Many of us will think of our careers as a progression based on titles or salaries. We visualize our life's work as a linear progression, hopefully pointing up to the right as time progresses with more happiness and money. But a recent Harvard Business Review article points out that our own career happiness is actually a series of ups and downs with peaks and valleys. But, what if we could figure out a way to make wiser career choices and shorten the time to the next peak? Of course, that would entail knowing what makes us happy.
Graphing our career over time can provide powerful conclusions. The added bonus is that drawing makes us think with a different more creative part of our brain than, for example, writing text.
Greg McKeown. the CEO of THIS Inc., a leadership and strategy design agency, explains how to do this fun and simple exercise. You draw a map and start with your earliest job to the present. Think of the times when you were "in the flow" or really happy.
McKeown suggests these questions:
"Ask: When was I truly happy and why? What activity or theme do I keep coming back to? What is my gravitational pull? When was work effortless for me? What isn't working for me? When do I seem most like myself? When was it meaningless and why? When was work meaningful and why? Don't rush the process. Pause long enough to listen. Write the answers down as they come so you can reflect on them later."
This not only will help you become more attuned to what you want but save you time in the job hunt. You'll be more focused and have a clearer idea of what you want and where you excel. You'll save a lot of time in not pursuing the wrong opportunities. As Stephen Covey wrote, "If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster."
Here's to leaning into the right wall.