The Three P’s of Career Navigation
By Hansford Johnson
Assistant Vice President, Human Resources
Enterprise Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Management & Talent Acquisition
Managing your career can be an arduous task, but a very necessary one. While managing one’s career is a priority, I find that many people will exhale after landing a job, settle into it and then stay in that job even after years of frustration or doubts about their career path. Who says you have to stop pursuing a “career” that is meaningful, gratifying and has some semblance of what you dreamed of or dressed up as during Career Day in elementary school?
There is something powerful about transferring what is in your head, what you dream about and what you envision, to what is on a piece of paper. A study done by Dominican University psychology professor, Dr. Gail Matthews, shows that those who write out their goals are 42% more likely to achieve their goals. You know what is even more powerful than writing down your goals? Following through with them. And it all starts with how you see and manage the 50 or so hours you spend working each week. I don’t have the exact answer because we are all uniquely different, but I hope these three principles can serve as maintenance or help you start managing you career – I call them The Three P’s of career navigation.
Passion is what gets you going. It is that “thing” you do until your brain hurts. It keeps you up at night, and then you wake up only to do it again. Steve Jobs famously said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” The best way to accomplish this is by starting with your passion. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of time trying to find it.
Now you are probably asking yourself, “How do I find it?” Again, I do not have a “one size fits all” answer, but you can start with these questions:
- What would I do if I didn’t have to work?
- What issue in society do I want to solve?
- What comes easy to me?
Often, we hear the words “passion” and “purpose” used synonymously. However, I like to think of passion as the catalyst and purpose as the totality. If passion is what gets you started, then purpose is what keeps you going. If we organize our life around our passion, we can turn our passion into our story, and then turn our story into something bigger – something that matters and is purposeful. The concept of purpose can be difficult, however here are some building blocks to figure it out:
- Who are you? What do you stand for and what qualities, beliefs and personality traits make you authentically you?
- What do you do? Your default answer may be to describe your occupation, but I am asking about your calling. Another way to phrase the question is, what is the one thing you feel supremely qualified to teach others?
- Who do you serve or who do you do it for? Who are the people you’re helping to achieve happiness, fulfillment and significance?
- What do they want or need that they come to you for? How can they benefit from your skillset, network or/and knowing you?
- How do others change or transform as a result of what you give? What impact do you want to create?
The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” If passion is your “what” and purpose is your “why,” then preparation is your “how.”
However you define success, and whichever ladder you choose to climb, it’s inevitable that you will face some adversity and setbacks in your professional pursuits, but it should not be for a lack of preparation. Here are a few tools that have helped me along the way:
- Conduct informational interviews with as many people as you can to learn about their career journey, secrets to success, influences and inflection points. Never stop learning.
- Operate in your current job as if you are already in that next job. Stay a step ahead of the “game.”
- Block out time at the end of the week to review meetings and deliverables for the next week. Dedicate a max of 15 minutes to each future meeting to go over the audience, purpose and meeting agenda.
Put your career in the right perspective. Breaking your career plan down into small action steps will keep your focus on your passion and your goals. Your career is a journey with many inflection points. Put pen to paper, begin with an end in mind, and start by figuring out your what (Passion), why (Purpose) and how (Preparation).
Here are a few more resources to help you figure out your what, why and how:
- The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan (Book)
- Fixed vs Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives by Maria Popova (Article)
- Start With Why – TEDx by Simon Sinek (Video)
Hansford Johnson is Assistant Vice President, Human Resources for Enterprise Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Management & Talent Acquisition. Hansford has over 15 years of experience in human capital management and higher education leadership. He serves as the diversity and inclusion subject matter expert focused on the execution of targeted enterprise-wide diverse talent sourcing strategies.