In an ideal work world, your career purpose and your current position should align.
What is purpose at work?
Purpose-driven career motivation connects your professional mission with the one you fulfill in your job.
If you have a purposeful position, you’re inspired by the idea that your work has meaning, outside of a paycheck. You’re not necessarily working for a social purpose, either; some professionals are driven by gaining more influence, managing a larger team, or advancing up the corporate ladder.
On the other hand, a job-driven career motivation is typified by working simply because it’s expected of you. If this is your mindset, you likely feel bored or uninterested in your work. A job-driven career mindset typically isn’t sustainable as it saps your energy and motivation.
What if you feel that your purpose-driven career motivation is slipping away? The Harvard Business Review suggests that professionals need to continuously reevaluate their purposes. You may have outgrown your role and are no longer challenged by the duties expected of you. Perhaps your company’s culture has changed, meaning that your personal passion and company mission no longer match.
Find Purpose in Your Career Through These Questions
It’s important to regularly check in with yourself to determine if you still find career satisfaction in your current role. Here, we’ll share the questions you should ask yourself to identify your guiding purpose.
What motivates you most?
The first question you want to assess is your internal and external motivators, separated from any connection to your current role. What would your ideal workday look like? What activities get you into a flow state where you’re completely engaged? What matters most to you in the world of work (status, salary, managing a team, the social good)? Think through these points and actually write down your answers in descending order.
Once you have a list like this, you can use the qualities you’ve added to answer more questions on this list.
Pretend you’re looking back on your career after retirement. What would you have hoped to accomplish?
This question asks you to connect the list of motivators you created to particular tasks and successes. What accomplishments would make you most proud? Are their roles you’d be disappointed never to achieve in your career?
Answering this question will help you determine if you’re actually working towards your long-term career goals.
What are your career goals over the next 10 years?
This question will help you determine if you’re able to grow enough to reach your long-term goals in your current position. If you think about what you want to accomplish in the next decade, you can then decide if you’re making progress towards them in your current role.
How have you made progress towards those career goals in your current position?
Using the list you made for the last question, you can then decide if your role pushes you towards your goals. You may decide that your goals have shifted since you first took the position, or you may decide that your current job is holding you back from the career future you envision.
Determine how you spend your time in your current position. Which of those tasks do you enjoy? Which do you find tedious or stressful?
In connection with the previous question, it’s often useful to break down how you actually spend your time. For instance, let’s say you took on a role because you thought it would let you regularly participate in a task that you enjoy. In reality, though, the time you have available for that role has been sapped by other obligations.
A generalized estimate of how you spend your time may not be accurate. Instead, tabulate how much time you spend on different types of tasks over the course of a week. Next, note which of these tasks you find satisfying, and which you dread.
You may decide that you’re spending too much time on obligations that don’t match with your motivation or career goals. Keeping track of the time you spend in a tangible and concrete way can help you to make adjustments as needed. Perhaps your current job has the potential to be fueling your purpose, but the way you’re spending your time at work isn’t serving you.
Does your work excite you?
As much as the last question was about noting objective tasks, this question focuses on subjective feeling. Do you like getting up in the morning for your job? Do you often get the “Sunday scaries” where you dread the coming of the work week? Are you satisfied when you return home after a day at work? Taking note of how you feel is just as important as objectively connecting your motivations and your daily tasks.
Is your current position and/or field the only way to fulfill your career motivations?
Some professionals get trapped in a position that doesn’t fit because they don’t think there is any other way to achieve their career ambitions. But if you’re not enthusiastic about your role, there must be a mismatch. Perhaps your position isn’t what you expected it to be, or maybe your career motivation has changed.
Whatever the case, research other positions, or new fields entirely perhaps, to decide if there is a different role that could advance your career. After all, if you’re not happy in your current position, is it really worth the time you’re spending waiting for the next opportunity to arise?
Determining that you’re not fully satisfied in your current role is only the first step. Next, you need to identify different roles or fields that would be better aligned with your personal goals. This step can be tricky. Connect with one of Ivy Exec’s Executive Career Coaches, who can offer you a career diagnostic and coaching services to help you land on your next move.