Wanting more from work is the rule, not the exception.
Regardless of job level or age, American workers aren’t getting what they crave out of their jobs.
A 2015 University of Phoenix School of Business poll finds nearly 60 percent of all workers and 73 percent of 30-somethings want to change careers. The study goes on to note that nearly 40 percent of those who want to change careers are uncertain about what to do next.
That comes as no surprise to Todd Putman, general manager of Campbell Soup Co.’s Garden Fresh business division and co-author of Be More: Find Your Truth, Tell Your Story, and Get What You Want Out of Life. In countless conversations over the course of his career, Putman has counseled hundreds of co-workers who are ready to take their next step.
But across the board, he points to one fundamental shortfall he often encounters in those conversations. Too often these smart accomplished people are unable to say what they want, says Putman.
As he puts it, too many people can’t answer the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? In the answer to that question, argues Putman, is the personal story that defines what getting what you want out of life means to you.
To help answer that question and create the personal story that will help you move your career and your life forward, Putman shares the basics of the Skills Values Passion (SVP) Exercise presented in his book, Be More.
1. Identify the five exceptional skills that differentiate you in the workplace
Focus on what you do best, what truly makes you stand out. Think about what people say about you. What skills are consistently mentioned when people talk about the special contributions you make? What are the consistent highlights of your annual performance review?
Perform a skills inventory to begin to understand what skills you bring to the table. Use your list as a starting point for self-reflection to assess yourself in a genuine way.
When your list feels right, share it with someone you trust and ask them to comment on it. How you are perceived matters a great deal. Understanding how others view your work helps you see your skills more clearly, and will allow you to highlight the skills that matter most in your career.
“As you do this work, writing down your answers is essential,” says Putman. “Don’t try to do it in your head. The act of writing — and having those words stare back at you — challenges you and creates a commitment that makes it real.”
As you list your skills, also write why these are your particular strengths.
2. Recognize the four core values that drive your actions
Your values represent the things in your life that are most important to you, whether you are aware of them or not. They define and factor into your decision-making at a practical, day-to-day level. They determine not what you say you will do but the actions that follow your words.
Explore your values and also those of organizations where you want to work. Enumerating what matters most to you allows you to express yourself in a way that is compelling, honest, and true. It will help you find a career fit that results in a win-win at the end of the day.
As with skills, writing down what each value means in your life will help you articulate your four core values. If family is a value, it may be tied to your spouse, your children, or your parents. Think about how this value impacts your career. Family may influence where you want to live, the compensation you need, or the level of time commitment associated with your ideal job.
“It’s important to consider your values in an exercise about career,” says Putman. “Exploring your values provides a litmus test to gauge whether your career aspiration makes sense and will work for you in your world. When you understand the values that drive your decision-making, you will be better prepared to purposefully plot a course that is true to you.”
3. Acknowledge your one true passion
While some people are highly attuned to their passion, others have a hard time defining it. Your passion may be connected to your job or it may not. Regardless, recognizing and articulating it can light your path in a way that is meaningful to you.
If you aren’t sure what your passion is, think about this. What makes your heart beat faster? What makes you talk faster and maybe a bit louder?
Think about the answers to those questions. Look for a thread that connects them and you may find a way to define your passion — perhaps for motivating people, for creating impact, for inspiring change, or for making your personal mark on the world.
Embracing and sharing your passion makes you more interesting. Complex people have a sparkle like a multifaceted diamond that catches the eye and the interest of others.
“Don’t hide your passion,” says Putman. “Very often, it is the thing that makes you unforgettable. And being who you are will always be more interesting than who you might try to be.”
You career represents a big part of your life and how you define yourself. If you are part of the majority who wants more out of your job, the first step is being able to say what you want. When you can do that, you will be in a position to ask for the help that will move you toward greater fulfillment throughout your career.