Discover Your Internal Compass

What do you want from work other than the obvious things? You need to make a living but there’s so much more to work other than financial compensation. Many of us fall into paths based on what those close to them did, what seemed good at the time, or what someone said would be a good choice. Such decisions came from the brain but neglected the heart - and desires are very much based on emotions.

Perhaps, you never considered what would make you look forward to work. No one else is exactly like you with the same talents, knowledge, skills, personality, preferences, etc. to offer the work world with what you want to give. You're unique - That presents a challenge. You can't just follow any path if you are to meet all of your needs. 

So, you have to discover your own way. And your journey starts with you - not the outside world. You need a connection to your internal compass to guide your actions. It’s a connection to who you are and what you care about. Without it, you may feel adrift because you’d feel disconnected from yourself. 

You begin by uncovering your desires, the source of your energy to act. When you connect to your desires, you have the strength to persist despite obstacles in your way. If you ignore them, you’ll feel dissatisfied depending upon how important they are to you. For example, perhaps, you have special talents that yearn for expression. Those longings will stay with you and feel stifled until you acknowledge them.

Many career programs start with what you have in terms of skills and strengths to match you with particular occupations. It's worth considering because what you're good at may shine a light on what you enjoy - but not necessarily. Perhaps, you don’t much care about using those skills and there’s something else you’d much prefer. Or perhaps you have a yearning to do something different even if you enjoyed what you’ve done so far.

That’s why it's best to connect with what you want and then look outside to identify desirable opportunities. You can then fill in the details with what you have to work with to come up with possibilities. This will give an internal compass so you can focus on appropriate choices and and make your best decision.

Start with what matters to you - what’s worth doing that will let you make the contribution you want to make? Is there something you really care about, or something that makes you angry enough to do something about it? What themes do you see in your work that make you feel enthused to go to work?

What kind of activities and subject matter do you relish? Dr. Timothy Butler of Harvard University proposed eight career themes, called Deeply Embedded life interests (DELI), that match personality aspects with desired activities and interests - you must have opportunities to engage in the ones you prefer if you are to be happy in your work. The Holland Code of Occupations is a bit similar because it suggest activities that align with a three letter code of top interest preferences. Myers-Briggs personality types also suggest interest in particular kinds of activities so they can suggest types of work you'd prefer.

There's also the matter of how you see yourself. Your identity influences the things you want to do and not do. What kind of person do you want to be? There’s power in doing things that align with your aspirational self.  If you’d like to be an inspirational leader, then you’ll be motivated to engage in inspirational behaviors. If you see yourself as an achiever, you’ll be motivated to set and achieve goals. If you want to see yourself as an humanitarian, you’ll be motivated to act in kind and compassionate ways.  The opposite is also true - if you don't see yourself a certain way, you won't feel authentic in the role. So, claim your desired identity and let your wish pull you forward to become that kind of person.

What kind of work conditions let you do your best work? What kind of organizational culture will let you thrive? Do you like direct or indirect contact with people? What kind of supervisor would let you be your best work self?  Do you even want a supervisor? How do your values indicate what you need in your work and/or organization? Do you have personal preferences for the way you accomplish your tasks? 

These are all considerations which determine your job satisfaction and overall happiness. If you’re currently in a position, you can examine your duties and work setting and consider what flexibility you have to shape your work to include more of your preferences. For instance, you may look at your tasks and how you perform them to make them more appealing for you. You can also adjust how you interact with people to get your desired kind and amount of interaction. If all else fails, you can change the meaning of your work so the purpose of your tasks is more rewarding to you.

If you’re approaching a career transition, then it’s even more important for you to consider what motivates you so you make a good career choice before you find yourself in a dissatisfying one and then have to start over to look for another new position.

If you’d like to learn more about how to determine what you want, I’m offering a FREE online class, Discover Your Internal Compass. Click here to register.

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