Do you know the feeling when you’ve had a big “win” at work? When you’ve served with your whole heart doing something you love? It’s pretty exhilarating, right? That feeling doesn’t have to be fleeting. It’s possible to capture it every day when follow your passion and work for your “hire purpose.”
If you’re like most professionals, you’re looking for more than simply long-term job stability. You probably want to do meaningful work and be valued for who you ARE, not just for what you can PRODUCE. In other words, you’re seeking a career that generates passion, not just a paycheck.
Let’s face it. Today’s employers are doing their best to stay competitive. That means they want to keep people in roles where they are successful, whether or not that role fits their career goals. But don’t judge employers so quickly. It’s actually not their fault. Most leadership books tell executives to promote people based on their strengths. The assumption is that if someone is STRONG at something, they naturally want to do it? Right? Wrong! There are plenty of tasks we do well but don’t give us energy.
For example, let’s say that your job is to plan corporate educational programs. What you may enjoy most about that role is designing curriculum. Maybe it’s because you love conceptualizing new ideas or maybe because you want to follow your passion to create trainings that will enhance the learning of employees. Now, while education programming is a good chunk of your work, if you’re in a small company, you’re probably also tasked with meeting planning for those programs. The problem is that even though you may be skilled at coordinating logistics and negotiating hotel contracts, you’re likely not very motivated because those tasks don’t align with your core passions.
All of that said, you want to do a good job (and keep your job!) so you won’t complain about the meeting planner work, but you also don’t want to get promoted in that area. In fact, if your boss offers you a job as a full-blown meeting planner (simply because you’re so competent), you’ll probably turn them down. Worse yet, you might even quit the organization entirely, thinking to yourself, “If only they had asked me what I really wanted to do with my career…”
So, how you can start the journey to a “hire purpose” career that allows you to follow your passion?
First, consider WHY you work.
This may seem like a lofty question but it’s an important one to think about. Remember back to when you started your professional life. If you’re like most people, you had a perfectly natural goal: to earn a good living. If that was your primary motivator, you probably pursued skills that were practical and promotable because you were advised by your mentors / parents to get a “stable job.”
After a while, though, other considerations might have come into play such as wanting to develop your gifts, being aligned with the company mission or knowing that your job made a meaningful difference. In other words, work started becoming about more than having a roof over your head and food on the table. It became about having a purpose larger than simply survival.
Your purpose may be about advancing a societal mission by working for a nonprofit or a social venture. It might be about making a specific impact in an organization. Say, creating more efficient systems. Or it could be about helping an organization better engage customers, such as creating an outstanding user experience. Whatever your hire purpose, there is something driving you to go beyond your basic job and follow your passion to help those around you thrive.
In essence, your hire purpose is your WHY.
Now, think about the specific skills that engage (and disengage) you.
Once you’ve considered WHY you want to serve, it’s time to think about HOW. Consider what lights you up in your career. How do you feel when you use the knowledge and skills you truly enjoy? Probably energized to the point where it doesn’t feel like work at all.
Now think about projects where you’re quite skilled but not particularly motivated. Sure, you won’t complain (at least not aloud) but it doesn’t exactly compel discretionary effort.
Now consider the skills that you’ve dreamed about developing. The ones where you find yourself actively researching the latest TED talk or peeking over the shoulder of that colleague who gets to use those skills every day.
Finally, mull over the job functions that really disengage you. The ones where you’re not skilled and certainly not motivated to learn. Even if they comprise 5% of your workload, you’ll find every excuse to procrastinate and even then, probably won’t do a very good job.
Now it’s time to come out of hiding.
Hire purpose careers don’t create themselves. It takes thoughtful intention to examine your reason for service and identify the gifts that allow you to make a meaningful contribution in the world. And remember, it’s NOT your boss’ job to help you figure this out and give you “permission” to follow your passion (although that would be nice). It’s up to you to do the hard work of self-discovery through reflection, talking with a peer or maybe working with a coach. You need to balance introspection with an objective perspective, so you can see where your light is shining the brightest.
The adage is true: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Join us for the online Hire Purpose Career Brand Master Class to explore some practical ways you can identify your hire purpose.
Download the free InPower Coaching career planning tips to help you stay competitive in the job market.
Shira Harrington is the Chief Engagement Officer of Purposeful Hire, a career coaching, generational diversity, and recruitment services firm. She can be reached at Shira@PurposefulHire.com