Career Mastery™ Tip
How to Make the Right Career Decisions
When you're looking ahead to your next career moves, it can be tempting to go for the assignments or jobs that everyone wants: the ones that are sought-after by the crowd.
But as one of my bosses said, “be careful what you ask for – sometimes you might just get it”. And if you aren’t thoughtful about your decisions, that’s when you discover that you may not enjoy that sought-after job once you get it. In other words, you end up with a job that you can do well but feels like “hard work” rather than something that energizes and interests you. So, even when you win, you can lose.
To avoid that unhappy situation, you need to be clear on not just what you’re great at, but also what you love doing. When you stay in that sweet spot of activities you “excel at and love”, you set yourself up for greater success – the kind that makes for a great career that brings you (and others) joy.
One of my clients is a successful businessman who has grown a modest company into the best-in-class for that industry. Let’s call him Ben.
As he gets ready to step down to make room for the next generation of leaders, many organizations have approached him to take on senior roles. These are roles that others would love to have at the pinnacle of global industry.
Yet, Ben is not excited about most of them. When we talked about the reasons for his reaction, it became clear that while these were all seemingly great opportunities, they would be using skills he knows he is great at, but which feel like “hard work”; for example, courting investors, traveling to site visits, meticulously executing on the strategy. Those are things he excels at doing but doesn’t love.
Instead, he would rather be devising the strategy, empowering others to execute and making an impact in a new field.
Having gained this clarity, Ben is ready to take a more proactive approach in his search for what he does want: a role that combines what he excels at and also loves.
His insight is: across your career, people will be proposing roles at which they believe you would excel. However, you are the only one who knows which of those you would also love and feel energized to do. Get to know what these are, share it with others, and put yourself in a position to have and make better choices.
Identify the things you do really well. Then separate them into two categories:
- Those you both excel at and love – as in, you could do these for a long time and feel happy.
- Those that you excel at but don’t love – these are often learned behaviors that you do really well, but that can feel like “hard work”.
For your current role, observe how much time you spend on the first category versus the second category. Then, see how you can shift more of your time into the activities you both excel at and love.
If you’re setting up for your next career challenge, then look at the extent to which you can structure that new role or project to maximize your time spent in that “both excel at and love” category.
How could this help your performance and bring more joy to what you do?