Our Thinking

Taking Charge of Your Career

Posted by Martin Bajt on May 29, 2012 11:15:12 AM

Hey, you’ve got a career, so why don’t you take charge of it?

Before you can take charge of your career you have to realize that you have one. We’ve all probably had jobs at one time or another – we got up, went to work, did something for eight hours, and went home; every couple weeks, we collected a paycheck.

You might be thinking, “But, that’s what I do now.” I hope not…

To me there’s a fundamental difference between a job and a career: purpose. A job is a means to an end, usually the paycheck, but the work itself is of no intrinsic value to you. A career is an expression of something that you’re passionate about, where doing the work is part of the reward in and of itself.

And what do we do when we feel passion? Do we sit back and wait for something to happen that will fulfill our passion? Or do we take actions that fuel our passion? I’d suggest that if you’re sitting back waiting, you’re probably going to be disappointed, and more importantly, it probably wasn’t passion you were feeling in the first place.

So, what should you do?

Take training courses, achieve certifications, attend conferences, read industry journals... sound familiar? I’d wager some, if not all of those, are part of your career plan right now. And don’t get me wrong, those are all valuable tools in building a career -- they’re certainly part of my own plan and they should be part of yours.

There’s something else that should be obvious, but it’s so simple we probably don’t even think of it as part of our career plan: talk about it! Talking about your passion inevitably builds a level of excitement that will not only energize you, but those around you. Marketing folks know this well -- talk passionately about a product you believe in and you’ll build a buzz that leads to sales. The more you talk about it, the more you believe; the buzz gets bigger, and -- well, you get the idea. Think of it as infectious, think of it as viral, or however you want -- the point is: start talking about it!

I was at an internal planning meeting recently and we went through an interesting exercise: each of us talked about something we were passionate about. And you know what? The energy level in the room kept building and building as we each shared our thoughts. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who walked out of that meeting feeling charged. I think we might even have gotten some planning done -- but that seemed almost like a by-product of the meeting, and not its purpose. And let’s be honest -- when’s the last time you walked out of a planning meeting feeling charged, instead of drained?

So, where do you go from here?

Start talking about your passion! The beauty of this simple action is that you can do it anywhere, at any time. All right, there are some practical limits to this -- you’ll likely annoy the other patrons at the movie theatre, and maybe Auntie Marge doesn’t want you talking about your passion for business process (or iOS development or whatever turns your career crank) over Sunday’s roast beef dinner.

There are numerous opportunities to talk about what drives you: grab a coffee or lunch with some co-workers, get actively involved in user groups, mentor someone. You could even blog about it.

Topics: Professional Effectiveness

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