The Executive’s Toolbox: Our Career Vision

A colleague of mine was sharing a story that struck me as one of life’s ironies.  In the days before GPS was available on every phone, he and his wife were travelling cross country.  She was driving and he dozed off.  Upon awakening he asked her how they were doing.

She replied, “I don’t know where we’re going, but we’re making great time.” 

That’s true for many of us, particularly as our careers progress.  Many of us start out our careers with a plan that, by necessity, is to get a job that will pay us enough to be able to support ourselves.  If, once we satisfy those first rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy, we neglect to define what we want to accomplish in our careers, we can travel along the path of working for one company, one industry, or in one career field, while moving up the ladder with no particular plan except the “next” position.

That might be perfect if there are positions being offered and if those positions satisfy what you want to do with your life.  What we want from our careers and lives deserves careful consideration. When we go through our careers without a clear definition of success, we take the risk, like my colleague’s story, of being all velocity and no direction.  It’s not hard to get on a career path that, while financially rewarding, doesn’t satisfy what you really want to do with your life.

In the early 2000’s, Daniel Burrus, the author of Technotrends, (Burrus, 1993), was a guest on my radio show, The Executive Toolbox.   As I got to know him during the pre-interview process, I found he was one of the happiest people I’d ever met.  I asked him to what he attributed his deep sense of contentment.

He answered with, “I figured out the way to be happy is to find your passion and wrap a career around it.”

Defining the vision of what we really want from our careers helps give our careers direction.  Just as our principals help guide us to make decisions that are congruent with our beliefs, our vision helps us make career choices congruent with what we want to accomplish.

Asking ourselves, “How do I feel about the work that I’m doing?” is a good place to start.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released in early 2017.

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.

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