No pressure, but if you don’t know what, then how can you get to where you need to be?
I know what I want, but I know it’s not this
I always hear friends say, “I know what I want, but it sure isn’t this.” Most of the time, they’re talking about a job, career, or life stage that they’re at, which is causing them angst.
I usually reply with, “If you don’t know what you want, then how can the Universe (or God) know what to send you?” Sounds silly to some, but I’m a firm believer that ambiguity only causes more ambiguity, especially in matters of life and career.
Of course, this relies on rule #1 “Find your Own Spirituality and Practice It.” If you have your own spirituality, believing there is a reason for everything, then you’ll understand why you may not know where you’re supposed to be.
Perhaps you’re not supposed to know yet. The Universe (or God) is waiting for you to accumulate the right skills or resources for your next thing. Or maybe, you’re not experienced enough for what’s on the horizon.
Are you ready for your next thing?
In my experience, when I’ve been put on hold, it usually means the my next thing isn’t ready for me or I’m not ready for. It sometimes means that I’m in the process of changing, so the thing that I was supposed to do is no longer relevant and my next thing is getting ready for me again.
For example, after I graduated from my master’s degree in Healthcare Administration, all I knew was that I didn’t want to return to Alaska. I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted for a career. My experience was in Indian Healthcare. Having the MHA degree wasn’t enough. I didn’t have a network in the Puget Sound area or the work experience needed to get into healthcare in the Seattle area.
Luckily, one of my MHA professor’s took pity on me, hiring me to work for one of Senior Vice Presidents for one year. I mostly did random work, but the last project I worked on was a market assessment for my SVP’s region. I didn’t quite know what I was doing at first, but I knew I loved it.
This project changed the course of my healthcare career. After my year was up, I leveraged my experience based on the market assessment, combined with my MHA degree. I was lucky to get into my first healthcare technology company as a Product Marketing Manager. Again, I didn’t know exactly how to do the job, but it was my entry-level position into the career that would lead me to my dream job. The fog lifted and I was on my way for that stage of my career and life.
It was a scary time, especially being fresh out of graduate school. I didn’t have enough money to get by. I didn’t have the work experienced I needed. What I did have was faith that my next thing would find me, if I just paid attention to the little breadcrumbs leading me to that next job.
If you don’t know what want, I recommend you assess where you are now and where you’ve been. Do you see any themes in your job history? What were the “fun” aspects of your jobs that you’d like to replicate or should pay attention to?
For me, my common themes were:
- I created new programs or departments from scratch
- I created new tools and templates while also creating repeatable processes for those programs or departments
- I didn’t like to maintain an existing system
- I didn’t like big companies, preferring smaller ones and startups
- I tended to move on after I setup up the new function, so I could learn new skills or find a more challenging environment (please note, on two occasions, I was trying to avoid layoffs because of two recessions, so I jumped jobs)
Redefine your value proposition
After identifying the common themes in my job history, I defined my personal value proposition, which is based on creating something from nothing and creating order out of chaos.
After my assessment, I had strong differentiators for an interview process. I also had the criteria for my job searches. My career unfolded and the rest is history.
After going through this process, you’ll be surprised how opportunities will cross your path that you hadn’t noticed before. Or you may have to wait a little while, so the opportunity can get ready for you. When the time is right, it will present itself to you. Just have some faith and a lot of patience.
The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management series outlines my rules of personal and work success. After reflecting on my personal values, I made this list, realizing values are my rules of being or life management principles. Based on your experiences, I hope this list inspires you to identify your own rules. Here are the rules to my success that may help you over the course of your journey:
- The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management
- The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management: Overview of the Pyramid and Its Levels
Level 1: Rules for Our Fundamental Nature
- #1 Find your own spirituality and practice it.
- #2 Know what you want or the Universe (or God) won’t know what to send you: If you don’t know what you want, how can you get to where you want to be?
- #3 Fate or free will? Regardless of what you believe, we all have a purpose to being here. The tricky part is discovering what it is.
- #4 Don’t wait for your future to happen to you, you have to be vigilant in making your future happen.
- #5 Understand your dark side, but don’t give into it or indulge it.
- #6 Aspire to always help and teach others.
Level 2: Rules of Continuous Learning and Modeling
- #7 Watch or read media sources when you need inspiration. Reflect on why you like a certain movie or TV show, so you understand why it moves you.
- #8 Always be learning. Continue learning through books or any source that gives you new ideas on how to approach your work or feeds your passion.
- #9 Become self aware. If you aren’t, then how will you know you’re screwing up?
- #10 Accept responsibility and make peace with your decisions and the consequences of those decisions. They have created the person you are today. The trick is, do you like what you’ve created? If not, then how can you change?
- #11 Keep a lid on chaos. Never let situations or emotions get away from you. Be the calm in the eye of the storm as strength, reflecting confidence for the most vulnerable people in your life.
Level 3: Rules for the Actual Journey
- #12 Stay still and don’t move if you feel lost, so you can find yourself or let the opportunity find you.
- #13 Always be course correcting.
- #14 Surround yourself with trusted and loyal friends. Be prepared to deal with betrayal without ambivalence. But be prepare to forgive (if the person is sincere, I mean really sincere).
- #15 Learn to channel your inner extrovert, if you’re an introvert. Learn to channel your inner introvert, if you’re an extrovert.
Level 4: Rules of Adapting to Environment and Interacting with Others
- #16 Make peace with your weaknesses. We’re not perfect. Even your strengths will turn into weaknesses. The trick is knowing when your strength has become a weakness.
- #17 Master your emotions and body language. Use them strategically in life and work.
- #18 Mentor yourself via the Space Time Continuum. What would your future self tell your present self? How can you get back on track? What have you done well? What more can you do? What would you tell yourself as a child, teen, 20 or 30 something?
Level 5: Rules of Humility
- #19 Never take your success for granted. Always prepare for the worst case scenarios. Be prepared for two steps forward and one step back.
- #20 Be humble. Treat others well, don’t be arrogant, and don’t drink your own Kool-Aid.
Level 6: Rule of Being
- #21 Be compassionate.