Recently, I was traveling and toured an archaeological site. The thing I was struck by most was how our tour guide (an archaeologist herself) was so utterly thrilled during the tour, even more than the visitors were.
She would constantly say things like, “Wait for this. This next area is going to WOW you” and “How cool is this?!” She was speaking fast and loud about a topic she couldn’t get enough of; her energy was palpable.
My friends on the tour noticed the same thing I did. One friend asked me “Ever want to be an archaeologist?” I replied, “No, but I love how much she does.” I also thought to myself, “No, but I know exactly what I do want to be doing.”
Quickly, I realized, her and I weren’t that different. We are both a part of the 15% of engaged employees in the world. Gallup defines engaged as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” On the other hand, Gallup defines disengaged by an employee who is “checked out,” putting in time but not energy or passion to their work.
I realized how small the number of engaged employees is in the world today. I realized how truly rare it is to see and find someone who genuinely loves their job. I realized how special it is to be one of those people.
So, I’m here to tell you how you can be a part of this group and what you can start to think about in order to figure out a career path that will excite you as much as this archaeologist.
1) Be open
Be open to the many opportunities at your fingertips. Be open to believing in the possibility of finding an exciting career path. Step outside of yourself for a moment and think about this archaeologist and her curiosity, her energy, her every day zeal for her work. Imagine what that could look and feel like if you were just as energetic and excited every day.
2) Be observant
Observe your tendencies, interests and intuition. Try to tap into your intuition by “receiving the world’s signals” — here’s a few ways to think about it:
- What experiences, places, people, or challenges speak to you and why?
- What topics intrigue you?
- Who asks you for help?
- What do you love doing?
- What types of things do you choose to do without thinking about it, just doing it by instinct?
- Why do you do those things? What does it mean?
- Is there something you could talk so much about you’d bore other people?
- Was there ever a book you loved? Was there a hidden message, theme or environment depicted in the book that stood out to you?
- Does this at all represent your view of the world and how you’d like to contribute towards it?
- Is there something you think you understand better than other people?
- What inspires and excites you?
- When do you have realizations about the world? (As a career coach, we constantly observe the world. I energetically observed this tour guide and her excitement in order to relay it back to the world.)
- What message do you feel you need to share with the world?
3) Dive In
How can you start to translate the above reflections into potential real-world opportunities? How can you get some brief introduction to these opportunities so you can learn more about them? Maybe even “try them out”? Be creative and focus on solely learning before you apply to roles and pursue any certain path.
4) Be persistent
Stay the course despite outside influences and challenges. Know where you want to go and stick with your plan until you get there. Celebrate small wins and continue trying.
5) Be flexible
As you learn about roles or industries you like or don’t like, iterate.
6) Be patient
Remember that this process may take some time. But if you believe, you listen to yourself, and you’re persistent, you may just find yourself forging a path you’re curious about and engaged in every day.
My call to action for you:
- College students, remember, you can be an archaeologist, too.
- To the 85% of disengaged or actively disengaged employees, see steps above.
- To the 15%, let’s start a movement together to bring the 85% to the other side.
I’ve been told I speak “fast and loud” when it comes to careers. That’s exactly what my tour guide was doing. Not only that, there have been moments when I was diving in to do innovative work in the career space, and I noticed my heart actually was beating fast — a sign one might call love. I’m here to tell you that it is possible to not only like your job and your path but maybe even to love it.
When I went up to the archaeologist after we finished the tour, I told her about the 15%. She energetically told me that she has been an archaeologist since she was 6 years old. Her uncle had handed her a book on dinosaurs and she never looked back. She said her parents thought she was crazy, but she stayed the course. She said, like any matter of the heart, “it’s worth the chase.”