A few months back I read a NYTimes article, “Follow a career passion? Let it follow you.” by Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University. It really resonated with me and I think is a useful reminder of what brings true value to the work we do.
From the article: “The traits that lead people to love their work are general and have little to do with a job’s specifics. These traits include a sense of autonomy and the feeling that you’re good at what you do and are having an impact on the world. To people who constantly wonder if the grass might be greener on the other side of the occupational fence, I offer this advice: Passion is not something you follow. It’s something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world.”
For me there are definitely days at work when I ask myself the question…”Now how did I end up in this profession, and is this truly the right fit for me?” I’m definitely guilty of the thinking that the grass may be greener on the other side of the occupational fence, but I then I have to remind myself how much I have to be grateful for. And for the things that do need attention, evolution & change- I remind myself that it’s up to me to set those wheels in motion- to create a job for myself that I truly love doing each day. Aside from the externals, it’s a lot to do, as Cal states, with the skill level we bring to our jobs daily, the hard work we provide- which creates true value in the world- as well as a bit of creative freedom to individualize our job descriptions to fit us.
Set aside a day/week to focus on specific career-related goals. Recalibrate your current habits & systems as needed and write these long-term goals, as well as a more immediate check-list for things you can do this week to work towards it. My career focus time is generally on Monday Mornings– sometimes it could be as simple as a needed change in existing systems at work that I want to bring attention to (so I’ll write a memo and save it on my google drive to present at work), or perhaps a long-term change in my practice that I want to start making new connections for (create a contact list & create networking opportunities or set a date for lunch). Having this day set a side by default is important since it creates a habit- this way there is always a time for a review & evolution of your work-life without the constant nagging feeling that you should be doing something about it, someday. Hopefully this habit will help create a career that is truly your own, and one that you are engaged in fully.