When you are ready for a change, it's easy to reflect back on your past to find happiness from previous experiences and try to replicate that for the future. When searching for what's next professionally, I challenge you to take a different approach. Before finding a career that inspires you, it may sound simple, but it is important to understand what inspires you.
When researching this topic, I started to really contemplate the difference between seeking happiness vs. seeking joy. The most succinct explanation I found was from Compassion International. Their mission is Christian-based though the explanation of joy vs happiness is applicable to all:
Happiness depends on external factors to exist. Happiness happens to us. Even though we may seek it, desire it, pursue it, etc., feeling happiness is not a choice we make. Joy, on the other hand, is a choice purposefully made. Joy is an attitude of the heart and spirit, present inside of us as an untapped reservoir of potential.
Simply put: Happiness happens to us, Joy is a choice we make. When I looked back, I noticed two common areas where happiness existed for me:
After a positive interaction with other people (family, friends, clients and colleagues alike)
When I prioritized myself (going for a solo run, making it to the gym, time at the spa, choosing a book over social media)
It took me months to identify the underlying joy that connected these two areas of happiness for me: focusing on the human connection, not the task at hand. The realization was that joy (for me) is in the intentional focus on people. Once I identified my joy, my world opened up.
I no longer obsessed over the tasks I performed at my job, trying to warp together some sense of an a la carte job description. I replaced that exercise with focusing on in-the-moment interactions with those around me, myself included. I stopped trying to force deep meaning to the interaction and started enjoying the experience of intentional time being spent. By focusing on my joy rather than my happiness, I radically changed my life. I also ordered up my future because I had clarity in what I wanted to offer the world.
When pivoting into a career that inspires you: order your future, don't recount your past. If you don't want to keep doing what you've done, then stop telling people what you've done and tell them what you want to do. What does that look like?
Don't let your resume/LinkedIn be a laundry list of things you have done in the past; highlight how your past represents your desired future.
Write your own job description (here's mine: "The Role Every Company Needs")
When doing this exercise, it helps to be clear about what you want in your future. You need to understand your core values that will support you purposefully choosing joy. Focus on what's inside of you that connects all of your past happiness together. This will point you in the right direction to find a career that inspires you and supports experiencing true joy in the workplace, not just fleeting happiness.
If you want help in identifying your core values, let's get started!