Copyright 2006 Mary Foley
Ive come the conclusion that to be successful – really successful Ive got to love what I do. Not like it okay, not do it because I know how, not do it because Ive invested so much time and energy so far. I mean LOVE it! I mean the kind of love that makes you want to get up in the morning and get going. Because your work has meaning, significance, fulfillment. If these arent words that describe what you do day-in and day-out, then perhaps this year is your time to make a change, to step up to your big, bodacious moment (BoMo).
The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on your life, including your personal career satisfaction. How satisfied are you with your career on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely satisfied? Thats a question I kept asking myself during my years at AOL. Year after year my answer was a 7, 8 or higher. The vast majority of time I felt passionate about what I was doing; I believed what I was doing mattered. When my score dipped I asked myself serious questions as to why. Several times this process helped me pinpoint changes I needed to make to get me back on track. One time my rating was below 5 and stayed that way. This time it wasnt about me making adjustments. It was about facing that it was my time to go. My BoMo was at hand.
I still remember the scene. I was in my managers office after being away for several weeks attending grad school. He caught me up on what had happened while I was gone, things I needed to attend to. I listened and took notes, all the while waiting to find out whether he was moving to another department, which would make his position empty and give me a last shot at the promotion I wanted. I sat there with a strange mix of calm and anxiousness. I had already determined during my time away that if the answer was no I was going to plan my exit strategy. After 75 minutes, no word. So I casually but deliberately asked him how those plans were working out for him. He quickly told me they werent; he was staying. And, quietly, resolutely, to myself I had my BoMo: I was leaving. I had to find the next thing that would give me the internal satisfaction that made a career worthwhile.
We not only have the opportunity to do meaningful work, we have the responsibility to make the most of this rare opportunity. Especially in these challenging times of economic and global unrest, its so easy to forget that we live in an unprecedented country. Theres no other nation on earth where I can carve out a life that suits me, especially as a woman. Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do with My Life?, says that answering that question isnt just a productivity issue, its a moral imperative. Its how we hold ourselves accountable to the opportunity were given. Most of us are blessed with the ultimate privilege: We get to be true to our individual nature. Our economy is so vast that we dont have to grind it out forever in jobs we hate. For the most part, we get to choose.
Finding what you love takes time and takes guts. It took me several years to find my new passion and its required that I venture into unknown territory. It started with being willing to ask myself how satisfied I was with my career. To face the answer and do something about it took courage. And it took a BoMo fixed in time to give me the resolve to follow-through. Im not the first person to go through this journey and I wont be the last. Perhaps youre next!