Despite recent news of major layoffs in Tech and other sectors, nearly half of American workers plan to change jobs in 2023, according to a study by Robert Half.
Is 2023 the year that you make a decisive move into pursuing the career you’ve always wanted? Or, is it best to maximize your current role? Before slipping your résumé to a headhunter, looking for greener pastures on job boards, or reading a book about the “color of your parachute,” maybe your time the next few months would be better spent with some deep introspective work.
“What Do You Really Want?”
It’s the simplest, but most profound question of all. Unfortunately, most of us never fully explore it during our job search. We’re more focused on keeping the cash flowing or matching career options to the bullet points on our résumé. Or, more destructively, our pragmatism leads to a kind of cynicism that tells us we either don’t deserve the kind of job we really want, or we could never make money at it.
This question of desire and “calling” is absolutely critical for you to ask and answer before you get herded down a career path or get stuck on a track that may not bring fulfillment. Now is an ideal time for you to start making progress on your deeper questions about desire and calling.
Here are four activities that can help:
Identify three people you know who have found their calling and are living it out with joy and success. These will often be older, more established people whom you respect. Think about family friends, relatives, coaches, teachers, spiritual leaders, and influencers in the community. Perhaps someone will even make your list whom you don’t even know, but respect from afar.
Send a gracious email to them, asking for an hour of their time for an interview. Tell them why you respect them, mention that you are in a search right now to figure out your career direction, and inquire if you can ask them a few questions about their own path.
You’d be surprised how many successful people say YES to these requests.
Come prepared to the interview and ask questions that will give perspective on your own calling:
- How did you choose the path you took?
- What were some of the hard decisions you had to make along the way?
- What’s your definition of success?
- How do you know when to quit something, versus sticking it out?
- What advice would you give someone like me who is contemplating a new course?
This experience of hearing these stories will not only be inspiring, it will likely help you answer some of your own directional questions before you relaunch.
Crowd-Source Some Feedback
This season could also be time for you to tap into the “wisdom of the crowd” by asking people who know and love you to weigh in on your strengths, aptitudes, passions, and opportunities. Those who have been walking alongside you in life often carry a more accurate, big-picture view of who you are and who you could be.
To obtain this feedback, you could simply interview people as your run into them over the summer. A more focused approach, however, will yield better results. Build an online survey using a tool like Google Forms, Kwik Surveys, or Survey Monkey.
Pull together at least ten people from a good cross-section of your life from childhood through college – friends, family members, teachers, employers, leaders, and classmates. Explain in an email what you are trying to accomplish and encourage their honesty. Provide them a link to the questionnaire.
Don’t over-burden your contacts with a long survey. Focus on a few key questions like:
- What are my strengths?
- What industries or jobs might be a good fit for me?
- What types of jobs should I definitely avoid?
- What marketable skills do I have that make me attractive to an employer?
- What kind of career could make me happy?
- What activities and causes do I seem most passionate about?
- How could I make the biggest impact in the world?
Assemble all of their responses and thoughtfully reflect on the results.
Busy schedules, chirping handheld devices, and keeping everyone around us happy leave little room for deeper contemplation. Successful business leaders know that critical decisions require quiet periods of sensemaking, personal analysis, and listening to their inner voice of experience. The science of solitude demonstrates that quiet reflection boosts the potential of leaders.
Over the next few months, as you are contemplating future career trajectories, be intentional about setting aside some time by yourself in a quiet place. Consider a backpacking trip or a hike for a couple hours in one of your favorite spots. Or you can simply carve out in your calendar thirty minutes in a quiet space on a weekly basis.
When you get away, make sure you have prepared some questions to ask yourself, such as:
- What am I learning about success from my hero interviews?
- What helpful info did I glean from my crowd-sourcing data?
- What people, causes or needs am I passionate about?
- What do I dream of doing? What are the steps to get there?
- What do I like about my current role? What are some ways I can maximize the good at my job, and minimize some of the things I’m not happy about?
- Am I on the right track in my career, or is now I time to make a bold move?
Before You Quit, Rewrite Your Current Job Description
Leaving your present company in pursuit of a different path should not be done lightly. The average job switch, on average, yields a meager raise in pay of only 5.8%. And while there may be an immediate boost in happiness from a change of scenery, psychologists who study happiness warn that job switching does not frequently lead to increased satisfaction with work. When you factor in the upside of career or company moves, it has to be balanced against some of the risks related to a new company culture, new relationships, new job requirements, and a new boss.
Chances are both your company and your direct supervisor are highly invested in retaining you. Why not try to reimagine your current roles and responsibilities at your company? Armed with the self-knowledge you’ve gained from hero interviews, crowd-sourced feedback, and maybe even a little solitude time, work through the following exercises:
- Utilize the 80/20 rule – Articulate the handful of activities in your work that drive the most value for the company and bring you the most satisfaction.
- Evaluate your current job description – Add bullet points to the existing document that enumerate any additional requirements you’ve discovered that wasn’t to your original agreement. Rate each responsibility on your new job description on a scale from 1-5. (1=I Loath It, 3 = It’s OK, 5=I Love It)
- Consider which of the requirements that you rated as a 1 or 2 that could be delegated, reassigned, or minimized.
- Envision how some of the passions and unused talents you’ve identified in your crowd-sourcing and solitude could be put to use in your current roles in the form of new projects or activities that would create value for your company.
After this reflection, you may choose to formulate a simple proposal to your supervisor for changing some elements of your job description.
One final option you might pursue before you quit your job is to connect with a career coach who can help you sort through your future opportunities.
Make these first few months of a new year a time that helps you answer the big question, “What do you really want?”
Next Step with EE:
Are you an executive looking to make big changes this year? Ask about our Executive Coaching Program and we’ll lay out a roadmap for your goals with the milestones that will help you track your progress along your journey!