Applying your natural talents for professional and financial gain is key to finding fulfillment and success in life. But how?
People are often advised to focus on their weaknesses and strive for improvement. And yes, improvement, in general, can help you become a better person, but there is no such thing as a perfectly well-rounded individual. Being aware of your weaknesses and leveraging your strengths while doing what makes you happy is a big driver of purpose and meaning in your career.
Here are a few thoughts to consider on your journey to professional fulfillment.
Determine what you do well and what you enjoy
Start by asking yourself two questions:
- What do people think I do well? Consider the kinds of compliments you regularly receive from others. You may feel the praise was unworthy or the work inconsequential, but knowing what others think you do exceptionally well is one way of assessing your strengths.
- What do I love to do? Think of what you love doing, or what you would do if money wasn’t a concern. When you do what you love and do it well, the work is its own reward.
Say you’re working your first job in your dream industry—real estate. Despite being praised for your fast, accurate work listing properties on the web—you feel unfulfilled. Play for the big picture. Before blaming the workplace for not meeting your needs, make sure you understand your personal motivations.
Maybe your true passion lies in networking and developing relationships, a critical skill of a real estate agent. It is not surprising, then, that your current work is not satisfying—it’s a stepping stone. Is it a part of the next step in your career? If not, look elsewhere. Applying your competencies in a meaningful way is necessary to keep your career headed in a positive direction.
Concentrate on building marketable skills
Passion without quantifiable experience isn’t going to pay your rent. Focus on acquiring the skills and training that will be the foundation of your future career. Invest in your strengths. This may mean going back to school, doing volunteer work, or taking odd jobs to build experience. Interview for jobs that build the skillset through which you can apply to your career aspirations.
To return to the example above, taking a retail sales job and truly learning how to sell and interact with customers is definitely beneficial for a future career in real estate. Knowing the methods that result in sales success is a transferable skill that can be applied toward your future.
Think ahead in your career
Don’t trade short-term transactions in the long-term game of your career. Taking on more and more tasks that in the long run don’t make you happy isn’t sustainable.
Once you understand what brings you the most professional fulfillment, commit to being a lifelong learner. This is how you acquire the skills necessary for success and keep things interesting. Visualize this future. You could even write your resume as it would appear in five or ten years. Having your path laid before you can give you a greater perspective in knowing when you’re no longer serving yourself and your aspirations and need to change course.
Knowing your aptitudes can make your decision on when it is time for a career transition that much clearer. Choose to invest in your strengths, and apply them to the participation and creation of projects that you find meaningful. It will make work and life that much more purposeful.