Is Your Career at a Crossroad? Or do you just need to get ‘aligned’

Some time back I met an individual who was clearly lost in her career. The individual ─ who appeared to be about mid thirties ─ approached my car where I had stopped at an intersection. She was holding out her plastic cup for spare change. Something about her mannerism made me role down my window. You could see it in her eyes ─ she didn’t belong there. And since I’m insatiably curious about where one does belong in their ideal path, we quickly struck up a conversation. She was indeed looking for work but wasn’t sure anymore what she would be good at. Despite what I’m sure were some pretty big life obstacles for her, it seemed to me she was someone who had just made some bad decisions. As the light changed I remembered I had a copy of NAIL IT!® in my bag so I gave it to her. She was so excited that despite the people beeping at me to move on, she got me to sign it.

A week later I stopped at the same intersection and there she was again. She recognized my car and rushed over. “It’s you!” she said. I rolled down the window. “So how did it go?” I asked. She was beaming. She said she keeps the book in her knapsack. “I really like what you say about values. That really made me think. You know, I really like working with people.” She said doing the values exercise reminded her about the fun she had working in a coffee shop, interacting with the customers. The light was about to change so we quickly wrapped up. For some reason she had gotten away from public-facing jobs and fallen into ones that were more behind the scenes. My guess would be she wasn’t as motivated to be at her best in these kinds of jobs. The light changed and I wished her well. The irony wasn’t lost on me that she was actually very good at her ‘job’ of panhandling given how cheerful and chatty she was talking to people at the intersection. She needed that people connection.

Perhaps this story is one of extreme given most of my clients are mid to senior level executives, but I truly believe that we all deserve to not only have a means of making a living, but to actually ‘like’ what we do. Career satisfaction and enjoyment starts with knowing what’s important to you, what you value. Sometimes the feeling that you’re at a cross-roads really isn’t a crossroad at all. It’s your inner guide or ‘internal alignment detector’ trying to get your attention! What do you value? What’s most important to you? How are your actions, decision and behaviours lining up with those values? Defining your values often helps clarify the next step in your path.

As we begin a New Year, I’ll share with you my vision for 2013. I want people to actually start loving what they do. It’s why I wrote my book – to take this idea of career management (which can feel like a complex subject) and simplify it. It’s a fact that people are more productive and organizations thrive when people like what they do. I want Atlantic Canadians using the NAIL IT!® steps as part of a career and performance planning process, so that we are surrounded by a workforce that is more aligned, energized and fueled for the future. It’s as simple as that ─ and the process works!

Fortunately, I haven’t seen this individual at the intersection again. I hope that means she found a job where she can use her value of connecting with people. I hope she stays on path. It’s what more Atlantic Canadians need.

Find out more about Karen’s trademark NAIL IT!® program

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