I remember as a young child, lining up my dolls and stuffed animals on my bed, and standing before them with a piece of chalk and the back of an old, full-length mirror. I was writing down their lesson on the mirror’s cardboard backing while my “students” listened intently to their 5-year-old teacher as I explained their music, spelling, and math lessons. I would do this for hours, day after day, getting completely lost in the joy of teaching.
As I got older, well into elementary and high school, I found opportunities to teach my fellow classmates in any way I could, whether through tutoring or as a teacher’s assistant. So when it was time to choose my major in college, it was a shock to some that I didn’t choose the field of education. How was it that this natural-born teacher ended up in the school of business as an accounting major?
Well, at the time, teaching wasn’t as popular as the business fields. But what really influenced me was the advice from my grandmother, a retired teacher herself. She said to me, “Baby, you don’t want to go into teaching. They don’t pay you enough. You’re smart. You should go into business.” I was young, impressionable, and trusted my grandmother’s advice. After all, she had taught for almost 3 decades, so she had to know what she was talking about.
So down the path of accounting I went, doing well, but without the passion and excitement I had felt about teaching. Upon graduating, I accepted a job in the accounting field, almost completely letting go of my desire to teach. It was a just a year into it that I began to feel unfulfilled and unmotivated. While those around me eagerly tackled accounting-related projects, I had to push and prod myself to maintain enough interest to complete each assignment. After a couple of years of this, I knew that I needed a change in order to be fulfilled at work.
Have you ever felt this way? Unfulfilled in your current career or role? Have you ever questioned whether you were good at anything because you just couldn’t find the right “fit” for yourself? Being fulfilled in your career, whether in the workplace or at home, begins with identifying your strengths.
A great method for identifying strengths you possess is to think back to your childhood and look for those positive patterns of behavior that seem to have always been a part of you. Think about those activities you engaged in that made you feel strong and excited. What were those things that got you up early in the morning or kept you up late into the night?
Through identifying your strengths, you may discover a new career or opportunity that allows you to be fulfilled every day. But don’t stop with just identifying your strengths. Take action to begin utilizing your strengths. It may not mean switching careers, but it may mean identifying or creating new opportunities within your current situation for you to use your strengths.
After recognizing that my strengths were not within true accounting work, I began searching for other opportunities within the company. I joined committees which allowed me to speak to groups. I volunteered to mentor groups of new employees. I raised my hand to make presentations at department meetings. I continued to search out opportunity after opportunity which allowed me to teach until I ended up in a position as a consultant and trainer for the company, then ultimately as a self-employed coach and trainer. It was then I found fulfillment on a daily basis.
So are you ready to be fulfilled in your career on a daily basis? Start by identifying your strengths and then take the steps to live in your strengths. You’ll be glad you did.