The average person will change careers 5–7 times during their working life according to career change statistics, with 30% of the workforce now changing careers or jobs every 12 months.
This statistic is interesting to me because I believe that the 30 percent statistic is going to continue to rise. Right now nearly 1/3 of people will change their jobs within the first year. That’s alarming. Why are people changing their jobs? What is causing them to look for something new? One thing that I’ve read and heard is that the younger generation is not just satisfied with having a good career, that makes money, and supports their family. They want to have a purpose and live out that purpose in the form of their career.
That is not a bad goal, nor should it be looked down upon. However, what do we do when that’s not possible? What do we do when we don’t have the career that we eventually want? Should we just keep searching until we find it? Possibly. However, what if there is a different way to keep chasing dreams while staying in the same workplace for longer than a year? What if there was a way to stay committed to who you are, even in a job that doesn’t fit where you want to be?
Simon Sinek, in his TedxPugetSound talk, explained that the best companies in the world don’t start with what they do or how they do it, they start with why they do it. What if we could do the same things on a smaller scale with ourselves? What if, instead of starting with what we do for a career, or how we do it, we started with why we do it?
Here’s the purpose for starting with our own personal why. If we figure out our why, the what becomes much less important. Let me give you an example. I’ve been an Elementary PE Teacher for the last 8 years. I have aspirations to be a Mental Performance/Leadership Coach and Speaker, while working in the game of baseball. These are my goals. However, right now, as I work toward that career, I am teaching K-5 PE. So what should I do? I have a wife and 3 year old son, so I can’t quit. I have students depending on me each and everyday, so I can’t mail it in. So again, what should I do? Start with my why.
My personal why is to: Encourage and Empower the next generation of leaders and have a meaningful impact on everyone I come into contact with.
This why has no career boundaries. I could work at McDonald’s for the rest of my life and honor this why. Is that what I’d want to do, no, but could I still have impact and honor who I am as a person? Absolutely.
So who are you? What is your why? Can it translate across careers? If you truly know you why, it won’t matter what you do, because you will be working out of who you are and not based on what you do. Figure out your why first, because if you do, your career aspirations can be endless. We need to stop searching for the next best thing and begin understanding that where we are is where we need to be in that moment. Yes, there are absolutely times to move on, and eventually I will too, but we must learn to be where our feet are and have an impact where we are in that moment. Too many times we are searching for our dream, and we miss the impact we can have on the people right next to us. There’s a reason you are where you are, so learn who you are first, then chase the career you want.