“What is The Evolved Career?

It’s you, deciding what matters most to you. Then acting on it.

It’s you, reaching a point in your life that you will settle for nothing less than your work and your life having a profound impact. So you don’t.      

It’s you, working and living your story, in full.  It is where a labor of love sparks a career. 

We evolve throughout our lives in every way. Sometimes, the changes are so slow and slight that we don’t even notice them until we look in the rear-view mirror.

  • Are you the same person you were 5 years ago? Do you hope to be the same person 5 years from now? Not me.  
  • What job were you in 10 years ago? Would you want to be in that job today? Not me.

I won’t waste your time talking about how the world of jobs and careers has changed- you’ve no doubt experienced- and are still experiencing those changes. But for the record, the “good ol days” of 30 years and a gold watch were not really healthy for us as “evolving humans” anyway.  

Time and time again, I hear “I want my work life to matter”, and not just from millennials- from people at all ages and stages. It’s the getting from where you are to where you want to be that stops people in their tracks. 

Let’s start by taking a wider view of your career and your life.  

We think of careers and jobs interchangeably, but I think they are different in scope. Our paid job is a part of our career, certainly. Let’s say you work from 8-5 as an accountant at a manufacturing plant. Three nights a week you coach youth basketball and run the basketball league, and every Sunday, you teach Sunday school. 

Is the answer to the question what do you do? “I’m an accountant”? I think that sells you short and doesn’t even begin to tell your story. What if your answer was “My career is as an accountant in a company that makes machine parts and as a junior high basketball coach and a Sunday school teacher. I love working with youth to help them develop both physically and spiritually.” 

Your combination of the “ways, whys and wheres” of spending your time and talent is uniquely yours. It is your career story and you share it with no one else.  Isn’t that beautiful? 

And there’s more good news. You get to select the components of your career portfolio! Paint your own picture! Create your reality! Yay you! 

An evolved career is one that reflects who you are fully, right now. It is robust, it is bursting with life- and it is yours and yours alone. It’s you- working, living and doing what makes you more, well, YOU! 

You know, kind of like you as a human-complex, varied, changing, seeking, growing.    

That can be big, hairy and scary to some of the, er, less evolved among us. Because even after you figure out what your Evolved Career is, it will continue to, yep, evolve as you do. Instead of scaring you, it should excite you if you truly want your work life to matter.   

Kent Wellington is a partner in a law firm, which as you might imagine is a time and energy consuming job. But if you want to see him come alive, drop in to the rec center in urban Cincinnati on a Saturday and watch him in the midst of a gaggle of boisterous kids fighting for the basketball, surrounded by volunteer mentors who are committed to showing these youngsters how to be “hard workers, cheerful givers and over-comers” in life. Or listen as he tells an impassioned story about a woman living with breast cancer who has just returned from a vacation with her family, provided by The Karen Wellington Foundation, the organization he founded after his wife Karen died in 2007. Just a lawyer? I think not.        

 

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you were truly in sync in how and where you spend your time? This is usually the time when most sigh and decide it’s a unicorn, or at the very least, not possible for you. You know, because you are so special. I get it. When we look at our career/life happiness on a scale of 1-10 and put ourselves stuck at a 4, it’s hard to see 8 from there let alone that unicorn-y 10. But what if you could get to a 6? A 50% increase? That’s starting to sound like basket of wiggly puppies, indeed!       

Here are a few big hairy questions to get you started. (They are hairy because they can’t- or shouldn’t- be answered quickly or without considerable thought).

1. When you are dead and gone, and people are discussing you, how do you hope they will complete this sentence? “I think the biggest impact John/Jane made on his/her world is… ” 

After you have answered it, compare it to how you are choosing to spend your time and energy right now.

2. If you had $10k or 10 extra hours per week, how and where would you spend it? 

That tells you a lot about what you value-and know that there are no right or wrong answers here. You might give your money and time to teach music to children while your neighbor might choose a food pantry. All good! 

3. Where do you hope to be in 1-5-10 years? What are you doing to build that runway now?

The Career Fairy isn’t coming to save you. It’s all you, baby.

Make a list of actions you could take-for example, meeting key contacts, getting better clarity on what your “career evolution” looks like, learning or sharpening the skills you will need.  

When in doubt, take your best guess and get moving. Being in motion and continuing to pivot based on feedback and your own intuition will point toward and keep you moving in the right direction.