process, consider our Step Up Program.