Forge Career Course

Forge Course Day 4: Revealing Patterns

Seeing where, when, and how you’ve thrived allows you to define the next step forward

Illustration: Julia Moburg

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

Today, we’re transforming mess into magic. Humans crave patterns — our brains derive meaning from the events that happen in our lives to avoid chaos and confusion. We lean on patterns for the choices we make, whether or not we’re conscious of it. And at this point, after your deep introspection, you should be starting to see some patterns emerge.

We have a tendency to operate in tunnel vision, thinking only of the last job or project without ever stepping back to assess our journey more holistically. The 3C approach forces you to see the big picture and uncover trends. More importantly, it surfaces opportunities.

In your day three exercises, you likely noticed that throughout your career, you’ve been drawn to certain tasks more than others. You saw where, when, and how you’ve thrived and why. You recognized the characteristics and actions of people who light you up and the “professional vampires” who are determined to drain you. And you determined the moments when you weren’t living your values and remembered how that made you feel.

In your most ideal setting, you’d be working at your highest altitude. This encompasses a trifecta of purposeful workplace magic:

  1. Your work embodies and is an expression of your values.
  2. You exercise your skills, talents, and abilities.
  3. You have a supportive work environment, co-workers, and colleagues that help you thrive.

In today’s exercise, you’ll find the patterns that will help you take your first steps toward that magic altitude. Because let’s be realistic: We have to crawl before we walk, walk before we run, and run before we fly to heights of 40,000 feet.

Today’s exercise

Get Inspired

Take a joy inventory

Years back, when management and program analyst Lauren Rayburn was dissatisfied with her job, one thing she did was take a joy inventory. “I busied myself with volunteer work,” she says. “I wanted to serve generously by filling in the operational gaps in small, local organizations. I bookkept for my partner as he started a farm business. I did pro bono grant writing for several local nonprofits. I consulted as a project manager, strategic thought partner, researcher, and facilitator. As I engaged in each activity, I asked myself: What part of this brings a smile to my face? What keeps me coming back? In doing this kind of inventory, I saw a clear overlap with the joys from my day job and those in my volunteer work. These were the transferable skills that I needed to focus on in my career pivot.”

Go deeper

  • Read: My comprehensive tutorial for creating and amplifying your personal brand, “How to Build a Personal Brand for People Who Hate Personal Brands.” This will help you shape peoples’ perceptions of you and use that information to rewrite the story you want to tell of your journey forward. If you want to go deeper on today’s exercises or are more visually inclined, I recommend Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.
  • Listen: Have you ever worked in a job where you felt like you didn’t fit? If you’re struggling to identify your genius, tune in to Lisa Lewis Miller’s Career Clarity podcast, episode 62, “Executing From Your Zone of Genius.” If you’ve experienced an awakening today and feel stuck and hopeless in the reality of your daily grind, Jenna Viviano Dunay’s podcast, Your Career Story, episode 86, “How to Stay Motivated When You Hate Your Job,” will give you a boost of career confidence.
  • Learn: The Myers-Briggs Strong Interest Inventory is a personality assessment backed by 80 years of research comparing how people of similar interests are employed. The results give insight into how you could transform your calling into a viable career — whether you’re reinventing yourself at your nine-to-five or embarking on a whole new path (Note: This is a paid product, but there are free options online.)

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

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