How your thoughts, words, and actions define your career

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The job we do each day does not tell the full story of who we really are.

(Pause)

But think of this if you find yourself on the wrong track:

Our jobs DO play a defining how others see us.

Confused? Allow me to explain.

We create our world and thus we are the architects of our character. However, our jobs define our reputation for others. We are viewed through the lens of the work we do.

At worst, that work can consume us. At best, we can learn from it and use our job to light the way toward a purpose and direction that is truly in alignment with what we want in life.

Our job is where we spend the majority of our awake time each week, so it’s no surprise that many come to view us through the job we have.

Know anyone in your circle who’s a famous musician or athlete? I do.

One of my friends briefly played Major League Baseball for the Atlanta Braves. Another good childhood friend of mine is the drummer for the band, Taking Back Sunday. Those job titles do so much to define who they are, not just for others, but also in the way they view themselves.

Athletes. Musicians. Doctors. Lawyers. Like it or not, those job titles tend to resonate with people. They’re remembered and admired for having succeeded in high-profile jobs, ones that have large audiences, followings and are aired on TV either in dramas or live events.

If you’re early on in your professional career, realize today you are working toward what will hopefully be a long, fulfilling career of doing what you love. You will mature into a professional who delivers value to clients, management and yourself. So I ask, what will define you? Other than reputation, will you let your job define you?

Or will you use your career path to sharpen and refine you into becoming the real you — the woman or man you are destined to be. Your personal and professional skill development is essential to living a productive, fulfilling life. Use these skills for good.

A story to tell

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe

My “wake up call” came at my previous company, a management consulting firm, while working on a major technology implementation at one of our top clients, The Coca-Cola Company. It wasn’t so much an epiphany as it was the aggregation of moments that made me realize I needed to change course. Plain and simple — I wasn’t doing the work that I desired to do.

I was struggling big time to focus. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t quite self-aware enough yet to admit it. So I kept trudging forward, ignoring the warning signs that my heart and mind were trying to tell me.

I started to think about the age-old saying, “Fake it ’til you make it.” Well, for too long in my career that is precisely what I had done. I was working in jobs I was qualified to do, mostly succeeding, but lacking in true meaning and fulfillment. I remember looking my co-worker in the eyes toward the final weeks of my time at that company. We both knew it was my time to move on.

My work had become far too technology-centered. The core of who I am is someone that is a people-focused individual who wants to help people solve problems and improve their lives. It’s been a natural transition to become the man I am now, working with clients as a coach and doing writing that lines up with my values and belief-system.

But it was a painful separation. It was a moment of reckoning and a call to action. Perhaps you know what I mean. Maybe you’re there now in your thoughts.

Thoughts

“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.” — Swami Vivekananda

Think about the job you want and why you want it. Think about your career path. Many of us find our niche after years of trying on the wrong thing. Even for those who know what they want right away, there is still trial and error within their chosen profession. It becomes a matter of whether we’re willing to be complacent and drift with the current, or whether we’re going to step up and take charge.

A major step of maturity is changing the way you think. Think big thoughts and formulate the vision for what you want your career or job to be. When you envision yourself doing something that you love, you plant the seeds of desire in your conscious and subconscious minds. These seeds begin to grow as you do the work and put into plan how you will achieve what you want.

The best appeal you can make to yourself is to pursue a job or career path that you have a natural enthusiasm for. Adopt a mental approach of never giving up. Creativity is given life when you do something you love. So what is that for you? Do you have a picture of it? Once you do, then it’s time to get realistic of how to achieve your objective.

Be realistic in thought and planning. If you want to become a doctor, then you need to have discipline, focus, a strong work ethic and patience! You’ll have to study and put in long, challenging hours, as part of your medical school requirements. Simply getting accepted to medical school is quite a task.

Only you will know, through your thoughts, your belief in yourself and what inspires you, whether the beginning of your journey toward this pursuit will be worth it. I don’t believe in a one-size fits-all formula for anyone. Just know that it’s easier and that you have more control of your destiny when you decide earlier which direction you desire to go.

Words

The movie Boiler Room was a favorite of mine during my college years. After all, I grew up on Long Island (where parts of the movie were based), and also spent two of my summers during college working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and for large financial services company, Merrill Lynch.

One of the signature lines of that movie was delivered by Ben Affleck and the line went, “Act as if…” One of his examples of this line was, “Act as if you’re the President of this firm.” It was meant as a call to confidence and empowerment for the 20-something wannabe stockbrokers in the movie.

These words can become practical, inspiring guidance as you think about your career. No — don’t fake it. Be real and be yourself. Just start learning what it means to act the part of what you want to become. So much of this is mindset because it begins as that. But it then becomes the actions you will take once you’re ready. Reaffirm for yourself what you want.

Tell yourself and others that you’re going to get it. Ask people for help. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Actions

“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” — Jack Canfield

Act like you are in the position or job that you really desire to be in. It takes vision, purpose and ambition to get where you really want to be. But it also takes living in the moment and acting that way. It begins with you. Yet you also progress and advance forward with the help of others. This means organizing a plan of attack and building rock-solid relationships.

There are a bevy of Internet resources on how to best utilize social media and social networking services like Linked In. You can do it but you have to be willing. Be candid let others know what you want. There may be some nasty people who try to sabotage you but know that candor is among the most coveted assets in building relationships and letting people see that you are authentic.

Then, people will want to work with you. You’ll learn more about yourself, get insight into the types of jobs and companies that interest you. And you’ll gain allies willing to fight for you in the marketplace. Keep learning, keep growing and dream the big thoughts that inspire you to take action in becoming the professional you want to be.

Closing thoughts

Take time in reflection to examine your thoughts, words and actions. Are they in alignment with the person you want to become? If they’re not, what are you willing to change to carve out the career you truly want?

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