Career and Commitment

November 16th, 2007 by Steve Pavlina

How committed are you to having a career you absolutely love?

Your level of commitment plays a key role in the process of creating a fulfilling career.  When people are undercommitted to their careers, they tend to get lousy results.  When they get clear about what they want and commit themselves to creating it, however long it takes, they usually get there in some fashion.

Action reveals commitment

How do you know how committed you are?  You can tell by your actions… by what you consider important enough to carve out time for.

For example, if your career seems to be in the dumps right now, but you somehow manage to keep up on all your favorite TV shows, what does that say about your level of commitment?  Doesn’t it say you’re more committed to idle entertainment than to spending each day doing work you love?  Procrastination is a tempting short-term choice, but in the long run, it will only keep you trapped.  If a great career really matters to you, your actions will show it.

Incubation vs. delay

What about waiting for inspiration?  Incubation time.  There’s a big difference between actively seeking inspiration through activities such as introspection, journaling, meditation, and purposeful reading vs. idle delay.  As a rule of thumb, if you aren’t sure whether you’re incubating your greatness or just delaying, you’re delaying.

Making time for career development

Where do you get the time to work on your career development?  Just set a simple goal to tackle the most obvious step ahead of you, and then cut out all nonessential activities until it’s done.  By that I mean no TV, movies, web surfing, parties, etc. until you’ve figured it out.  Your next step might be something like writing a purpose statement or reading 3 books in your desired field… something you can accomplish in a fairly short period of time if you make it a real priority.  You can always catch up on those nonessential activities later.

For most people, myself included, enjoying a good career is one of the most important goals in life.  But very rarely do people just fall into the career of their dreams.  It takes a combination of proactive thought and action.  While the steps to get there may require a lot of effort, they’re rarely unknowable or shrouded in mystery.  It’s usually just a matter of putting in the time and persisting.  If it takes years, it takes years, but delay won’t get you there any sooner.

It’s common to resist all the work — especially the inner work — required to discover what you really love to do and how on earth you could possibly earn a decent living from it.  Getting past that resistance is part of the process, and the more committed you are, the more willing you’ll be to put in the time.

Commitment is mental and emotional

Commitment is an internal decision, not something that can be forced from outside.  Commitment occurs when your thoughts and emotions are pointing in the same direction.  If you make a mental decision but don’t feel right about it, you’re not committed.  If you make an emotional decision that doesn’t sit well with your intellect, you’re not committed.  Half-brained decisions will usually fizzle within a matter of days.  The only real commitments are those that engage both your mind and emotions.

How to commit

How do you get yourself to commit to pursuing the career of your dreams?

Some people do best by tackling the mental side first.  They’ll spend lots of time researching career possibilities.  For example, a wannabe screenwriter might read a bunch of books on screenwriting.  Another part of the mental side is to make a giant to-do list of the steps ahead of you to demonstrate that the goal is achievable.

Others prefer to start with the emotional side.  This entails figuring out the why and the deeper meaning behind what you want to do.  So you would consider the potential impact of your work and how it would feel to be able to do this kind of work every day, even if you aren’t certain of the exact field of type of work you want to do.

Ultimately, both the mental and emotional sides are important.  You won’t master either of them 100%, but you aren’t really committed until you can see enough of the steps ahead of you to start taking action AND you feel reasonably good about where you’re headed.  When you see the path, and you like what you see on the path, you’ll begin walking the path.  You need your mind and your heart to be shaking hands in agreement about your choice.  Otherwise, you’ll just sabotage yourself.

Either way you go, the strategy of immersion works pretty well for most people.  Keep your intended career development so much in your face that you can’t possibly disregard it.  One of the best ways to do that is to join a club or organization in your desired field that meets at least twice a month.  If you just keep attending the meetings regularly, it will constantly reinforce your goal and educate you at the same time.



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