3 Career Choice Mistakes – #1 To Sin

This past week at church our Pastor was speaking about committed relationships – and although it was useful wisdom for my marriage, it got me thinking about our commitments to our work. I typically listen to almost everything that resonates for me through a filter of “Wow – good points. How would this apply to how people approach their work?” Often I can easily bridge an analogy – so through this blog let me share an analogy of how challenges, rewards and possible pitfalls related to looking for love in a relationship are similar to looking for love with your job.

In my Pastor’s message he was addressing people who were already married as well as people who might be wishing for a martial partner. I’m happily married but I certainly remember life before I met my husband and I remember deciding on my criteria for “marriage material”, but I also remember deciding I would have a great life whether I got married or not.


At that time – nearly 16 years ago – to celebrate my decision of having a happy life – single or married – I decided to do things that I thought wouldn’t be practical if I were married with kids in the near future. The first thing that came to mind was to buy white furniture for my new home – so I did! And that is as far as it went because shortly after my furniture was delivered, I met my husband. I felt that he manifested so quickly in my life because I was clear and at peace with 1 thing – that I would have a great life and I knew what that would include – married or single. So a great life showed up – something far beyond my vision of remaining single with white sofas.


About 1 year later, I remembered having similar thoughts about my work – this is back when I had my first experience of hating my job. As soon as the hate settled in, I said to myself “wait a minute, uh uh, this is not good enough – I will love my work”. Finding a job I could love took longer than finding a mate I loved because back then I wasn’t as smart about finding a job I could love as I was about finding a mate I loved. I did the first step right – deciding to have a job I could love just like I decided I would have a life I could love – but I didn’t decide to have it no matter what – in the job I already had or in another one – like I did with my life (it would be great no matter what – married or not!)


So, in church, when the Pastor was suggesting that single people who are not grounded in their beliefs might be at risk for making 3 career choice mistakes in the name of “finding love” it struck a chord in me. I didn’t fall for any of these traps when I was single and in return I believe I was rewarded with an amazing mate – one that met and far exceeded my criteria. I also could see that I unwittingly applied a lot of this same logic to finding a job I could love.


So you’re probably saying to yourself “enough already – what are the 3 career choice mistakes and how might they apply to my work life as well”? Over the next few weeks I will share the 3 career choice mistakes with you and I will suggest a 4th choice solution that can be applied to your work.


Career Choice Mistake #1 – To Sin


For finding love in a relationship this might look like – engaging in a relationship with someone already committed to another or committing to someone who doesn’t hold the same beliefs that you do


For finding love with your work this might look like – working a job meant for someone else because it is not a good match with your talents, interests, preferences and/or values


In all of my 20+ years as an HR professional I have always observed that at the root of every employment issue is someone somewhere who’s in a job they don’t belong in.  That means they are in a job that’s not a good match with what they do well naturally or a work environment that’s not a good match with their values and preferences. Typically, you know who the culprit is because they are the ones blaming everyone and everything else for the problem at hand. I spend years asking myself “Why do people stay in jobs that are not a good match for them? Why do they renounce sharing their God given talents with others?” I knew why I did it when I went through this but I wanted to know why others did it. I have found the answers are pretty predictable – it’s usually one or more of the following reasons – Lord knows I was guilty of every one of them earlier in my career …


Because they don’t fully understand their talents, interests or preferences and how to match them to a job so they take the jobs that come their way and hope for the best – Leo Buscaglia said “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” Part of our life’s work is to discover our talents – that is a fundamental responsibility we all have to God, ourselves, and to humanity. If you are not clear about what you do naturally and easily and how it can make a difference for another – then decide to discover it and once you do – do everything you do through the filter of your talents.

