3 Questions to Discover Your Fulfilling Career

As I ventured into the work world my primary focus was to earn an income.  I wanted to go to college and needed to find a way to pay for it.  I looked for something that I could do, hopefully enjoy doing it.  I wanted job that paid fairly well – college is expensive and I was paying for it by myself. As the years have gone by, my needs have changed. Now that my basic needs have been fulfilled I can reach out with greater expectations for the job that I have.

I am told that the new generation of employees are looking for a job in which they can make a difference, that they can professional grow, be part of a greater vision, and experience an active life outside of work. From what I read I get the impression that these desires are selfish and unreasonable. I find it interesting that they are starting their career where I am ending mine.

Having a fulfilling career, job or business requires answers to some basic questions –

  • Who are we?
  • What do I want out of my career, job or business?
  • Why?

WHO ARE WE? What are our strengths and weaknesses? What values do we hold and choose not to compromise? What energizes you and what leaves you cold? What type of environment is best? Who can we work with that will bring the best out of us? What your true passion is?  Nothing will have a greater impact than knowing who you are.

I learned a lot of this by analyzing the bad situations I found myself in. I struggled in English.  Thought it was subjective. I learned math was my strength. I struggled when math became science. I prefer concrete ideas rather than abstract. I learned that I valued competence, when I had a boss that I felt was not competent. I discovered that it felt good and I got energy when I was helping others by using my accounting knowledge. I would never make it as a nurse. The better you know yourself the better decision you will make. 

WHAT DO I WANT? We trade our time and energy for the experience and income of the work that we do.  Working for 30 plus years I have observed a variety of needs and wants that people look for or expect from a job.  Sometimes it is just the cash; however we accept a job for the income promised before we actually start.  We keep doing the job for many other reasons – such as feeling important, to feel as if we belong, to live a lifestyle, to learn, to be challenged, to not be bored, to learn from others, to help others, to win, to get parents approval, to buy toys, etc.  The list goes on.  For business owners I can add a few more – to carry on the family business for the next generation, to get on the Inc. 500 list, to pursue a passion and because they can’t work for anyone else. Knowing what you want will make the decision process easier.  

WHY?  This question becomes more important as we make big decisions. It will determine how fulfilled we are with our career, job or business. It will test the first two questions. Knowing why will help avoid feelings of regret and provide a clearer path to your success.  

Early in my career my identity was my Certified Public Accountant designation. It gave me my self-worth.  When I became a mom I had to let go of that and learn that my career didn’t define me.  Now that my kids are on their own my “why” is changing again.

Today my “why” is – to feel valuable by making a difference in the lives of small business owners. I am focusing on professional growth, developing an inspiring business vision and designing the business to provide a life outside of work.  These wants are very similar to what the new generation is asking for. In my situation we both want the same thing.

Mary Guldan-Lindstrom

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