Very few of us are “born” knowing what it is we want to do or be in our life. We are all gifted, talented and worthy, but no one is birthed into this world to be an Accountant (or any other profession). Knowing what we want to do “when we grow up” is a stress-inducing question – like we should just “know”. We are taught how to be successful and independent but somewhere along the way the lessons on how to be intentional in what we choose to do for a living are missing.
Many of us “fall into” careers, we pursue academic and career interests and eventually hit our 20’s and 30’s and need to settle on something. So, we look around and pick from the most available options to us because we have this imperative to make a decision about our career, and then choose the option that offers us the least amount of discomfort for what we think we want. Usually what we choose to pursue isn’t too far off the path of work that we will find satisfying, but when you “fall into” what you do professionally it still leaves a lot of questions marks as to whether or not this is the deepest expression of what you are meant to do in life.
So how do we choose a career intentionally? It can happen at any point in your working life, but it does require looking at things in a new and different ways. Behavioural science tells us that when we make decisions, we are usually trying to decide between two different options; as in the example of “falling” into a career, the decision is often between what you are doing today and what you think you would enjoy more …and is ready to hand. However, to make an intentional decision you need to look more broadly at your options, and then do some research to explore them.
Intention also requires us to think of the path less travelled, the “rogue” option, the one that scares you the most, the one that isn’t a “sure thing”. In order to make really strong decisions, we should have 3 viable options to consider, because in doing so it broadens our discussions, considerations and thinking. You are not likely going to choose to become a rock star (leaving your secure 9-5, pension and benefits), but in throwing that rouge option into the mix, you start to get a better feel for what you really need and want included in your life (which may mean you choose a career option that supports the time and resources to play in a local band on the weekends).
When we make intentional decisions, we don’t automatically go for the easiest or most obvious choice, we don’t “settle”. We also discover more of who we want to be in life and we build for ourselves the template we need to make strong decisions that continue to support our intentions. This allows us to feel good about what we are committing to, living our values through our work and creating emotional resilience for when the inevitable bad experiences come.
Think about someone in your life whom you admire and respect. Likely they have had the opportunity to get intentional about what it is they are doing and how they share it with the world …they are probably happy and enjoyable to be around too.
“Never underestimate the power of intention. Your thoughts, your words… they are the key to your future.”