Forge Course Day 3: Find Your 3Cs

This brand-building approach can help you ignite your purpose at work

Illustration: Julia Moburg

This is day three of a five-day course on finding what you’re meant to do. Read our introduction post, day one, and day two.

Today, we’re identifying the skills and tools in your arsenal that you can eventually apply to the job you’re meant to do. You’re laying the foundation for the big questions you’ll answer by the end of the course: What do I want to do? Who do I want to do it for? Why am I the one to do it?

Taking inventory of your professional assets and achievements is like searching for a favorite sweater buried at the bottom of your closet. Once you find it, you dust it off, appreciate how it makes you feel when you wear it, and wonder how you got so caught up in shiny new trends when the things you love have always been right here.

The 3C Self-Discovery is an approach I’ve designed to build brands, but it can just as effectively help you figure out how to activate your purpose at work or shake up your career. Your 3Cs are your company (you), your customer (your client or boss), and your competition (your peers or co-workers).

This exercise is about more than pulling out your résumé and scanning the last few jobs you’ve held — rather, it’s an examination of your entire career, including the skills and expertise that brought you to where you are now and any unexplored opportunities worth pursuing.

Today’s worksheets will provide guidance and structure. When filling them out, be honest with yourself. Don’t write what you think you should do. Explore without expectation. Be open to surprises.

The idea is to see everything in one place so that tomorrow you can revisit your past, widen your lens of perspective, form connections, and spark ideas.

Today’s exercises

Complete these worksheets, and then return to this post for more inspiration and resources.

Get inspired

Reflect to find the patterns

Here’s how Jenna Britton used her unique set of skills to score a storytelling role at Adidas and power her latest pivot to freelance writer and coach at Brave Enough to Be:

“My career often feels all over the place to me, as if it’s all of these random, disparate experiences that don’t really fit together. But looking back, I see how it all fits together. I see how each block builds upon the rest. When I first interviewed for my most recent role at Adidas, I didn’t have a lot of the qualifications on paper… but they realized from the through line of my experience — from public relations and digital marketing to community engagement to editing and copywriting and more — that I could help tell the story of purpose at Adidas because of, not in spite of, my previous experience.

“Right now, it looks like I’m making my biggest shift yet — I’m leaving Adidas and focusing on freelancing as a writer and a coach. While coaching is new to me, it also isn’t. I know how to manage and collaborate with a wide variety of people; I have strong leadership skills; I’m talented at quickly seeing people’s stories and helping them rewrite the narratives of their personal and professional paths in a positive way. Everything I’ve done so far has led me perfectly to where I am right now, even if I couldn’t see it at the time.”

Go deeper

  • Read: Dorie Clark’s article “Take a Step Back to Propel Your Career Forward” in Harvard Business Review, plus Insider Higher Ed’s comprehensive list of career assessment tools. Consider these resources complements to your self-discovery. If you’re looking for a deep dive, professional four-time (and counting) career changer Nicolle Merrill excels at reinvention. She believes our jobs and careers are like a “choose your own adventure” book — full of possibilities, new paths, and unexpected surprises. Her book, Punch Doubt in the Face: How to Upskill, Change Careers, and Beat the Robots, helps you discover, retain, and magnify the skills you need to thrive in your job — whether you want to make your day-to-day bearable or are looking to change careers altogether.
  • Listen: How to Be Awesome at Your Job is a must-listen whether you’re a full-time employee or have your own business. If you’re stressed out about your job, it’s okay to not have it figured out.
  • Learn: Career coach Erin Urban’s podcast episode on how to get unstuck when you’re in a go-nowhere job.

Marketing Exec/Author. I build brands & tell stories. Work in Human Parts, OneZero, Forge, Index & Marker. Hire me: t.ly/bEnd7 Brand & Content eBooks: t.ly/ZP5v

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