Opportunity is overrated (and “what will I do next?”)

Adults are always asking kids what they want to do when grow up because they’re looking for ideas.

Paula Poundstone

If you’re thinking about leaving your job, you first need to determine where you’re going. You probably already know that, and it may be why you haven’t left yet.

Most people are looking for opportunities. Don’t. Instead of hoping something comes along start by gaining personal clarity. Instead of looking for a job, first discover your vocation.

Discover your vocation

Vocation is your answer to “what am I here for?” or “how do I contribute?” When you don’t know the answer, opportunities are harder to decipher. You may end up filtering through potential jobs based on some arbitrary factor that isn’t most important to you. You might get another job, but might not any happier. When you clarify your vocation, the right opportunities become more obvious.

So…what is my vocation?

Perhaps you made a personal mission statement on a retreat or with a life coach. Chances are…you forgot it. Knowing your vocation is different than having a mission statement. Your vocation doesn’t have to catchy, pithy, or alliterated. But it does need to be clear. Vocation is the intersection of what your passion, your skill, and the need around you.

When you meet a need, your work is purposeful. Others-focused work always leads to more fulfillment. If you aren’t sure what needs to meet, spend more time listening to those around you.

Passion is your fuel. Without it, it will be hard to generate momentum and motivation long-term. If you aren’t sure what you’re passionate about, turn off the news and social media and pay attention to what bothers you.

Your skill is how you create impact. Keep developing it to add the most value to the world around you. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out this tool to begin discovering your God-given genius.

If you’re thinking of leaving your current job, start by discovering your vocation. Some guidelines:

  • Don’t try to jazz it up. This is only for you. Better to try to be honest than to be compelling.
  • Don’t start at the middle of the circle. Reflect on each circle individually.
  • Passion is the hardest to fake. Don’t. Listen to what breaks your heart (it helps to stop listening so much to what is bothering everybody else).
  • Skill is the easiest to learn. Don’t give up.

There are two ways to start an exit strategy. If you look for opportunities, you’ll ask:

  • What is out there?
  • What sounds good?
  • What leads to more money, flexibility, or better perks?

But when you start with vocation, you’ll ask:

  • Who am I?
  • What is aligned to what I care about and can contribute to?
  • What leads to more impact?

Discover your vocation, your answer to what you will do next. I’ll come back next week to share how you figure out where you’re going next.

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