Career Advancement vs. Personal Fulfillment – Strike a Balance in 2017

2017 is in full swing, and experts are predicting a stellar year for career advancement. According to a report by U.S. News, new policies created by a new president and continued economic growth should bring more job opportunities and lower unemployment rates for the new year. That’s a lot of “new” going around, and it may put you in the mood to set a big goal and take your career to the next level.

That ambition is what you need to work your way into a promotion, ask for a raise, or apply for a job with your dream company, but it’s important to focus on personal fulfillment as well. It’s easy to think about how much money you want to make, what position you would love to fill, or even what business you would build if you were to strike out on your own. Those goals will lead you to heavy workloads and intense competition with equally ambitious professionals, and you don’t want to lose track of what makes the hard work worthwhile.

Get out there and chase a big dream that will lead to impressive career advancement in 2017, but only after you identify the “why” behind the action. What do you want to gain on a personal level when your professional goals are achieved? When your career goals lead to personal fulfillment or some level of heightened happiness, you’re more likely to stick with the goals long term.

While you’re out there chasing the big goal, put these three tips into action to make sure that you’re chasing personal fulfillment just as much as career advancement.

1. Your goals should reflect your personal interests.

It’s easy to look outward when setting professional goals. For instance, you may determine that this is the year you either get a raise or move on to a higher-paying position with a new company because your wife is pregnant and you have another mouth to feed. The motivation behind this goal is financial stress and worry rather than personal fulfillment. The almighty dollar is emphasized without regard to what gets you excited or what will make you feel accomplished.

You may absolutely need to earn more money and paying the bills is important, but you don’t want to do so in a way that sacrifices your happiness and self-esteem. If you dig deeper, perhaps you’ll realize that you don’t want a raise with your current employer. You want to apply for higher-paying jobs with a new company that offers a college tuition reimbursement program, allowing you to seek a higher degree this year. This new goal blends financial motivation and a personal reward.

Most industries have multiple career paths that you can follow. Make sure that you’re on the path that somehow lights you on fire and energizes your soul. It doesn’t matter what your friends are doing or what turn your biggest competitors are taking. Your career must become a personal journey.

2. Give yourself the power to say “no.”

Expand your career goal into a detailed plan of action. When someone asks you to do something that will consume your time, consult with that plan. If this new commitment will move you closer to your goal, then you may consider it advantageous. If it has nothing to do with your goal or will move you in the wrong direction, then you may consider it a waste of time.

By saying no to opportunities that aren’t to your advantage, you free your calendar for activities that will help you hit your goals. You can even do the unthinkable and take some downtime to enjoy your family, catch up with friends, or embrace a hobby.

3. Identify your biggest flaws and pounce on them.

It’s easy to focus on your strengths, but your weaknesses may be what hold you back from career advancement. Get real with yourself, and admit your biggest flaw. You can then take steps to improve in that area, pushing you closer to your professional and personal goals. For instance, if you’re shy and you know that your personality makes it easy for others to overlook you, signing up for a confidence-boosting seminar or challenging yourself to speak out in some way each day could help you leap out of your shell.

Here’s one more tip to savor as you head off to a productive day or an energy-restoring night: give yourself the power to speak up. Know that your opinion is valuable. Don’t hesitate to let someone know if there’s a way to improve a process or if you want to try something different. If there’s something that would make your job easier or more enjoyable, give a spirited pitch to someone who could make it happen for you. There’s a lot of “new” going around this year, so get out there and do something new.