What do you want to be when you grow up?

What do you want to be when you grow up? 150 150 Sharon Smith

What do you want to be when you grow up? That is a question most, if not everyone heard when they were kids. Now as adults have you ever asked yourself that question again? Most likely if you have it’s for one of two reasons. Either you found yourself in a career that does not align with who you are at your core or you have reached a level of success that has you feeling “now what”? If you have many days where you are just going through the motions, not feeling engaged or satisfied it sounds like you may no longer be enjoying your work.

Gallup continues to report numbers like 30% for employee engagement and it seems that it is only a rare few who are excited about their work.

If you are part of the 70% who are disengaged at work, you might feel that the other 30% just got lucky and maybe you even feel that it’s not fair. Let me put your mind at ease a bit: it’s not your fault. You can only blame yourself if you continue to do work you don’t like once you understand the paradigm I’m going to share.

A quick caveat, this is not about the people you work with. If you love the type of work you do, but don’t like the people you do it with or the company you work for, that is different from not liking or being disengaged from the work itself. What I’m talking about are those people who are disengaged from the work because of the work itself or the way the work is carried out.

Now let’s get to the new way of looking at the problem and discuss the solution. Most likely, you picked your field of study based on external conditions or pressures vs. an internal understanding of how you are wired. What I mean is that many people go to school and study what they are told to study, what their parents encourage them to do, what teachers encouraged them to do, or in a field that they believe is practical so they can find work after school. That’s what I did, I was told I had to go to college and I picked business and accounting because that meant I would find a decent paying job when I finished, plus at the time it meant that I didn’t have to write many papers. That was a decision that took over 15 years to correct and a lot of disengagement along the way. I won’t call that choice a mistake because I did the best with the tools and knowledge I had when I was 17, but let me tell you, if I knew then what I know now about how I’m wired I sure would have gone in a very different direction.

What do I mean by how I am wired or who you are at your core? What I mean is that you are a unique recipe that makes you like and dislike certain activities, excel or flounder with different skills, and makes up who you truly are. It’s like what Maslow discusses with his hierarchy of needs and self-actualization. Human beings have an inner bent – the innate unchanging part of us that gives us a sense of fulfillment and contribution. Another way to say this is that people have an innate unchanging nature that predisposes them to want to make a certain contribution in a certain way. When you are not working or living in a manner that allows you to contribute in the way you were born to contribute, that can lead to disengagement.

The good news is that regardless of how grown up you are, it is never too late to discover what you are meant do or how you are wired, as long as you want something different. Instead of continuing to live based on chance or what other people think you should or shouldn’t do, you can design the life and career you want.

What would be different for you if you jumped out of bed every morning because the work you do is aligned with who you are at your core? What would be different if you were really excited about your job, your company, and what you contribute?

The first step is to really know who you are and how your innate nature drives you. Are you someone who loves building relationships and teams, and is driven by ideas, but not so much by details? Or are you someone who loves numbers, budgets, research, and all the details? Do you go a little crazy when someone else just wants to wing it? Maybe you like to invent, create, lead, and build; or maybe you like to listen, gather information, and work on creating solutions. These are all valuable, we all have different combinations of these types of energies, and when you get to use the energies that you are wired for, the magic starts to happen.

My personal experience with this comes from the fact that it took over 15 years to align who I am with what I do. I was a very successful information security consultant and I was very good at my job, but it made me miserable. I dreaded Monday and definitely had the Sunday night blues. I had anxiety at times about the work because I knew how much I did not want to write that next report or nit-pick the smallest details with the QA department. The part of the job I liked the most, was the part I got to do the least. When I would get to help my clients actually solve problems and when I got to spend time really getting to understand their businesses and how things work. I did not enjoy the repetitive questions I had to ask every client and the same report that I had to write over and over. I enjoy being creative and fluid, not systematic and sequential. I also know that people assume that I am an extrovert because I am not shy and can talk a lot, but in reality I am really quite introverted. I get drained when spending days on end talking to people and that part of the old job exhausted me. However there were lots of other folks who thrived in that role because they liked and were wired for the tasks and roles that I was not.

It took a lot of trial and error for me to figure this out, but there are lots of tools and ways to go about assessing who you are to better determine what you should be doing. This is not something I can go through in this article. I am writing this for you to start thinking about who you are and the work you do. This is a paradigm shift where you start to understand why you have been disengaged for so long. I want you to know that it’s never too late to do something different, something that lights you up.

So if you are like many people (previously this included me) who wound up in a career where there is little to no satisfaction, then it’s time to discover who you are and make a change to the work that aligns with you. I like to remember that the pain of discipline (or the pain of change) is much better than the pain of regret.

This is one of the services I offer my clients and If I can help support you in making a change or identifying your core values and strengths please reach out to me at sharon@c-suiteresults.com or visit c-suiteresults.com