By Perminus Wainaina
We all believe we have plans for what our lives will be, and what happiness looks like. Life, however, doesn’t work according to plans. We grow and change. As we change, we seek meaning in everything we do. We search for purpose, and our sweet spot.
The sweet spot is the convergence of your profession, vocation, mission, and passion.
When Alfred graduated from the university, he was sure that being an accountant was the next step in his life. He had loved math and working with figures excited him most.
After eight years in the accounting profession in 2009, he felt lost about what his life would be about.
“I felt the urge to do more. And the truth is, I was miserable at my accounting job. I wanted to do something within my career, that would impact people,” he says.
He decided to quit his job that year and jump into a career where he could help professionals and individuals grow their careers. In 2010, he went back to school and studied for a higher diploma in HR, something he believed would be valuable in his next career step.
“Almost 11 years later, I can say that I found my passion, and making it possible for others to achieve their career goals is the mark I want to leave on the world.”
The truth is before you start climbing the career ladder, it’s key to ask yourself, “Is my ladder propped against the right building?”
Your career plan needs to be about more than just getting into the next job and the next one after that. Sustainable, long-term advancement comes more easily when you start on the right track. Instead of committing yourself to simply “getting ahead,” do some self-reflection and identify a career sweet spot and then pursue that.
Like Alfred, here’s how you can find the career sweet spot you desire:
1. Know Your Vision, Values, and Goals
Establish your vision, values, and goals, because if you have those, you know where you want to go. These will help you see when there are opportunities that fit in with that vision. They also keep you from going on a path that is not consistent with what you believe in.
During our last career mentorship program, Sarah talked about how she had been interviewing for what was her dream job, only to later discover that the company she was interviewing with was known for poor customer service. For her, customer service was a value she held so dear. That one thing made her start looking for roles where she could be the voice of customer service.
Knowing your values insures you against poor career decisions. If you have a clear idea of what your values are, then you don’t take on things that may cause you to sacrifice your self-esteem or integrity.
2. Identify Your Passion and Where it Fits
Know your passion and evaluate how it fits with your role, your company, and the strategy of the company.
To do this, consider what you are passionate about in your career. What tasks energize you rather than drain you? What are you working on when you get “in your zone?” What professional areas could you continue exploring without growing bored?
Those are the things you should be pursuing as you consider your career path and your employer’s business strategy. Is there a good fit already, or do you need to maneuver into a new role, company, or path that you truly feel passionate about?
If unsure of what your passion could be, take up this career mentorship program that will better give you the answers you need.
3. Develop Your Style
Know your strengths and develop your style. Figure out what works for you and work to mold the process to align with your strengths. Don’t look at how others succeed and try to emulate their approach if it doesn’t play to your skills.
Consider your leadership style. Of all the techniques that exist to motivate and engage others, which come most easily to you? If you haven’t yet identified your leadership style, ask people who know you well—like your manager, career mentor, or a trusted co-worker.
Do you lead by making people feel like part of a team, or by appealing to each individual’s motivators? Do you lead by presenting compelling logic, or by challenging each person to shoot for an inspiring goal?
Figure out your leadership style and then seek out a role where you can use it and be appreciated for it.
4. Know What You’re Not Good At
Know what you are good at and what you are not good at. Before you take a job, sit down and ask yourself, ‘What am I good at and what skills do I still need to develop?’ Then ask, ‘What does the job call for, and am I a good match for that? Can I be successful?’
If, for example, the job requires that you have good public speaking skills, and you are not a good match, will you be able to develop that skill set and learn how to speak with confidence?
If the job involves something you truly can’t—or don’t want to—develop, move on. It’s not the right one for you.
Are you still unsure of your weaknesses? Consult with your career mentor, manager, or colleague.
In the end,
What could you be doing more of in your career that aligns with your values, passions, and strengths? Is there something you’re great at—something you could do in your leadership style? Is it possible to maneuver into a role or career path that combines all of that, while delivering a highly valued service to your company or industry that will make you a sought-after resource?
If so, that’s your sweet spot. And it is what will most likely make you happier in your career than anything else. Therefore, before you take your next step up the corporate ladder, make sure it’s in the direction of your sweet spot!
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through career mentorship programs, he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career mentorship.N.B: Would you like us to consider you for a job opening? Boost your job search. Upload Your CV Here. It's FREE