How to Energize Your Career in One Week

At various times throughout your career, you may wonder if you’re on the right path. Maybe you’re unhappy and unsure if the answer is a new job, or a new career entirely. Or maybe it’s quite the opposite: You may feel too comfortable or complacent in the work you are doing. 

I’m a big fan of talking these kinds of questions through with a trusted mentor, however, I know that’s not always an option. And even if it is, they’ll likely encourage you to focus on where you are in your career journey.

So, how do you get one of “those” careers—one that aligns with your values and goals? I wish I could answer that in one article. What I can do is give you a five-day jump-start so you can ascertain how to utilize your strengths at work.

To get started, keep a journal or note card with you throughout the week. At the beginning or end of each day, spend a few minutes writing down your thoughts.

Day 1: Reflect on Your Values

Ayse Birsel, author of Design the Life You Love, says that we align ourselves with people who share our values. She suggests that you write down the list of five people you admire and what you admire about them to discover your own values. (It was a clarifying experience for me when I did this and I encourage you to try this exercise.)

This can be the start of determining what your values are, how you’re already living them, and what you want to further cultivate over time.

Day 2: Remember Where You Started

Think about what you wanted to be when you grew up. Now try to remember why. For example, at 18 I knew I wanted to have a career in fundraising. Before that, I dreamt of being a writer. (And there was that brief dream of being a fashion designer…) For me, my career dreams were always about helping others (while rocking amazing clothes!) and one of my strengths is sharing a vision, whether through speaking or writing, to inspire others to achieve what they didn’t think possible.

Again, it’s okay if your dream was far removed from what you’re doing. Maybe you wanted to be an astronaut, or a fire fighter, or a professional athlete, or a rockstar. What about the profession motivated you? See if you can identify what your early interests were and connect them to your present day life.

Day 3: Pay Attention to When You Hear the Same Compliment

You have unique gifts that make you who you are. Maybe you have the ability to inspire others around a common cause, or you see the perspective others overlook, or you thoughtfully analyze data to make recommendations for company decisions. Go back through the accolades others have sent to you for things you have done well.

Think about the compliments you frequently receive. What are the themes in the recognition? You may unintentionally downplay these things, because they come so naturally to you. In reality, these are your superpowers!

Day 4: Focus on What You Like to Do

What are the projects you gravitate toward? How do you enjoy spending your time at work? When you feel excited about your work, you work harder. (Except it often doesn’t feel hard, because of the energy generated by utilizing your inherent talent.)

All jobs will have some tasks that aren’t your favorite, but if you believe work should mean more than a paycheck, you absolutely deserve to look for work where you can find purpose, and, hopefully, fun.

Day 5: Consider How You Approach Failure

I often tell my employees and those I coach that mistakes are inevitable. This is an incredibly powerful truth for two reasons. First, it prepares you to make mistakes and learn from them. If you can master how you approach failure, you will be able to more fully develop your strengths.

Second, if you understand even the most talented people working their ideal jobs mess up sometimes, then you realize that losing out on a deal or getting critical feedback does not mean you need to change careers. It just means you are human.

 Now Go Make the Magic Happen

 Over the last five days, you have reflected on what is important to you, what your strengths and values are, and what you want to do with them. If you find yourself doubting your path—or your worth—look back on the notes you collected over this week. Remember you have many wonderful things to offer to the world. Use your strengths to support your personal and professional growth and make a meaningful difference.