Wouldn’t it be great if you could wave a magic wand and guarantee you’ll have a fulfilling career?
While there’s no magic formula, there are factors that can substantially enhance your chances of success.
Here are three that I was reminded of recently during my “bucket list” trip to magical Machu Picchu in Peru.
Keep Transforming Yourself
To have a fulfilling career, you have to keep morphing and transforming yourself because sitting still and staying in your comfort zone is an invitation to fall behind. So, it’s essential to keep learning, growing and developing whether that’s new skills, new angles or new approaches.
At a minimum, transforming yourself will keep you from getting bored. And the upside is attracting new opportunities and creating your own path.
Take Pablo Seminario for example. He’s a Peruivian ceramic artist who’s at the top of his field. He shared his career journey when we toured his ceramics workshop.
He began as an architect but then became an artist, first drawing buildings and landscapes then switching to ceramic sculpture and becoming recognized as a leading figure in contemporary native art.
He then shifted his focus from local Peruvian influences to incorporating more of the global, followed by combining the ancient with the modern. His latest transformation is to incorporate different mediums beyond ceramics.
Every time he felt he was being pigeon-holed into a particular field, he transformed himself. That’s how he has stayed relevant and fulfilled for so many decades.
How about you? Are you “topping out” or feeling restless? What’s the next step in your transformation, and how will you stretch yourself and morph into the next level version of yourself?
Create New Experiences
They say that there’s nothing new under the sun. Indeed, innovation is often about combining things you already have access to in a different way. Like taking a marketing technique used in one industry (such as the “21-day challenge” often used in the health and fitness sector) and applying it to another (like the “ice bucket challenge” that was so successful for the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) charity).
For Peruvian chef Pío, who runs one of the most successful restaurants in the city of Cusco, a key factor in his fulfilling career is his passion for creating combinations of foods to create truly distinctive meals for his clientele.
He combines different ingredients that complement each other, like something crunchy with something smooth or puréed, to create a fusion of aromas, flavors, textures and colors. The result is a memorable (and delicious!) dining experience.
From a business and career perspective, this could look like combining aesthetic design with technology as Steve Jobs from Apple did.
Or it could be bringing different kinds of people together to improve results. Like bringing in artists and storytellers to a science and technology team. Or forming cross-generational teams who come with different perspectives to produce more innovative results.
And it could simply be meeting different kinds of people whether that’s at a dinner party or conference.
When you hang out with the same people and do the same things, you’ll get stale. And that won’t make for a fulfilling career!
Where could you combine seemingly disparate concepts to create something innovative and that adds greater value?
Love What You Do
When you love what you do, it’s easy to feel fulfilled. And everyone we met in Peru loved what they did.
From chef Pío, who came in on his day off to cook for us, to our tour guide Tomás, who got up at 4:30am every day to take us hiking and touring, to Pablo Seminario, who spent hours creating in his studio, we could feel their love, joy and enthusiasm. None of them thought of it as “work”.
Whether you start out doing what you love and make a career out of it, or figure out what you love about the work you’re already doing, once you begin to love what you do, it won’t feel like work… as in “hard work”.
For years I felt like my chosen career (investment banking) wasn’t making the best use of my talents. I’m not the most technical or quantitative person. I was never that interested in finance or capital markets. I was motivated by pure challenge and this work was hard for me.
Every year I was going to quit. This went on for 7-8 years until my husband said, “I’m sick of listening to you complain. Either commit or quit!”
That’s when I realized there were things that I uniquely did that made me successful in my job and that I loved doing. It was the people part – working with clients (especially the ones that were “tough nuts to crack”), leading my team and winning people over through influence and persuasion.
As I leaned into the things I did best and gave myself permission to do things differently than my colleagues did, I began to find more joy. Ultimately, I loved what I did enough to stay for 24 years.
What are the things you love to do and how could you find ways to do more of them on a daily basis?
Find Fulfillment in Your Career
In the end, it’s up to each of us to find fulfillment in our careers. After all, no one else can know what you find fulfilling, and you will always have the greatest incentive to make sure you feel fulfilled.
So take a moment to think about where you stand on these three success factors and which one would most help you have a more fulfilling career.
- How could you keep transforming yourself?
- How could you create new experiences that add greater value?
- What would it take for you to love what you do?
Then leave me a comment and let me know.
Of course, there are other factors too, like embracing fear as your friend, templatizing your work and visualizing the end result. But that’s for another time…