• How to live a meaningful life: Career passion 3 – Creating your passion path

    October 17, 2017 | curtrosengren

    love your work

    In part 2 of this post on finding meaning via career passion, we looked at how to create an internal compass, a tool you can use to point the way towards passion in your career.

    In this post, we’re going to look at how to use that tool to sculpt your current job, generate ideas for possible paths, and evaluate opportunities.

    [Back to the How to Live a Meaningful Life main page.]

    As a quick reminder, that inner compass is made of the underlying themes you identified that tend to be there when you feel energized and engaged (the reasons why you love what you love).

    There are several ways you can use that internal compass to take the guesswork out of career path exploration efforts:

    1. Sculpt your current job
    2. Brainstorm potential paths
    3. Evaluate potential paths
    4. Identify and evaluate opportunities
    5. Give your boss a “passion guidance system”

    Sculpt your current job

    The first opportunity to move towards what energizes you is with your current job. Having had a front row seat on a lot of people’s careers, I can tell you that most jobs are much more malleable than we might realize, especially over time.

    You can use that internal compass to take a look at your current job and do a “passion audit” of sorts. As you do, ask these questions:

    • Where is my job in alignment with those underlying themes? (i.e., where do I get a chance to experience them?)
    • How can I build on that? How can I bring more of that into my days?
    • Where is my job out of alignment with those themes?
    • How can I reduce or even eliminate the aspects of my job that are out of alignment with those themes?

    The goal isn’t to make a huge dramatic change and turn a crap job into a dream job. It’s simply to take advantage of whatever opportunity you find to move your experience at work in a positive direction. Even a 20% improvement is better than no improvement.

    Brainstorm potential paths

    The second way to use that internal compass is as a springboard for exploration of potential career paths.

    Ask, “In what careers would I have the opportunity to experience these energizers?”

    I think of the process of identifying a new, more energizing career path as a two-stage funneling process. The first part is filling the funnel. That’s where brainstorming comes in. The second stage is using your internal compass to evaluate ideas.

    Trying to come up with ideas that have all the underlying themes in your compass is a recipe for brainlock, so I suggest a different approach to it. Take one energizer at a time (for example, one of my core energizers is “exploration and discovery”) and brainstorm as many jobs/career paths as you can think of that would allow you to experience that.

    With exploration and discovery, I might come up with ideas like coaching, travel photography, private investigator, research scientist, and genealogist.

    Those have varying degrees of appeal to me, but at this stage of the game that doesn’t matter. We’re just casting the net wide and expanding the universe of possibility in this funnel-filling stage. As with any brainstorming process, resist the urge to say no here.

    The goal of the funneling down process is to distill your options to the ones that are chock full of your energizers. You’ll get plenty of opportunity for that in that stage.

    Evaluate potential career paths

    Now that you have filled your funnel with a bazillion ideas for career paths, each of which has at least one of the energizers from your inner compass, it’s time to start funneling down.

    Understanding your energizers takes a lot of the guess work out of the process, giving your something tangible to refer to as you evaluate possibilities.

    There are three steps:

    1. Get rid of everything you know you don’t want to do.
    2. Use the compass as a filter. Look at each possibility and ask, “How well does this stack up against each of these energizers?”
    3. Cut it down to a short list (3 – 5) to do a deep dive into, researching, doing informational interviews, etc. (This is also the time when you start incorporating, “Is this feasible?” into the evaluation.)

    The goal by the bottom of the funnel is to get down to an option that has a high density of your energizers.

    Identify and evaluate choices and opportunities

    Remember how I mentioned that most jobs are pretty malleable over time? Even when you’re on the right track, you can take advantage of that fact.

    Your internal compass gives you a concrete and tangible way to evaluate your career decisions – both the big ones like career path choice and the small ones like, “Do I say yes to that project?” – in terms of the question, “How likely is this to energize me?”

    Over time, those decisions add up, both moving you towards a greater passion in your work and keeping you on track once you’re there.

    Passion Guidance System

    One last way you can use your understanding of your energizers is to share them with your current manager to help him or her guide you in a direction that maximizes the likelihood that you will feel energized by your work.

    Think of it as making your boss’ job easier. Part of their job is to get the most from the resources available. The more energized you are by your work, the better you are likely to perform. And the more they understand what energizes you, the better equipped they are to steer what you do in that direction

    How to live a meaningful life: Career passion 1 – What is passion?

    How to live a meaningful life: Career passion 2 – Identifying your energizers

    Like what you see? Subscribe to this blog here!

    Got stress?

    Download my ebook, The Aliveness CODE First-Aid Kit, FREE!