On the Right Path: Aligning Your Career and Life Goals
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn
In general, we all want to be successful in life and we typically work hard to meet this goal. For most of us, this means striving to succeed in our career. But what happens when our definition of career success is not aligned with our definition of a successful life?
All too often, working adults view success through the lens of money, power or career progression. We are often looking ahead to the next promotion, the next pay increment, the next job title. But what about feeling happy at work? What about having a career that allows time for family holidays or reaching home early enough to play with our children after work?
Amid the never-ending rush of projects and deadlines, it’s a lot easier to simply stay on the path we’re currently on. However, we have only one life to live, so it is important to ensure we are living it with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. And given how much of our time we spend working, the best way to do this is to ensure that our career is aligned with our vision of a successful life.
Looking inside to find direction
If you work in a large organisation or a highly structured industry, there may be a clear trajectory mapped out for someone in your position. But why should you follow this path simply because it’s there?
When designing a fulfilling career, it’s important to start by looking inside yourself. What are you passionate about? What are your values? Are there patterns in your background up to this point that can help you better understand the areas where you tend to excel and the working environment that leaves you with the greatest satisfaction?
Rather than looking at your company’s organisational chart to see what your next step should be, this kind of introspection is helpful in visualising your ideal career.
Of course, knowing where you’d like to go is one thing; understanding how to get there is another. This is where outside input and support can play a valuable role. Once you have an idea of the type of career move you want to make, speaking with others already doing what you’d like to do – for example, via information interviews – is a good way to learn more before taking the leap.
Adapting in pursuit of opportunities
In one of our previous “In the Flow” interviews, we spoke with master furniture-maker Kenneth Lim. While he has enjoyed a successful career spanning more than four decades, Kenneth explained that he has not followed a safe, linear path to reach the position he is in today. Instead, he has had to adapt and take risks – to survive, to thrive and to find fulfilment.
Faced with many challenges over the years, from economic downturns to major shifts in the furniture preferences of his customers, Kenneth has overcome them by embracing change: “A lot of us want only comfortable jobs. We have to be willing to get our hands dirty. So take on dirty jobs and work hard. We also have to adapt to the changing environment. There are always opportunities when you innovate.”
In our rapidly evolving world, change is unavoidable. From a career perspective, this can lead to stress and upheaval, but also opportunity. It is up to
you to recognise when to pivot, and not to be afraid to take the plunge.