Did you ever look at the clouds as a kid and decide what shape they looked like? As the wind blew, the clouds would shift and suddenly the shape you originally saw could no longer be discerned. Sometimes you could see a new image, but other times the cloud just looked like some amorphous shape of which no one could make sense.
Our career journeys are like the clouds. We start out with a clear picture of our careers. Our original intent is carried out with excitement, and we feel like we can conquer the world, or at least our small corner of it.
Then, the wind picks up. Our job no longer seems to fit that picture we had when we started out. We begin questioning if this is really what we want to continue doing with our lives. At times, just like with the clouds, our job morphs into something slightly new and different. We can still identify what we like about the work that we are doing; we still find energy in the role and still can see how it fits with our purpose.
Sometimes though, the wind shifts and the picture we had of our job no longer matches the reality of what we are living. The initial excitement has worn off, and we realize that the sense of fulfillment is no longer there. Perhaps as we change and grow, the work no longer allows us to use our true strengths; perhaps it becomes stale and mundane; perhaps we were disillusioned when we started as to how this work aligned with our core values.
Where you are currently in your career with this cloud metaphor? Are you in the initial stage where you are just starting out picturing what your work will look like? Or has a new cloud picture emerged in the form of a career change? Or are you in the midst of the wind with the cloud shifting and are unsure of what the new shape will be?
If you find yourself in the last scenario, here are a few tips to help you reform the picture of your career: 1) get clarity on your core values, on what is truly important to you in life, 2) reflect on your authentic strengths, those tasks that you enjoy doing and wish you could do more of, 3) translate your core values and authentic strengths into roles where you can realize your purpose and generate fulfillment in your life.