A career vision – how to discover your true mission

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Have you ever heard a story that goes like this! A successful young professional who’s got it all, career, family, house and then all of a sudden this person is done, completely burnt out. What’s next is perhaps a “run for the hills” – it could be teaching yoga or the Camino pilgrimage. Is it middle age, or some other personal crisis born out of the feeling of being lost and without purpose?

You too may very well get stuck like this. If you don’t see the point in what you are doing for a living, not now, not in the long term, then you run the risk of losing the last shred of happiness in life.

How to avoid this? There we go in this article with some advice from our own personal experience.

Why work is important

If you have a regular job you might think that you are putting in around 8 hours a day.  Think again!

And when you do that take into account the time you are commuting, replying to emails and all other job-related commitments. Don’t be surprised if all of this amounts to more than 10 hours. This is most of the time you are awake. That’s why it is so crucial how you spend it.

Apart from the time, the job consumes lots of your energy as well. On top of that, it can also crowd out your other thoughts. One reason for stressing out is to labor on something that you have no interest in whatsoever. On the other hand, when you are emotionally invested then you burst up with energy. So, it was all worth it for you at the end of the day.

That’s how you can find out what’s good for you.

The three characteristics of the perfect job

We can all admit that in the course of our lives we all did stuff that wasn’t exactly “our thing”. Next time you decide on a new way to earn a living ask yourself these:

  • Is it well-aligned with your core values? It will be quite unpleasant to be employed at a tobacco store if you are a sworn non-smoker. This will be not only boring, dead-end job but also one contrary to your beliefs.
  • What does it do to your energy levels? Does it drain you out of all your juices? Or just the opposite – even if tired at the end of the day you are satisfied and still full of energy to go on with your other priorities in life?
  • Will it give you the opportunity to create value? There is no argument that you will be happier if you have a productive day doing something that ranks high on your value scale.

Work, career or a mission?

They say that passion is this thing that separates work from career. If we may go a bit further and add that it is inspiration that separates career from mission.

For years now we’ve been lucky to be involved with projects close to our hearts and therefore we are giving our best every single day.  There is a good reason to treat your career as a “mission”. This is possible only when it is filled with a sense of importance and meaning. For example, the mission of “GoalBuddy” is to help as many people as possible to reach their goals and realize their dreams.

Let’s have a look back at some history here.

Ivan – “I wanna get better”[1]

I went through different stages in life before I knew beyond any doubt what I wanted. Each of these was an invaluable lesson that only got me closer to my true mission.

In high school, I started doing affiliate marketing for a small company in the US. This was giving me only money but little else. I couldn’t see what would be the worth there. Soon afterward I started looking for new opportunities to bring me what I missed.

One such was my project mail.bg, the biggest Bulgarian email platform for its time. It was something that was giving true value to a lot of people. Of course, many mistakes were made but there was also a major lesson for me. It was that I needed a different approach, i.e. an environment that is not just supportive but stimulating to my personal and professional growth.

What followed was just like in the movies. On my last day in college, I saw a job posting. This was my next great chance. I got my feet wet in the corporate world of business. It was a German company where I finally got the meaning of the word career. Namely, the opportunity to progress nonstop while enjoying excellent pay and numerous contacts. Another day at the office meant yet another step forward in terms of knowledge and skills.

It is vital where, in what environment, we want to prosper. Still, regardless what place that might be, we have to be fully committed. No matter who our employer might be we still have to do our best and strive towards becoming more productive and effective.

Working for someone else made me realize I wanted something of my own

I founded a company which eventually became a market leader in automation software. It was helping people to be more efficient. That was the light-bulb moment for me.

A crystal clear thought emerged – I wanted not just job and a career but a mission. For me, this was to be of help to people. I am truly happy only when things get done, the personal and professional growth is non-stop while it is all about helping others to thrive as well.

Let’s fast forward to the present day. Nowadays I am running two important projects which are my current missions.

One is aula.bg, the biggest online learning center in Bulgaria with scores of courses and hundreds of thousands registered users.

My other mission, “GoalBuddy”, is the one we pursue together with Niki. Let’s hear out his story.

Niki – from working to survive…

My first job was sales representative. The sole purpose of it was to contribute to the family budget. It was one mindless job but it forced me to realize what I really craved for, i.e. an opportunity to unlock my potential.

That’s what I did and as a result of this, I started earning a living that was more or less based on my skills and talents at the time. While still in high school, I and a classmate, started a small business, a term paper writing service, on the biggest campus in my home town. I was typing graduate student’s papers till the time when I started writing those! No kidding here. I was so much in computers that I was better than most seniors at Sofia Technical University.

… to the Mission

This set me up on my future career road. Step by step I was climbing the professional ladder of a software company, first as a programmer, then Team Leader, Project Manager and finally all the way to Technology VP. And so on till today for more than a decade. All of this allowed me to be part of numerous interesting projects as well as to build up the corporate structure of a growing business.

