Finding a fulfilling career is something everyone can do.
When talking to a friend a few months ago, he told me of someone at his company who for over 8 years felt so much anxiety from his job that he needed to take a special medication just to sleep at night. He was inspired by my friend for having the courage to leave a situation that had caused him so much anxiety for so long. My friend inspired determination to make a positive change for himself and his family.
Hearing this made me immensely sad for him even though we have never met. It cultivated even more desire to help people find fulfilling careers.
No one should have to feel this way about their work. No one.
Many of us, like the person in this story, stay in situations that do not bring purpose or fulfillment. We allow ourselves to believe that work is just meant to be miserable because it’s called work for a reason. I know that I have allowed myself to believe this as truth. The person in this story simply hasn’t given themselves the grace to believe there could be a better way outside his already accepted bubble.
Want to know the real truth?
Every single person should and could have a career they love or gain fulfillment from.
The hard part is that it’s up to us to find it after we recognize that we aren’t currently finding fulfillment. And it is possible.
Here’s a strategy for determining if your career offers fulfillment, and how to find a fulfilling career if it doesn’t.
How do you define career fulfillment?
Before deciding you need to find a different career with more fulfillment, let’s determine if you currently have a fulfilling career.
A great approach is to assess whether your psychological needs are being met. This article sums up really well what those psychological needs are.
- Autonomy – you feel like you have control over events in your day. While you can’t completely avoid surprises, you generally feel in control of what happens to you.
- Competence – you have a natural talent for what you do.
- Being Connected – you feel connected to others, or you generally have good relationships with those around you and you feel appreciated.
One way to determine if these psychological needs are being met is to list all the things you do in a given day or week. Designate each of those things either as ‘Get to do’s’ or ‘Have to do’s’ based on how you feel when you have to do them.
If your ‘get to do’s’ outnumber your ‘have to do’s’, chances are these three psychological needs are being met for you.
If they don’t, see if you can find a way to delegate or manage some of your ‘have to do’s’ from your list. If that isn’t possible, it is time to consider a change to a more fulfilling and rewarding career.
Here are 4 steps you can take to finding a fulfilling career if your psychological needs are not being met
Step 1: Define your ‘why’
Defining your ‘why’ means finding out what gives you purpose in life.
Most of us don’t face this question head-on because it sounds pretty heavy and intimidating. It doesn’t have to be. A good friend once offered a great tip to make this easy.
All you need to do is get some quiet space and a blank piece of paper. Write down the statement ‘I am put on this Earth to…’. Just keep writing anything you want until you can’t write anymore.
If this is still too heavy, here’s a simpler and lighter way to find it: take the list of ‘get to do’s’ you made earlier and use that as things that leave you feeling purpose.
Step 2: Find places where you can use your ‘why’
Next, find careers, trades, roles, organizations, or areas where you can express your defined purpose. Remember, this isn’t confined to a very specific job or task. There are many different roles and careers out there that can fulfill what brings you purpose.
15 years ago, when working in restaurants, I would not have believed you if you said I’d be helping people with interview coaching or employers with making great hires. But helping others thrive by setting themselves up to be happy and have great experiences is my purpose. Both restaurants and interview coaching use a skillset that meets this purpose.
Step 3: Seek advice from those who can help you achieve your purpose
From here, you can start reaching out to experts in the field or already in organizations you are interested in. Simply introduce yourself, explain why you are interested, and ask them if they have any advice on finding a career in the field. DO NOT ASK THEM TO GET YOU A JOB. That question signals self-servitude, not the fulfillment of purpose.
Simply ask for any advice they may have to get involved. They will point you in the right direction if you are genuine, which sometimes can lead to an offer for a role or open doors that you may not have previously thought possible.
Step 4: Take measurable steps to get started.
Last, start taking practical steps towards the work you love. The first move in doing this is always the hardest. If you can get past the first step, you are committed and the subsequent steps get much easier.
If it’s a role or job, begin applying. If it requires training, education, or certification, find out when and how to apply to receive it. If it’s starting your own business, make a roadmap to get it off the ground.
But promise yourself this. Do not beat yourself up if it takes time or if you can’t move the ball 100 yards every day. Move the ball 1 yard at a time. Do your best and give yourself the grace to not have everything immediately perfect.
And if you need help, or just an ear along the way, I am here for you.