Laurie is a “successful” attorney according to most people. She has earned an advanced degree, prestige as a lawyer, a good salary and is recognized as an expert in her field. Her co-workers and colleagues look up to her as a respected leader. But Laurie doesn’t feel that way about herself. She feels like an imposter at work and lately has begun to dread going to the office. She doesn’t like her work environment because she feels it’s not collegial and team-oriented. She feels like everyone is out for themselves and their own interests.
When Laurie called me, she was really down and feeling isolated. She knew this was not her dream job. But how could she justify walking away from a career at which she was successful? Through the coaching process, we started to unpack the difference between what others expected of her and what she wanted for herself. I find that many people in mid-life are in this same place. There is a lot of societal pressure to stick with a job or career when you are successful on the outside, even if you are miserable on the inside. If you are in this position and tell a friend you are unhappy, they will probably think you are crazy to consider changing jobs or professions.
Success is often measured by fame, an impressive title, having a big salary and a fancy car. But all of those are fleeting and leave you feeling empty in the end (sooner or later!). How you truly find success is to identify your unique purpose and bring your purpose to your work. When you are able to apply your special talents and passions on the job every day, it results in deep personal fulfillment and the satisfaction of contributing to society in a meaningful way. At that point, you will truly be “successful.”
So how did Laurie do this? She discovered through our coaching sessions that her life purpose was to provide solutions. She does this naturally everywhere she goes. For fun, she enjoys solving complex word puzzles and researching dense legal regulations. You might think to yourself, “What? That’s not fun.” It is to Laurie. She loves solving problems and helping others. She found that what made her current work environment so difficult was it did not allow her to provide solutions. In fact, finding solutions was actively discouraged. It was killing Laurie one day at a time.
Once Laurie got in touch with her gift to provide solutions, her perspective on her future career paths changed dramatically. She is currently defining what kind of job she is looking for next. It may or may not be in a legal field, but it will allow her to provide solutions every day and she is so excited. The best part is now Laurie does not define success by whether or not she wins a legal argument or how many hours she bills, but by how she is able to provide solutions every day. By identifying her unique purpose and finding a job at which she can apply her purpose, she knows that she will be successful no matter what she does.
Today’s article by Now What?® facilitator Kirsten Meneghello first appeared in Inspirational Woman Magazine and is posted on our blog with permission.