Mindful Careers: A Conversation In Courage

Are you minding your career?

People who find themselves in a unsatisfying job have often given their career plan to another person or an institution to manage, and not deliberately creating work that’s aligned with their values and purpose. This lands you in a situation (both physical and mental) that you never wanted to be in. The other person can include your boss, your HR professional, a therapist or coach, your spouse and/or your parents. The institutions we may rely on include schools, companies or perhaps, a government institution like the military.

These people and/or organizations can be helpful when exploring your options.  In the end, however, your long-term career happiness is dependent upon you knowing your self well, getting in your lane, and being courageous enough to clarify and go after your dreams. There are three types of courage you need to become the visionary you are and create the future you want:

1. Mindful Courage: Being willing to slow down enough to face yourself, see what worked and what did not work from the past and  taking these lessons into the future will require bravery. Before you leap into a new future, you need to look squarely at your past. In addition, developing mindfulness will prepare you to better use your imagination as you envision what’s next.

Example: Instead of filling your calendar this weekend with chores and recreation, set aside one hour to reflect on the last six months and make a list of things you want to change in the next six months. Do not rush it!

2. Mastery Courage: If you want to develop your personal genius and earn a living from it, you have to take risks. This may be as simple, albeit difficult, as asking for a detailed critique of your work from a mentor. Or your path may be as complex as devoting yourself to developing a new skill you suspect you’d be good at but may take you years to learn. For some of you it may require being  really bad at something before you develop your mastery.

Example: Make a list of three things you think you could do well if you had the chance to develop the skill. Discuss the list with a trusted friend. Take a small step to explore developing one of the skills such as exploring schools or online courses.

3. Movement Courage: Once you develop your new vision, whether it is a new job at the company you’re at, a drastic career pivot to an entirely new discipline or leaving an organization to start your own venture, it’s going to take courage. Leaving what is familiar and moving to something new means facing fears and the push back from naysayers who may challenge you. Taking actions, maybe small ones to begin with, through this adversity will require you to dig deep and fuel your resolve to change with your bravest self.

Example: Do something small, something that’s outside of your comfort zone that relates to your work or interests such as giving your boss some helpful feedback or singing karaoke.

Minding your career looks a lot like minding your self. That’s not by accident. You spend so much of your life working. It’s time to consider why you’re doing what you do and if you could be doing something that is more you. It takes a bit courage. The time is right to tap into your reserve.

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