I write a lot…probably too much…about “loving your job” and “following your passion.”
I do this for one relatively simple reason. For what seems like the better half of the past 50 years of my life, people…working professionals as well as young soon-to-be professionals (aka: “students”)…have been asking me for some sort of definition of “success.”
I have heard any number of responses from others over the years, ranging from “you’re successful if you’re making a lot of money” to “success is when you have a big office in a big company.”
There’s probably some merit in each of these definitions, and I certainly have never encouraged my students at Curry College, where, until recently, I oversaw the Public Relations Concentration in our Communication Department, to actively seek out poverty and a closet-sized office.
But success is sooo much more than posh trappings of office and bushels of money being dumped in your lap each payday.
Throughout my own professional career, both as a PR practitioner and as a PR professor, I have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with people from all levels of the working world. Yes, a few of them are, as I term it, “gazillionaires.” Others are living paycheck-to-paycheck. And in each scenario, I have met someone who goes about every single day with a smile on his face because he is doing exactly what he wants to be doing.
Although the Rolling Stones declared quite successfully that “I can’t get no satisfaction,” I respectfully disagree.
You can, but doing so requires that you do a really thorough “Who am I? What do I want out of life?” self-analysis.
Not to get slightly morbid here, but a saying I heard one time a loooong time ago sticks with me: “What do you want your obituary to say about you?”
Short-ish, and to the point. If someone is going to recap your life and your contributions to others’ lives, what do you want him or her to say? Then ask yourself, “How am I going to accomplish that?”
It doesn’t matter where you are in your professional/personal existence…just starting out, mid-way and building momentum, or in the final stages…you can start or add to the final description.
Don’t try to do it alone, though. You need input from others with whom you interact. It’s called “networking,” and my students have heard me preaching this sermon just about every day in every class.
Why ask others? Because you’re too close to the subject…you can’t see the forest because all the trees are crowded all around you. And you’re prejudiced…after all, it’s you you’re talking about…and you’ve known yourself your entire life!
But most important, ask yourself, “What is it that, when I do it, I spend the next three days grinning like an idiot because the simple act of doing it made me feel so good?”
Odds are, whatever that “it” was, it’s something you love doing…it’s something you do well…it’s something you’re passionate about.
Then you do what someone I admire immensely…my step-brother Jimmy Towson…did. You sit down with those who are most important to you, you have a very serious talk, and you make the changes necessary for you to accomplish your goal.
The end result? You will have answered the question: “What IS satisfaction?”