#98 Forget About Career Path—Create a Career System Instead! Part I

career path

Instead of fretting over the job roles or the “right” career path vs. the “wrong” one, here is what you can do instead—create a career system. Given your system is up and running, the job or career path doesn’t matter nearly as much!

Step 1. Assess Your Core Values

Have you ever written out your core values—do you even know what they are?

Core values are those values in life that represent you at your core, fiercely describing who you are or who you’d like to become. There are no right or wrong answers when choosing your own core values as they are flexible and meaningful to your life only.

Core values range from personal to spiritual to environmental. For example, your values may include diversity, independence, and kindness. Others may value work ethic, creativity, or family.

I encourage you to search multiple sites to view core values and choose about 15 that truly represent who you are (or who you’d like to become). If you choose too many then they are in danger of becoming diluted, so I recommend about 15.

Why do core values matter so much?

Core values act as your anchor. They can help guide you through significant, life-changing decisions.

One critical key to proper use of your core values is to remember that others are not required to abide by them. It is up to you and your daily lifestyle to incorporate your own values—this is not the responsibility of others! See Post #48  for some additional career-boosting tips.

Okay, you’re ready for the next step! Let’s continue quashing the unstable career path in favor of building a predictable career system.

Step 2. If You Can’t Control It, Dismiss It

Oh, how we’d love to control things in the workplace, such as our boss, colleagues, customers, and so on. Even better? To also control our promotions, raises, and reputation.

Some employees truly believe they can control such external things at work—but this is sorely a misguided mindset! Do not fall into the trap of believing that you can manufacture certain outcomes. While you may be able to influence outcomes, you cannot control.

What is the difference between influence and control?

Influence is a two-way street that requires others to receive and buy in to your influence. For example, your colleague doesn’t have to use your influential suggestion. Heck, your colleague doesn’t even have to hear it—that choice is up to him or her. Therefore, influence is conditional.

Whereas control is completely unconditional.

Here is short list of examples to help you understand some of the work circumstances that are out of your control.

What You Don’t Control:

  • Others’ opinions
  • Others’ words, behaviors, and intentions
  • Your tasks, duties or what others expect of you
  • Raises, bonuses, promotions, RIFs, acquisitions, mergers, bankruptcies
  • The workplace system, culture, and leadership decisions
  • And more!

Generally, external things are out of your control, such as outcomes and circumstances. When we tend to focus on things that are out of our control, we feel like we’re out of control…and career paths are out of our control.

Thus, wouldn’t it make sense to deliberately put more focus on the things you can control?

Step 3. Focus on What You Can Control

Listen, I’m not saying any of this is easy—this is tough work!

But if you can start to focus more on the things that are within your control, it will free up head space and lessen your stress. Not only will you feel more in control (because you will be in more control), you can enjoy things that truly matter in life! Here is a short list of examples.

What You Do Control:

  • The way you think of yourself
  • The way you talk to yourself
  • The things you do and say
  • How you behave
  • The way you perceive your surroundings
  • The way you interpret others’ words/actions
  • Your value systems

Generally, internal things are within your control, such as belief systems and attitude. See Post #54 for self-confidence tips!

Your brain, as you read this, may want to pushback or object. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, I must be concerned about others’ opinions because my reputation and job depends on them!”

Ah-ha. This is your conditional belief system kicking in. Most likely, you have been nudged throughout your life to believe that others’ opinions matter. Perhaps they matter just a bit.

What matters much more is your own opinion of YOU.

See, what happens when you create fierce belief and ultra-confidence in yourself (by focusing on the things you get to control) is that nothing has the freedom to get in your way. You can show up in life and be you, without apology. Being comfortable in your own skin allows you be authentic while still acknowledging imperfections.

If you can learn the skill of pleasing yourself from within, other like-minded people will take notice and you will attract them into your network.

Thus, if something falls outside the realm of your control, such as career path, work to dismiss it from your mind. Focus instead on recognizing those things that are within your control, and work to strengthen them.

Read Part II, Blog #99, to find out how!