Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How did I get here? The first step in finding your passion.

To find out where you need to go, and what your true calling is you have to start by looking at where you have been.   Ask yourself “What decisions have I made in my life that got me to where I am today?”  Did you take a job or a promotion just for the money?  Did you relocate for a job (or choose not to relocate)? Did you choose a career based on what others thought you were good at?  Did you just fall into it?  There could be a number of questions you need to ask yourself to really get to the bottom of the main question…”How did I get here?”

For me, as I began to look at my career, I noticed that I was more or less acting as a passenger in my own life.  Sure I was making the decisions that ultimately got me where I am today.  But why did I make those decisions?  When I started looking for my first “real job”, my girlfriend’s father sent me to a place where he knew the people in charge of hiring.  He said he could get me a job, and he did.  The next place I went was at the request of a friend.  He also said he could get me a job.  So I did, and I got the job.  This seemed to be a repeating pattern in my career choices, even up to the point I started working at my current job.  You guessed it, a friend told me I should put in for it.

I’ve been with my current employer for 10 years now, and the pattern still has not changed.  I have received several promotions, and moved up the ladder quickly.  Each of the positions I took was because different executives at different times wanted me to manage different areas.  I even relocated my entire family 1,100 miles away from my hometown to take one of the positions.  For five years in a row, I received a different promotion to different areas, not staying in one job for more than a year, sometimes less.  I always took it as a compliment.  They came to me because they needed me.  Then it finally dawned on me.  I wasn’t in control of my career.  I didn’t choose any of these jobs.  Someone else chose me, and I just agreed.  Sure I said yes I would take them, but I didn’t set out to say, “in five years I want to be middle management.”  I have never been able to answer the “where do you want to be in five years” question.  I never knew.

Now here I am, following someone else’s plan for my life.  I have never taken charge of my own career. Don't be a passenger.  You have to take an active role in your own life.

Some of this may ring true for you.  Start by examining your own life. Take the time to answer the questions below.  Take a good long look at your life and see if you can find out how you got to where your are today.  Feel free to share in comments.  Everyone’s journey is different.

  • Why did you take your first job?...your second?...third?  You get the idea. 
  • Did you have an interest in the work? 
  • Did anything about the job appeal to you? 
  • What is your pattern?

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