Every time I pass a car in a parking lot and see a dog sitting in the driver’s seat, it makes me smile. Sometimes said dog seems impatient or unnerved. They bark, jump, try to stick their head out of the crack in the window. Other times, said dog is calm, maybe even content. They sit straight up, look ahead, and almost seem to be smiling. I can’t help but think that dog is enjoying being in the driver’s seat (instead of in the back seat) for once!
The last time I saw a dog in a car, it occurred to me that, as humans, we’re not always in the driver’s seat ourselves—especially when it comes to our careers.
Too often, we look at work as an outside force,
dictating the way we live our lives.
We’ve been programmed to believe it’s a necessary evil. That it’s something we have to do instead of something we might actually want to do.
Please don’t get me wrong—I’m certainly not trying to diminish the truth of the past year when so many people were impacted by forces outside of our control and found themselves out of work. There is harsh reality in losing your job and needing to get your foot back in the door. Although even in those circumstances, I’d challenge you to ask yourself if there isn’t another, better path for you.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the
“I should” trap.
You know, the one where the narratives in your head go something like this:
“I should just go to work and suck it up even though it’s sucking my soul.”
“I should stick it out for the paycheck. After all, that’s why you work, right?”
“I should just count down the days until my next vacation, holiday, or retirement and be grateful.”
The problem with these stories is that you’re telling yourself work is just WORK. That it’s not meant to be joyful or life-giving. Well, my friends, I’m here to call bullshit on that. Maybe it’s time to take the driver’s seat and ask yourself the hard questions you might not even really know the answers to questions like:
- What do I want?
- What’s most important to me?
- What are my must-haves? Nice-to-haves? Absolutely-don’t-wants?
- What are MY non-negotiables when I’m looking at whether or not the next job I consider is a fit for ME?
Now, I know this kind of work
isn’t for the faint of heart.
It takes courage to face the reality that perhaps you’ve been super comfortable riding in the backseat. I know because I’ve been there myself. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with comfort (we all like a soft couch and a cozy blanket). However, comfort doesn’t always allow you to truly live your best life—a life that includes a job or career that feeds your soul, that allows you to share your talents and gifts in the pursuit of something more than just a paycheck.
We’ve been programmed to look at a job description and think about whether or not we check the employer’s boxes. But what if we were able to create our own set of boxes?
If this resonates with you, I encourage you to download our free Take Control Template, discover the answers to those big questions, and begin designing your career. Use it as a litmus test to evaluate your current situation or your next move.
You might just be surprised at what you learn.