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How Our Career Goals Fit Within The Ecosystem of Our Lives by Leslie Juvin-Acker

January 28, 2016

We all have an idea as to what we’d like to experience in life. Our career goals fit within the scope of our lives often because what we do affords us the means to experience our overarching personal goals. It can be hazy to distinguish what career goals actually look like because there is a fine line between personal goals and professional aspirations.

For this article, I encourage you to take a step back to see the subtle differences and interconnectedness between career goals and life goals. Through this exploration, we’ll achieve a greater understanding that can empower us to make more informed and satisfying choices.

Career goals, similar to financial goals, often fulfill or take us a step closer to our personal goals. For example, we can want to travel the world and collect the world’s largest magnet collection; a job might help us achieve that. Maybe, we want to reach or surpass a financial goal. A job can fulfill that or take us a step closer to that goal. Maybe, we want to be home every night to feed and tuck in our babies. Again, our work can help us create certain conditions to make our vision possible.

The career is not something that exists within a vacuum - it’s a living, breathing expression of our lives in motion. So, it’s to say, from my experience, that nobody wants to be CEO “just because”. There always exists an underlying personal motivation which explains why we commit to long and challenging processes. Unless, you’re some glutton for punishment and even then there’s something deep going on there!

In my last article, we explored the whys of success. We’re building on this concept today to gain a greater, more meta understanding of ourselves and what we’re doing with our lives. So, quickly, off the top of your head: what are you top three long term career goals? Then, think of your top three personal goals. Write them down.

For the sake of this exercise, I’ll share my top three career goals right now:

1.    Establish and own a personal development center so that people know that there exists a place where it’s safe to explore and realize their potential.

2.    Coach as many executives and leaders as possible so that their employees can reap the benefits of a safe, encouraging corporate culture where anything, ideally growth and progress, is possible.

3.    Write blog articles and books to reach as many people as possible in a low cost and/or free format so that money is not an excuse or barrier to personal success.

By meeting these three career goals, I’d like to achieve the following personal goals:

1.    Personally and indirectly empower as many people, especially my own children, to be and do their true selves.

2.    Create abundance for myself and facilitate it for everyone else along the way.

3.    Fulfill what I believe I was born to do: assist others on their personal path of self realization.

I’m sure I make this exercise sound easy. “Yeah right, Leslie, like I know exactly what I want to do with my career, let alone my life. I don’t even know where I’ll be getting next month’s mortgage payment! Let’s focus on that, please!”

I’ve been there. I have. I remember a moment in my life when I literally had sixty cents in my bank account! For many of us, our career goals are usually determined by our financial situation. But, I warn, there is mental slavery in this kind of thinking and perception of life. My goal is to help you set yourself free... Stay with me…

When I ask my clients what they really want outside of the scope of doing a job to get money, the answers are usually foggy and the present opportunities are usually limited. However, when we explore the higher ideals and desired experiences, clients usually see a shift in their career goals, both on the long and short term. The “shoulds” and “have-to’s” merely become choices within a plethora of possibilities.

Often, my clients realize through this exploration that they don’t need as much as they initially believed to live happily and to achieve their goals. Even more importantly, they realize that they’re more capable than initially believed and have more freedom as the choices begin to appear.

Career goals are only as limited to what we perceive our over arching life goals. Take the story of Mike Tobia, Head of Product and Marketing for Dragon, as an example of this concept:

I sat down with Mike this week for a Malakye exclusive, on camera interview about leadership, career advancement, and work-life balance. Mike had this to say about career goals, “Life is constantly evolving and changing. I think it’s important for people to have goals and work towards them and I’m learning in life you need to be flexible as well.” Mike learned this lesson the hard way...

In a bizarre metaphor of flexibility, Mike broke his back in a horrific snowboarding accident leaving him to witness his career as a professional snowboarder slip away from his fingertips. Going from a pro-snowboarder to wondering if he’d ever walk again, Mike’s perspective of his life changed in an instant. And, as a result, so did his outlook on his career. Learning to walk again, he also took steps in a new professional direction which lead to amazing contributions to Dragon and Nike, innovating and shaping the way we see through visual products forever. (Come back to next week to see Mike’s personal success story on Leslie’s Lineup.)

Taking a deeper look at how our careers transform as a result of our greater life evolution and realization, one can see that, when planning our careers, how we’ve got to identify the overarching vision that drives our seemingly insignificant career decisions.

Our careers fit within the ecosystem of our lives. We can live without careers (toddlers and teenagers prove this point), but we cannot have careers without our lives. Taking insights from my personal example and especially from Mike Tobia’s inspiring story, draw your own links between what you want to achieve with your life and how your career helps you do that.

Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask Ourselves:

1.    What are my career goals? How do they help me fulfill, or take a step closer to, my personal life goals?

2.    Do I make career decisions based on temporary financial circumstances? How does this way of thinking help me and how does it limit my choices?

3.    How are my career goals integrated into my personal goals? How do my personal experiences affect my career decisions?

4.    When was the last time I was faced with a life changing challenge? How did the direction of my career shift as a result? How did it serve me on the long term?

5.    If I could achieve my personal life goals without the traditional concept of a job, how would I do it? How would I make my own version of a career? What would those goals be?