Be on a Mission
The first step in building a smart career strategy is to be on a mission.
You don’t need to know your destination, but a direction helps get you moving.
A well crafted mission acts as a guide — and guides work best when they are specific. Specificity helps you arrive at focused questions to help collect valuable new information to guide your progress.
This may sound counter-intuitive.
I can hear you say, “But I don’t want to limit my options!”
Or “I don’t really know what I want to do!”
You are not expected to know exactly what you want or to have a passion identified. A mission helps you discover interesting opportunities.
You mission helps by:
- Focusing your field of vision
- Making you interesting
- Telling other people how to help you.
You don’t nee to worry about getting it perfect, you will make revisions as you gain new insights.
Focus your field of vision.
When you focus on less, you learn more. Weird huh? This works because the specificity of your mission reduces distractions and guides you to to seek out helpful information.
You will be able to ask questions like, “What is a leading publication on this topic?”
A focused field of vision will help you quickly grow your awareness of trends, challenges, and new companies that may strike your interest.
A mission makes you interesting.
You are not your job title or a student at the university of wherever. You are not unemployed. Give yourself permission to talk about what gets you fired up.
Think about your mission as an action statement. What impact, outcomes, or value do you create (or want to create)?
A mission tells other people how to help you.
I’ll use an example I hear often, “I want to work for a company with a social impact” — this is not specific enough for me to be helpful. What industry? What impact? Where in the world?
Contrast this example with, “I’m curious about eliminating systemic poverty through financial access and literacy.”
See how this delivers a specific action statement?
This sentence is easy to follow with, “How might I learn about opportunities in the US with micro-lending?”
When a specific need is presented, it is easier for people to help you.
Remember this → companies don’t hire you, people do.
What if I don’t know where to start?
Follow your curiosity. It is more important to build momentum than to pick the right place to start. Once you are taking action, you can always change course. The magic of getting into motion, is you tend to stay in motion.
What was the last thing you worked on where you completely lost track of time? Was is a hobby or side project?
Loosing track of time is a good starting point for uncovering interests. Here are some questions to help consider potential starting points.
- What do you want to get better at?
- What do people ask you for help with? On what topic are you a go-to person for advice or expertise?
- What skills or knowledge would you love sharing with the world? This might be organic chemistry, or coding, or knitting.
- What energizes you and why? Is it the nonprofit you volunteer with? Is it your monthly hobby club?
Practice, practice, practice.
A mission works best when you practice using it. You will re-craft your mission many times as you practice using it and start discovering more about yourself and what the world offers.
Remember, be specific and show how people can help you. Now own it and go tell the world what mission you are on!