What’s next in your career? What’s the next move you need to make to be fully engaged in God’s calling for the work dimension of your life? In our first post, we explored the most common mistake people make when pondering their next: they take the path of least resistance instead of the path of clarity.
Clarity is won through a deep understanding of ourselves, the market for our talent, and the process of connecting job openings to the solutions we provide. In this post, we focus on four building blocks of personal clarity. Developing deep awareness of each component will infuse your next career move with confidence.
Four Building Blocks of Personal Clarity
1. Confirmed Abilities:
The process starts with your confirmed abilities. It is almost impossible to build a long-term career that is both satisfying and effective if the work you do does not tap into your innate talents and capabilities. Why would you want to spend years of your life trying to be good at something for which you have only average ability?
Isn’t it more energizing and confidence-building to invest yourself in tasks which you learn quickly and can do well?
How do we confirm our abilities?
First, we invest in an assessment that provides objective confirmation of our talents. Aptitude tests address this issue. In our practice at VOCA, we prefer the Highlands Ability Battery, a comprehensive tool for categorizing and measuring innate talent.
Second, we collect feedback from people with whom we have worked. What do they see as your greatest strengths? What kind of work tasks and assignments bring out your best performance and highest energy? Getting answers to questions like these fuel clarity.
Objectively measured and group verified abilities are the foundation of your career. The older we get, the less tolerant we are of work that does not load on our hardwired capabilities.
How can you discern which profession is right for you if you don’t know what your core talents are?
2. Proven Skills:
Proven skills are the marketable competencies you have developed through your work and educational experience. Proven skills answer this question: what kinds of tasks can you prove that you do well?
We tend to develop our best skills on the back of our confirmed abilities. Most of us also have to develop other skills to be effective, skills that don’t come naturally yet are essential if we want to work with others and advance.
How do you know what your skills are?
Review your work experience (and education and volunteer history). What types of results have you been able to produce? What about you drove those results? What kinds of tasks have you consistently performed well?
Passion is sustained interest. Wild enthusiasm is highly overrated as it comes and goes. Sometimes passion is a burn to fix something or address evil in the world. Sometimes passion is more about interest and opportunity. It must be sustained over time to be valuable in career discernment.
Specific emotions provide clues when it comes to discovering your passion
- What kinds of work/tasks/accomplishments consistently bring you joy?
- What problems, challenges, and issues in the world or workplace make you sad and angry?
- What matters to you at the end of the day? (At the end of your working life?) As Peter Drucker says, “how do you want to be remembered?”
All three other building blocks fit into the box of boundaries. Boundaries define what is inside the realm of possibility and what is not. Clear boundaries make it easy to say no, which saves you time as you avoid burning capacity on options that are not real options. How do you dial into your boundaries?
Ask yourself the following questions as you contemplate your next move:
- What are my geographic boundaries, in what communities or cities, do I want to work?
- What are my skill and ability limitations? We don’t like to talk about this, but none of us can do everything, despite what your mother may have told you. (Take me for instance, at 5’4” playing in the NBA was never really an option.
- What values do you want to honor and never compromise in your work?
Answer questions like these and clearly define what is in the box of possibility and what is not.
Four elements provide you a robust grid for making decisions. They force you to balance passion with reality, to cross-check the realities of your present against your desired future. As we tell clients frequently,“facts are your friends.”
Knowing the truth about yourself rapidly accelerates your path forward to work that is more aligned with who you are.
Using a multi-point grid makes it easier to discover the truth about yourself.
The What’s in Your Hand Question
When God was recruiting Moses for a particular assignment in Egypt, Moses was frustratingly hesitant. At one point in the dialogue, God asks Moses, “what is in your hand?” The answer, a shepherd’s staff. As events unfolded, God showed Moses over and over that the staff in his hand was all God needed to accomplish the full scope of his purpose.
The four building blocks of clarity is a way God asks us: “what is in your hand?” “What do we have to work with as you discern your next steps towards the future I’ve designed for you?”
How About You?
Based on the grid above, what is in your hand?