Career and Jobs

The 3 Best Ways To Thoughtfully Curate A Career With Intention

Everyone wants to build a career they love, one that puts their talents to their highest and best use while achieving their professional goals.

But somewhere along the way, you start to drift off course. You’re plenty busy but have the sneaking suspicion you’re not making progress, so you make a mental note to do something about it.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your day-to-day happenings, blindly going through the motions of your professional world. And if you’re not careful, days, months, or even years will go by, and you’ll find yourself wondering how you strayed so far from your professional aspirations.

Great careers don’t happen by accident; they’re built with intention. Here are the three best ways to thoughtfully curate yours:

1. Get clarity

You can’t create a meaningful career if you don’t know what you want.

Clarity is all about focus. Without clarity, you’ll forever spin your professional wheels, unable to articulate your goals, wandering aimlessly.

The best way to get clarity is to ask yourself, “What do I want?” Though it may seem like an easy exercise, it can be surprisingly difficult for some. This is especially true for those who wrestle with fear and insecurities about acknowledging their dreams.

Also, realize that you’re allowed to change your answer over time; what you wanted when you began your career may no longer apply. Now might be the perfect time to reinvent yourself or pivot. Challenge yourself to be open enough to allow new and alternative possibilities to emerge.

But here’s the thing about clarity: it demands specificity, and there is no room for a wishy-washy answer. You can’t make progress if you “kind of” want something. The more focused you can be about what matters most to you, the better.

2. Gain alignment by upping your awareness

Being clear on what you want isn’t enough; you also need to align your goals with a plan to achieve them—and stay away from the things that can derail you.

Without awareness, you’re doomed to a passive career that happens to you. Worse, you may unconsciously repeat what you’ve already done, wondering why you don’t see results.

Alignment is about intentionally supporting your goals through your actions, thoughts, and environment. This starts with understanding how you’re spending your time and where and with whom you’re investing your attention and then asking yourself if this choice helps you move closer to your goals or prevents you from achieving them. Say yes to those people and things that support what you want, and don’t be afraid to say no to those who do not.

It’s also important to use your awareness to check with yourself—are you getting in your own way through negative self-talk and a fixed mindset? The stories you tell yourself are the most important words you speak. Words have power, so choose them wisely and maintain a growth mindset to encourage progress.

Remember, if you’re not changing it, you’re choosing it. So make sure you’re intentional with your choices and that they align with and support your goals.

3. Take action

Knowing what you want and having a plan to achieve it is one thing; doing it is another. The key to building a career with intention is to hold yourself accountable and take action.

Unfortunately, this is where many professionals stumble and stall. They rationalize their behavior by telling themselves it isn’t the right time and that they’ll get to it later, but sadly, “later” never comes.

Procrastination is rooted in fear—of failure, of success, or of not being perfect—and fear is a powerful emotion. We feel anxiety when we’re pushed to do things that make us uncomfortable, so naturally, we avoid them at all costs.

Here’s the hard-to-hear truth: Good intentions mean nothing if they’re not backed up by execution. Action is the antidote to fear, stagnation, and passivity. And the funny thing about action is that it begets more action. Once you start, you build momentum and are more inclined to keep it going. Taking action is empowering and contagious, fueling continued growth.

If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. And by intentionally getting clarity, seeking alignment, and taking action, you’ll create a career you love.

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