Because they fear contributing everything they can out of belief they might lose somehow in the process – maybe you fear getting work you won’t enjoy, maybe you fear failure, or loss of reputation, etc. If this resonates for you – what is it you fear you might lose? I used to be afraid of losing my job and of people thinking I was incompetent. Actually what I discovered, is the more I gained in experience and skill and the more I fed the fear of others thinking I was incompetent – the more my contributions were questioned. It was as if others could sense that I was smarter and more competent than I was letting on and it was only getting me into more trouble to hold back my knowledge and experience out of fear of being wrong or adversely impacting another if my judgment was off. That’s when I decided it would be a greater sin to possibly get fired for something I didn’t do that I believed could make a difference than for something I did that I didn’t believe mattered except to maybe cover my own ass.

Because they need traditional markers of material success to feel successful (money, stability, power, prestige, large scope of responsibility, staff, title, etc.). As the Bible says, “…You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) The work-relevant translation of this is – our purpose is to serve others and in deciding to serve others, God reveals our talents. So, through your work, you cannot make both discovering and sharing your talents to bring benefit to others and getting all the money you can while serving others a priority. We all must choose one or the other as our priority. In my experience, those who chose to discover and share their talents find that money (more money than they could ever earn just in the pursuit of money alone) naturally follows.


When we make the pursuit of money – or any traditional marker of material success the priority – we never get to develop or share our talents beyond anything we could imagine and in return experience true happiness and fulfillment. Pursing material success is like saying to God – “I don’t trust that you will fulfill me divinely and materially for discovering and sharing my talents.”


All 3 of these are externally-focused reasons for pursing and staying in a line of work and eventually they will drain you of your energy because they give power to things that are not within your control.


How can anyone sustain energy, engagement or confidence when they are not clear about their purpose? Or when they are operating out of fear? Or when they are at the mercy of others to define the benefit they bring to others and create their rewards? Or when they work in a job or for an employer where there is conflict of values or beliefs?


When we set up our lives in favor of external sources for gratification, our choices will have a short shelf-life for happiness and a limit to how successful we can become or feel. Looking for gratification externally means having a “What do I get?” mindset. Getting is never the path to sustained fulfillment. And when we are focused on getting, it becomes difficult to see clear opportunities to give.


It’s a “sin” when we hold back discovering and matching our talents to a job that will easily enable us to share what we can do well naturally with others. It’s also a “sin” to work against your values or beliefs. When we do so, all we will experience in return (at best), are rare, fleeting moments of satisfaction. At worst, we won’t be happy and eventually may suffer the physical and psychological affects of job burnout.


I have witnessed employees at all levels yell, kick and scream over titles, office sizes, scope of responsibility and pay/bonuses that are near, at (and sometimes even over), the top of their pay scale because it’s “not enough”. And they were right – no amount of material reward is ever enough when you are in a job that requires you to give anything other than your best and most natural talents.


I have many 40 something year old clients who wake up one day and realize there is no such thing as enough “battle pay” – the money you take to try to numb the pain of working in a job you don’t enjoy – to keep working a job they hate. No amount of bills, or responsibilities to other family members can make them stay in a job they hate and simply no longer have energy for. So when you choose work that doesn’t feel like a good fit but it brings you traditional markers of success, that might feel great for awhile.  But as they say, money doesn’t buy (or sustain) happiness.


Choose in favor of discovering and sharing your talents, interests, preferences and values with others and enjoy rewards beyond anything you could possibly imagine which are sure to follow on a divinely timed scheduled.  Find out how at indigoforce.com

About Gina Calvano

Gina Calvano is a certified coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, with over 20 years of experience as a talent management professional in both the private and non-profit sectors. With a unique approach, she combines her strategic corporate expertise and accreditations with metaphysics and transformational thinking which has resulted in people all over the world feeling good about themselves and connected to a sense of purpose.

She created the Success Readiness Bootcamp™, a step by step process that enables people to easily discover their unique talents and abilities and match them to majors, jobs, industries and leisure pursuits. Gina is also the co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life with NY Times Best Selling Authors Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood and Powerful Connections Made Easy™ with Aprille Trupiano, and is currently working on her next book — Caged in My Cube: The Turnaround Guide For Loving The Job You Hate.

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