What does a fulfilling career look like? Why are so many people unable to find one?
A fulfilling career helps us feel more empowered and engaged. It allows us to grow and develop as workers and as humans. It has the power to improve our health. A fulfilling career is one that serves our needs and helps us live the life we want.
Finding a fulfilling career is difficult
- Define your personal mission
Find out what is meaningful to you and then determine how to find a career that supports those values. To find your values, ask yourself:
- When are you happiest?
- What are your most treasured values?
- What strengths make you feel proud of yourself?
- What makes you come alive?
- If you had a day entirely to yourself, how would you spend it?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- Know what you’re good at and what you’re not
Define your strengths. If our skills align with our work, we face fewer obstacles in pursuing growth and success. Leaning into your strengths allows you to begin to develop.
Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t trust self-reflection, ask trusted friends and colleagues to share their thoughts with you. Then, make a list of all your strengths and weaknesses with as much detail as possible. These skills can include hard and soft skills related to past jobs or life experiences.
Then compare this list to your current career. What strengths can you lean into to grow in your current position? If your skills don’t transfer to your current position, what career would better suit you?
- Know what you like (not what you love)
Knowing what you do and don’t enjoy can elicit different results than listing out the skills we excel at (and don’t). For example, you could be great at data management, but the lack of change in the day-to-day duties may be draining.
But don’t solely focus on the tasks you love. Passions can be a great thing to pursue, but sometimes finding a fulfilling career can exist outside of following your passion. Pursuing one’s passion can be difficult. Finding work you like but may not necessarily love is the perfect balance for those who prefer consistent, reliable work that doesn’t require them to compromise their life outside of work.
- Keep goals and plans flexible
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” He was right. Life happens, and things change. Learning how to manage the inevitable changes in your career and embrace the uncertainty will help you move forward.
- Practice gratitude and stop looking for the perfect job
Life is chaotic and rarely perfect. Instead of looking for the perfect job, share appreciation for the job you have. Find what you like about it, then even if you decide to move jobs, you know what you want and what you don’t. Most jobs, although not all, have parts we can be grateful for.
- Take initiative
Jump in and fully commit to making a life you love. A fulfilling career won’t just happen to you. Take the initiative and be proactive about ensuring you’re able to live your best life.
- Always keep learning.
As stated above, we find fulfillment by doing things we excel at. So, what is a skill you need to improve upon to continue growing and developing at your current position?
If you’re planning a career shift, look at your ideal job description and see if there is anything you could learn to help you reach your goals.
- Prioritize your relationships
Focus on deepening your existing professional relationships. When we feel connected to our coworkers, we feel more fulfilled at work. This sense of belonging helps us find more value and purpose in our day-to-day tasks.
Keep in mind that building solid relationships with encouraging, empowering, energizing people is the best career strategy we can create.
- Find a company you can stand behind
What is your ideal company culture? Are you someone who would prefer remote work, or would you prefer to be collaborating with your peers throughout the day? What do you value? Is it important the company you work for values the same things?
Knowing the answers to these questions would be vital before securing a job. Make sure to do your research about any possible careers or companies to ensure your needs will be met.
- Find a flow state
During your workday, find moments where you can enter a flow state. Flow states have been linked to meditation—and have been proven to have similar benefits. Flow occurs when a person becomes completely immersed in their work. They feel an energized focus and enjoy the process of completing the activity. Flow can give you feelings of joy and satisfaction. It is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.
- Fight against perfectionism.
Perfectionism slows progress. If you need everything to be perfect, nothing will get done. Instead, reach for excellence, but be kind to yourself when you don’t meet your expectations.
Remember that you’re human, and failure is a part of life. As long as your mistakes push you to grow, you’re on the right path.
Depending on where you’re at in your career, achieving fulfillment can be daunting and overwhelming. The good news is—it’s possible! The challenging news is—it will take time and require you to take action.
You don’t have to do it alone. Enlist a coach or a small group of peers to help you build the career you want.