#99 Forget About Career Path-Create a Career System Instead! Part II

career path

This is a two-part article explaining the rationale behind ditching the idea of a career path and instead focusing on a career system. Given your system is up and running, the job or career path doesn’t matter nearly as much!

As a continuation from Blog #98, what does it look like to focus on the things that you control?

Presented here are three pillars to help you create purpose in your career, regardless of status or employment. Learn to strengthen these pillars for more confidence and satisfaction from within!

Step 4. Practice Three pillars of Career Purpose

Pillar One: Service

A service mindset involves contribution to things that exist outside of yourself.

For example, service can be as subtle as helping colleagues or your boss. It can include business etiquette such as timely responsiveness, answering questions honestly, or providing your best efforts. A service mindset involves serving the employer in the name of achieving business objectives.

On the surface, it may not sound difficult to help others or contribute when you believe you have been doing that all along. But herein lies the challenge—what do you do when contribution means you must work with difficult people?

Ah-ha! This is when service gets tricky. I think it’s safe to say we can all work on our interpersonal skills!

The workplace provides an opportunistic venue to strengthen your service skills.

Pillar Two: Development

A development mindset involves the expansion of your mind, such as intellect, hard/soft skills, and leadership competencies (see Post #45).

One of the easier and more popular avenues of development is to build hard skills, which are generally accessible thanks to modern technology. Not to mention, we’ve generally been conditioned to focus on hard skills over soft skills.

But let’s not forget the soft skills! Often dismissed as an afterthought, soft skills are an essential supplement to the hard skills. They include emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, communication, and self-confidence, to name a few.

Robust employees are well-versed in both hard and soft skills.

The workplace provides an opportunistic venue to strengthen your development skills.

Pillar Three: Legacy

Pillar 3 is not your traditional version of legacy!

When people speak of legacy, they often refer to surface-level features such as achievements, awards, or buildings. Famous legacies are usually renowned for external impacts, from the greatest inventions to the worst criminal behaviors.

If you are open to it, let’s explore a more enhanced, energizing approach to legacy.

Not only can legacy involve what you did, it’s about how you:

  • Improve everything and everyone around you, leaving them in a better condition 

  • Express thanks and gratitude 

  • Set the world up for prosperity, especially in your absence

For instance, legacy might mean you improved the vibe of a meeting and that everyone walked away in alignment. Maybe legacy is when you leave your role in a better state than how you found it.

Legacy can mean you influenced others to be their best, even if their work outshines yours. You can brighten someone’s day, mentor a youngster, or coach a team of colleagues. It could mean you planted trees, conserved water, donated money, or volunteered your time. 

The workplace provides an opportunistic venue to strengthen your legacy skills.

Step 5. Long Term Thinking—Who Do You Want to Become?

We may all strive toward measurable and finite goals that occur in one moment of time, such as earning a certification or promotion. This is great and gives us something to look forward to. However, this method can also leave you feeling depleted in the absence of reaching said goal, especially if you are attached to a certain career path.

Here is something else you can do for your career. I suggest you reach for non-measurable, infinite goals that may never be accomplished. “What? Why would I want to do such a thing,” you may ask.

The answer is this: Some of the worthiest objectives in life are the ones that cannot be tracked by time or metrics.

For example, perhaps you want to work on your:

  • Self-confidence
  • Communication skills
  • Being a better partner
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Work/life balance

This is just a snapshot of worthy and meaningful items in life that you just cannot measure.

To help with your long-term thinking, I challenge you to fill in the blank to this sentence. There are no wrong answers and be sure to include both personal and professional desires:

I want to become the kind of person who___.

Here are a few of my own examples:

  • I want to become the kind of person who lives my core values as much as possible.
  • I want to become the kind of person who learns a diverse skillset so that I can pivot careers.
  • I want to become the kind of person who can fluently speak another language.

Your turn, try it! List as many answers as you can think of.

Step 6. Own Your System

Congratulations, you have almost established your own controllable career system, and now you can forget about the volatile career path!

Your career system so far includes:

  • Step 1 Live in alignment, as best you can, with the fifteen core values that represent who you are,
  • Step 2 Recognize the things outside of your control and refocus your efforts on
  • Step 3 Things are within your control,
  • Step 4 Build a strong internal foundation by exercising the 3 pillars of career purpose,
  • Step 5 Document who you want to become, which isn’t necessarily measured by criteria or time

What’s next?

Ownership may be the most critical piece of your career system. See Post #95 for additional ownership tips.

It is incumbent upon you to deliberately assess and focus on fulfilling Steps 1-5. It may require molding or adjusting over time. In fact, I encourage you to revisit these steps once or twice a year.

If you fiercely own your belief systems while strengthening internal transformations and having your own back (especially when others don’t), then your career system is up and running beautifully. That means your role, title, or employer doesn’t matter nearly as much…

Because the purpose of a career, after all, is finding ways to self-expand while validating yourself in the process!

So long as you are owning your values and becoming the kind of person you’re aiming to be, your career system is running just fine and the external world matters less.

If you enjoy this content, I invite you to ask me about free career strategizing and follow me on LinkedIn!