And yet, I wanted something more. The idea didn’t materialize right away or out of thin air. It gradually took shape and finally formed after a long process of trial and error.

At some point, I was involved with two projects on the side. Both were successful financially and I proved myself as performing well under pressure. But at the end neither was what I hoped for. And on top of that, it was somebody else’s project. So, I did strike it out all on my own. This turned out to be quite a learning experience. It only pushed me onward and upward.

Right now my mission is the project “GoalBuddy”. I think it is an exceptionally effective method which gives, in the end, something of value.

Through the years I tried different things while my attitude was always to learn and do better. That’s how I got to know for sure what drives me most. It turns out to be not just money but something more.

“Dreams don’t work unless you do”

Even if our past experiences had little in common we are both of the same understanding what one needs to do in order to be successful and happy.

It’s quite simple indeed. You need to have a vision for what you want. At the same time keep in mind that your career, or mission, is not a detailed plan you can simply write down and be done with it. The way to come up with a vision is to act – you keep trying out different versions and approaches till you get it right.

We can easily get excited about what we intend to do but it isn’t obvious at all if we can stay, so to speak, “in high gear” once we get on with it. There is a big difference here.

Vision for mission, or the question you have to ask yourself

There is no doubt that vision for your professional development will give you clarity and focus, plus much confidence. The most important thing you get, however, is that you will be spared the feeling that life is passing you by without any trace of meaningful purpose.

Ask this – where you see yourself professionally in 25 years. There are two possibilities:

  • You might have a clear vision and then it is simply a matter of setting goals for learning and further development.
  • But you might not have a vision which means that your goal must be to experiment with different things, literally dig out of life “your thing”.

The goals of mission vision are two types. One is to find what the vision must be and the other is how to advance towards it.

Falling down and getting back up, or not to fall in the first place

If you have no mission yet then you’d better brace yourself! It won’t be an easy road. That’s for sure. It is regrettable that most people do nothing about it. Others start but then give up right away.

The attitude is at fault here. Imagine a scenario like this. You are at the beginning of something. You already have some expectations and know what would constitute your success. But then, sooner or later, failure will be bound to happen. You will have to get back up, dust off any pain and disappointment, and you will have to keep going on. That’s tough, very hard to do again and again. Eventually, you will be exhausted and on the brink of calling it quits.

Luckily for you, there is a way to minimize that risk. This is when you simply don’t have any expectations at all! Don’t commit to results. Just act and take notice of what happens next. It might be satisfaction, or something new you learned, and why not a new direction, even better when it is this feeling of inspiration.

Trial and error, or “trial and lesson”

There is this quite useful exercise you may want to check out. It should give you some idea in advance whether your new thing will make you happier.

Draw up a table with two columns. One called “Generating Energy” for actions that recharge you with power and the second called “Consuming Energy” for things that bleed you dry of it. Then in the process of pursuing your goal start filling in with your actions accordingly. This will soon provide you with a pretty good picture if you are on the right track or not.

You must know by now what to do next.

Goals for mission vision

So, if you already got a good idea for a vision then you set the 90-day goals and see what would transpire.

If you decide to start your own business then one 90-day goal might be to go to entrepreneur meetings. It is extremely valuable to hear their views, problems and success stories. You will be able to breathe in their “atmosphere”, i.e. you will see how they think and act, you will get the insightful view of their world.

We don’t claim that everybody is cut to be an entrepreneur. If you do have a boss and you already contribute to the worthy cause of creating value then the 90-day goals can simply be about making you even better. It is no coincidence that the best business people spend most of their time at the office learning new things.

Mission “GoalBuddy”

As far as our mission in the project “GoalBuddy” is concerned it is to help as many people as possible so that they can realize their dreams. We believe in a better world if people are happy and successful. That’s the reason our vision is to hand them some well tested and various resources.  The goal for this is, therefore, the development of the system as a whole as well as its unique “tool box”. Some examples:

  • A 90-day goal to come up with a name for the “small and big objectives” which we call today “90-day action goal” and “vision” respectively. This was actually the result of such goal.
  • Getting a model of our “GoalBuddy” system into a Project Management Software in order to refine it.
  • Registering a trademark since it turned out the name might be already attracting the attention of other entrepreneurs.
  • Finding software engineer to design the mobile app.
  • Organizing a workshop.

These are just a few of the examples that show how little by little we get closer and closer to our vision for the mission.

What is yours then? Let it be this what makes you happy. Whatever you chose, you have to give it 100%. Improve your environment. Be the change you expect to see.  A better world will inevitably come around if there are more people like you.

You can find the next interesting topic on our website. And don’t forget to register through email.

See you soon!

[1] Reference to the Bleachers’s song title “I wanna get better”

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