Career Evaluation: What Are You Chasing?

Stop for a moment.

Whether you love, hate or just accept your job – what does it represent?

Since work consumes such a large part of our lives it should serve a purpose.

Finding the perfect job isn’t going to make you “happy” for long. That’s not saying you can’t stay in one profession for a while and enjoy it, but chances are on bad days your mind wanders to other options.

A career is never meant to define you.

When casually asked, “what do you do?” it results in three reactions: proud, ashamed or blah.

The better question to ask yourself is: what are you chasing?

For me it’s lifestyle. As a father and entrepreneur I want my work to provide the opportunity to control how I spend my time. Sure, I’d like to make more money (who doesn’t), but if the tradeoff is I’m rich, but can never see my family it’s not worth it.

Consider your life stage. Don’t default simply to age.

There are people in their 20’s married with kids and others in their 40’s single.

Values don’t change much over time, but priorities do. Added responsibility like being a parent will do that to you.

Feeling stressed isn’t fun, but tension also promotes growth. Changes whether expected or unexpected will challenge you. Take time to relax, but too much of it can hurt you.

When it comes to evaluating where you are in your career, remember to stop comparing yourself to others and look at it in “chunks.” Each experience prepares you for the next so no matter where you are take what you learned in the past and utilize it to propel you into the future.

Chasing is healthy in moderation.

Ambition leads to drive and motivation.

But what’s most important is to define your career path based on your standards alone.

Those who are focused are trying to win the race, not consumed with beating others.

Why Seniority Is A Terrible Qualifier

career-path

Work your way up the corporate ladder is what you were told. Hard work does pay off, but it’s not enough. When you get promoted into a leadership or executive role, it may not be the best move for you. Here’s why:

Think of 3 different levels in an organization.

The foundation is the technical worker(s) a.k.a. the widget maker.

The middle layer is leadership, also known as management.

On the top is the executive team, otherwise known as the C-Suite.  

Historically managers are promoted because of tenure on the job, but the skill set needed to lead is much different than dealing with customers. I’ve witnessed older managers get promoted because of their loyalty to the company, but once elevated the proverbial wheels fell off. Just because you were great as sales, production, service, etc. doesn’t mean it will translate well at the next level (it has little to do with age, much more to do with mindset).

The same happens for middle management. Leaders are focused on managing people, but with an upgrade to the executive team, now you have to forecast growth. Thinking strategically is not the same as relationally. As a CEO, CTO or CFO you’ll spend most of your time in meetings and researching data. The additional money is nice, but you’ll soon find out if it’s the right fit for you.

This comes back to self-awareness. Knowing what you can and can’t do. Higher pay is always nice, but nowadays people quit their jobs much quicker if they don’t love and thrive in their position. Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t what it used to be. And although entrepreneurship may be sexier it’s also not for everyone. When it comes to your career path, figure out your direction before you start traveling. Pursue a role where you can make the biggest impact, learn the most and utilize your God-given abilities. Otherwise you’re just driving without a destination in mind.