Have you ever left for your destination…any destination and wondered how you got there?
You blinked and it felt like you had arrived. It could’ve been your trip home after work, a road trip to a vacation spot, or a simple walk from one room in your home to another.
The interesting thing is that you don’t even remember how you got there. We’ve all heard the saying “enjoy the journey, not just the destination,” but, it’s easy to forget on our career journey.
Here are 5 things that’ll help you appreciate the journey as you drive towards your ultimate career destination.
In my post “One Essential Thing That Can Change Your Life,” I shared the importance of creating a vision for your life.
Your overall vision can help in all areas of your life from relationships, health, finances, spirituality, and careers.
Once you’ve created a vision, it can help you understand your “why” and clarify the best career paths for you to make the most impact and fulfill your dreams.
You may have a clear career destination or may be searching for your path.
No matter which stage you’re in, you can become stressed or anxious if you only focus on reaching the end goal.
You can miss all of the fun and excitement that comes from taking the “road trip” in the first place.
1. Look for Signs
First, look for signs along your destination. Many times in our lives and careers, we’re given clues that signal if we’re on the right track.
Sometimes we listen to those signals and ignore them at other times.
It may be a gut feeling telling you that this is not the right fit when you first start a new role. It could be a once fulfilling career path that’s no longer in alignment with your long-term vision, purpose and values.
If you choose to ignore the signs, you could end up missing a crucial turn or eventually reaching your long-term destination only to regret the process and toll that it has taken on you or your family due to stress and burnout.
You could remain on a certain path because others say that it’s the only way to success and fulfillment.
You could be on the right path, but may be tempted to give up too soon because you may be blazing a trail down a path that’s not well lit and will need extra light to see more clearly.
Even though you still may have a limited view into the distance, you can look for the clues such as new opportunities that are appearing for you in your career or connections with individuals who affirm that you’re on the right path.
On a road trip, we look for landmarks, highway signs, or mile markers to ensure that we’re on the right track. These are all signals that you’re still heading towards your preferred destination.
Pay attention to the signs and clues in your career journey. They can guide you along the way.
2. Take an Alternate Route
When we set out on a road trip, our GPS usually gives us multiple routes.
It calculates the amount of time that it’ll take for each route and can even exclude toll roads or highways.
In our careers (the area where many of us spend over one third of our lives), there isn’t a GPS to automatically calculate the best path.
Yes, there are personality tests, career assessments, and other great tools available to give you insights.
You still have to make a decision on a potential path before you know if it’s the best route for you.
You may also have to take an alternate “career” route to reach your ultimate destination.
An alternate route may involve transitioning into a completely different role to gain additional experience, taking a step back in your career to deepen your knowledge or building new skills in an area that will support your future growth.
This is a normal part of the process. Think about a time where you may have changed roles or taken on a challenging project. You learned new skills, built new relationships, and discovered more “clues” about your career during these stages.
You can also look at people that you know who have advanced in their careers and found fulfillment in their work.
Many of them have worked in a variety of roles and in areas that may be unrelated on the surface. But, they may have a skillset that helped them succeed in every role and led them to a better route on their career journey.
3. Enjoy the Scenery
As you are driving towards your destination, are you so focused on getting there that you don’t appreciate the scenery?
Think about your last road trip. Did you miss out on the beauty that surrounded you as you were driving to a mountain destination? If you were traveling over a scenic bridge, did you look out over the water? Did you marvel at the beauty of a local monument visible from the road that you were traveling?
It’s easy to focus on our destination at the expense of our present journey. When we’re on the path to fulfilling our purpose or career goal, we may miss the scenery around us.
For example, if you’re building a business, you may be so focused on the ultimate goal that you don’t appreciate the people that you’re aiming to serve or the lessons that you’re learning along the way.
Progress may be slower or faster than expected, which may add to your stress levels or you may be obsessed with having everything perfectly planned before you take the next steps.
Enjoying the scenery and the process of getting to your destination makes the trip more memorable and fun.
4. Stop for a Rest Break
Prior to having our daughter, my husband and I would drive non-stop if we were taking a road trip. We didn’t stop for a break unless we had to stop out of sheer necessity.
We would be completely exhausted by the time we arrived.
After having our daughter, we have to stop at least once during a 4 hour trip. We really don’t have much of a choice anymore.
This has worked well because it has forced us to slow down, take a stretch and refuel our car and our bodies before hitting the road again. Once we’re back in the car, we’re re-energized and ready to continue our trip.
In our careers, we may have to stop for a break.
That break could mean a simple vacation or a staycation that allows us to take care of other matters that can give us energy and rejuvenate our spirits on our journey.
It could also involve a more drastic break depending on the circumstances.
Someone who has been laid off, may have to take a break before they can begin to think about a destination.
A person who desires to make a career change, may have to reflect and explore questions that they may have never considered before.
Taking a break on your career journey is not a bad thing. It may be the very activity that you need to refuel and propel you further faster.
5. Connect with People
People make the destination even better. My husband and I used to travel to our annual rivalry college football game with a group of friends.
We still remember the experience and had to travel over 9 hours during the “away” game years.
We would play travel games, try to predict the win, or simply catch up during the road trip. Sometimes, a few people would fall asleep or everyone would just listen quietly to the music.
We knew our destination and focused on enjoying the ride.
Those games would not have been the same if we would have traveled to the destination without anyone or tried to determine who we knew once we arrived at the game.
Our career journeys are the same.
We can become so focused on our ultimate career destinations, that we aren’t fully present with the people that make the journey worthwhile – our family, friends, clients, colleagues and communities.
We may not fully value the people that we meet along the way and nurture those relationships.
We may miss out on important personal or professional relationships by only focusing on reaching our destination.
We tell ourselves that reaching our destination will help us enjoy people more and spend time with loved ones in the future, but even this very moment cannot be re-lived.
Being present with our loved ones and making time to build meaningful relationships throughout our journey will help us avoid a lonely trip and a lonely stay once we reach our destination.
The Final Stretch
I believe there is some sacrifice that comes from creating a career and life that you want to live on your terms.
Sometimes we want to see things happen so fast when building a career or a business, that we accelerate too quickly.
Our speeding ticket is the burnout and stress that comes from going too fast and exceeding our limits.
It’s great to progress and advance in our careers, but it’s important to take care of ourselves, find a good pace and learn what we need to be successful at each stage.
If you follow these small but important things on your career journey, you can enjoy the destination and the process it took to get there without sacrificing everything along the way.
What are some additional tips for enjoying our career journey? Comment below.
If you found this article helpful, please share with other ambitious women who would like encouragement on their career journey.