The 3 Stages Of A Meaningful CareerNov 23, 2020
One of the things we don't talk a lot about is what it really takes to build a meaningful career over time.
When I first decided I wanted to do work that had meaning, I was totally focused on finding that perfect meaningful role or setting up the perfect meaningful business. I couldn’t see much beyond that. It was black or white, there were no shades of grey.
It was like this box that I was going to find and tick. And then that would be it. Everything would be alright. I would arrive in some kind of paradise and automatically be ecstatically happy all of the time.
I went on to realise there was a lot more to it than that ...
Initially, I put too much pressure on myself to find the perfect thing straight away. The one thing that would fulfil me completely immediately and totally. Instead of letting it be an ongoing work in progress. I was probably too ambitious initially in the jobs I applied to when transitioning. And when the role I got turned out to be 60% of the way there (which was still a great improvement on my previous 20%), I was worried I was doing something wrong.
I neglected myself and skirted with burn out. I missed that you could have meaningful work and... still be stressed out, work hours that were too long and do tasks you shouldn't be doing. That there was an important difference between busy work and the work I was meant to be doing day to day.
I let stressed out bosses keep me small. Until I rose in confidence and understood my value. And then mastered the invaluable arts of influencing, transformation and upward management.
I panicked when I got to my first career plateau. Thinking that I had gone down the wrong path. Not knowing that there are ebbs and flow and that there is always another level of contribution. And that right before that level emerges, you feel lost and completely uninspired again.
I underestimated how much I would have to grow as a leader. I didn't always immediately embrace the lessons. I looked outside for answers, blamed and made excuses. Instead of challenging myself to my core and rising to be the leader I needed to be.
I focused too much on what others wanted to hear, rather than what I really wanted to say. Not realising how important it was for me to bring my unique insights and perspective.
What I didn't know is that meaningful work is something you craft with care over time and that it has stages.
That means that many of the usual things we need to master to develop our career and leadership apply. But in addition there are specificities to meaningful careers that we need to be aware of.
We will be called to live way beyond our comfort zone most of the time, to consciously manage our energy and relationships at a completely new level and to grow and stretch as a leader in ways we could but only imagine.
One thing I have found particularly helpful is to know that there are different stages to a meaningful career. And that each stage asks you to grow in different ways:
- Stage 1 - Finding purpose. This stage is about getting clearer about what you might want to do and transitioning to a new playing field. One that is closer to your purpose. And it is about deepening into yourself, exploring new worlds and allowing it to be a work in progress. I call it finding the right ocean.
- Stage 2 - Refining purpose: Once you have arrived in your new space, it is about taking your place solidly in it - becoming a recognised expert. Time to refine the dream, realign your expertise and consciously accelerate your impact. Here it is about optimising your contribution in your new 'on purpose' field so that it feels valuable, fulfilling and meaningful. It is also about becoming a master influencer and guide of change. This entails learning to sail really well in your chosen ocean.
- Stage 3 - Leading with purpose: Finally it is about committing to your meaningful leadership. So that you evolve the world through your thought leadership and unique life's work. Here you leave your imprint. Your articulate your legacy work and big vision in your 'on purpose' area. You unleash a new level of creative potential. Where you inspire others to new possibilities and lead to new ways of thinking, living and working. This is about inviting others to sail with you to new horizons of unchartered territory.
If this resonates let me know below... which stage are you at in terms of building your meaningful career? What is your biggest current challenge in that stage?
Until Next Time,
Louise is a Next Generation Leadership Catalyst and Advocate.
She helps leaders who are successful but feel that something is missing create and step into impact driven careers and leadership. Specifically she guides them align to purpose, create meaningful work and become the Next Generation Leaders they are meant to be. Aka the Visionaries, Innovators and System Shifters who are building the loving sustainable world of tomorrow where we can all flourish.
She is the Founder and CEO of Positive Energy Leaders and the Creator of The Positive Energy Academy - An online course, incubator and transformational community to find your purpose and create fulfilling, meaningful work that has a positive impact.