Part 2: Career Advice- The new questions you should be asking
Hi all, welcome back. This post is the second part of a two-part series on questions which drive smart career choices. If you haven’t read part one or need a refresher, I suggest you do that first here.
A few months into Intelligent Shift, I was discussing my 3 rules / questions with a mentee. She looked at me quizzically, “That doesn’t make sense. If those were it, you wouldn’t have left a big company and taken a huge risk.” She was right. I had just made my biggest career move and didn’t follow my own advice. That’s when I realized I had asked myself three completely different questions when making this change:
“What in my life and job brings me joy?” Everyone considers this at some level, just not as thoroughly nor seriously as we should. I wanted to be a leader so I willingly jumped into any job that was bigger without really thinking too much about it. However, my drivers of joy are based around my family and building teams and helping people grow. As I started weighing positions against those drivers, the traditional jobs I would have considered suddenly seem like a drain. The risk equation between staying in a big company vs starting Intelligent Shift flipped upside down.
“Where am I going and does this step get me closer?” This fits right with #1. I used to think, “I’m going up the ladder.” That’s all that mattered to me in career choices. For managers and this is about span of influence, but it applies to technical staff too. For them, it is the scope or difficulty of the problem or the impact to mission. Anyone can blindly just follow the path in front of him/her. I hadn’t stopped and thought about the destination. Think 10 years down the road and then to the end of your career. Don’t narrowly think about career today. Think about your kids, friends, church, etc. What do you want on that last day? Who will you be in life? I remember one guy telling me he couldn’t relocate because he coached soccer. At the time, I thought it’s insane to drop a job for coaching soccer. But if coaching is the thing in his life that brings the most joy, it’s the relocating that would be insane.
“Did I have the support and resources to make a change?” This question became imperative after I knew a big change was in the conversation. The key part of the process was to ask Amanda directly if she would support the risk. She basically said “I don’t know what you’ve been waiting for.” Friends and family have a clarity on #1 and #2 way before we do. Amanda already knew what made me happy and where I should end up. If you take one thing from this post, go have dinner with your Mom, Dad, Spouse, sibling, or best friend. Ask them about you and your career. Then just listen.
A final thought: I have heard from mentors over the years that you will be good at things that make you happy.. That idea is too often narrowly understood. More broadly--- You’ll be successful if you are happy. If your home life is in shambles, work suffers. If work zaps all your energy, your family and friends feel that pain. As you consider your career steps, I hope you think about joy and where you want to end up in life so that your choice in job brings even more joy to your whole life.