Are you chasing a promotion or a purpose?


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Are you among the overwhelmingly large group of people who dislike or actually hate their jobs? The numbers are staggering; something like 80 percent. Unbelievable, especially when we spend so many of our waking hours at work.

Why is that number so alarmingly high? Or are you one of those who don’t hate your job, you just don’t like it very much either? Or maybe you love it, but you have a nagging feeling that there is more to your career than what you are doing now. 

I remember going to work and I liked my job — enough. I moved up the corporate ladder, got along with co-workers and upper-level management. I had many firsts and wins. But even with those accomplishments, there were some seasons I did not get out of bed excited about the day or week ahead. I wasn’t looking forward to the possibilities of the day or considering the impact of me just going through the motions.

Those bad feelings get dragged into companies every day. They are embodied in its employees. The sum of those feelings can be wrapped up into three emotions: ambivalence, discontentment and disappointment.

Ambivalence

Having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

Ambivalence breeds contempt, causing employees to not care — to merely show up, do the job and collect a check. Somewhere between the excitement of getting the job offer and now, ambivalence crept in. The drive and passion once had for the field or company are gone. Instead, there are nagging feelings like, “They don’t pay me enough to deal with this” or “It won’t make a difference anyway, so why try.”

Discontentment

Lack of contentment; dissatisfaction with one's circumstances.

Discontentment comes in when one feels the need to chase the next level, get another certification, training or degree, but when you arrive there, you realize the discontentment is still there. There’s a momentary reprieve of the thirst for more or what's next. But the nagging feeling of “Something is missing, there has to be more to life than this," still exists.

Disappointment

Sadness or displeasure caused by the not fulfilling one's hopes or expectations.

While discontentment and disappointment may look and feel the same, they are different. You can be discontented while you have the title and salary you want. But you are disappointed when start to think, “I’ll never get ahead here,” or “My company does not value women leaders,” or “My company does not appreciate me.”

When any of these three emotions arise and are not appropriately addressed within ourselves and by the organization, one of two things happen:

  1. You quit on the job, while you are stilling working.
  2. You leave the job prematurely.

At these times, ask yourself, “Are you chasing promotion or purpose?” Ambivalence, discontentment and disappointment arrive when we are not in alignment with our purpose, or “the thing we were created to do.”  I would venture to say with every high of career success, it is purpose we are really after.

Ambivalence, discontentment and disappointment creep in slowly. Soon, you are dragging any of those three emotions into the office each day.

If you aren’t in love with your overall career or your current role, ask yourself:

  • Am I doing what matters most to me?
  • Am I doing what feeds my soul?
  • Am I creating the legacy I want?
  • Does this bring me joy?

If not, what will you do next? Chase the next promotion to lead you to the same outcome? Or chase your purpose that will give you a, “Yes” to those four questions?

Chasing promotions will leave you temporarily fulfilled, but always chasing the next high of success. Pursuing purpose will cause you to work even harder on your worst days, because you know it's what you have been called to do. Pursuing purpose gets you up in the morning with a feeling of eagerness and anticipation. Pursuing purpose is the fuel that ignites passion in yourself and others.

I challenge you to ask yourself, “What am I chasing?” I hope your answer is purpose and not just the next promotion.

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Blog Author Bio

Melissa J. Nixon is founder of the Courageous Life Academy, a coaching and consulting firm. She formerly served as director of organizational development and learning at Delhaize.

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