Finding the Key to Being Successful and Fulfilled

Career is often a place in life where we can go on autopilot, following a set path towards the promise of success and stability. Go to a good school, declare a major, and get good grades. Then look for a stable job, work hard to get good performance reviews, and hope for promotion. Show up on time, invest in a retirement fund, and take your allotted weeks of vacation. If you went into business for yourself, follow tried and true advice on how to build and grow your business.

Add a mortgage, family, and other responsibilities into the mix and it can seem dangerous to tinker with your career. Why jeopardize success and stability? You might imagine you’ll waste all the time you’ve invested, all the credibility and experienced you’ve gained on this path (which isn’t true, by the way!).

But what starts out looking like success and stability can over time begin to feel empty, unfulfilling, and boring. It turns out “success” is more than just money in the bank. What about enjoying what you do all day? What about being creatively and intellectually challenged? What about making a contribution you find meaningful? Some people start thinking mid-way through their career, “Is this really what I want? Is this all there is for me?”

I find that to stay passionately engaged in my work, I have to make adjustments every so often and freshen things up so I still enjoy my work. It doesn’t have to be a radical change. Sometimes just a small adjustment makes all the difference.

When you know it’s time to freshen up your career, when you know you’re ready to do something new, do you know how to figure out what you want next?

It’s easy—normal even—to get paralyzed by not knowing what you want to do next.

And that’s where most people stop.

In fact, it’s one of the top reasons that I see people enduring jobs that no longer fulfill them—they can’t figure out what they’d rather be doing!

(You may also get paralyzed by not knowing how to find something better or believing it’s possible without risking financial stability—check out this post for more helpful tips.)

So how do you get a clear picture of what you want next in your career? How can you figure out if it’s a small adjustment in your current job or time for something really new?

After spending years being stuck and unhappy in my own career, I discovered getting clear can be as easy and fun as strolling down the beach, picking up shells and rocks that catch your eye. “Ooo—I like that one! And this one!”  Once I knew what I most loved doing, I found it was much easier than I’d imagined to have fulfillment and still be successful.

I created the Passion Discovery Worksheet—a paper version of a great beach walk—that helps you notice all the details of what you love doing. I ask you questions from every angle so you can find all the small clues that reveal the big picture of what you want to do next.

You can download a free Passion Discovery Worksheet here and begin now discovering more about yourself and what fuels your career passion.

Two things to remember as you fill in your Passion Discovery Worksheet:

1.  Fill in the details that you know on the first pass and then carry it around with you. Keep adding as you think of things!

2.  Don’t limit yourself by what you think is possible! Don’t hold yourself back – give yourself permission to add in what you secretly dream about doing. You’ll be surprised by how you can work some of your wilder dreams into your life.

Now, go grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine and curl up with your Passion Discovery Worksheet.

Coming up with my own list of passion elements was the first key step in crafting my ideal career, and it’s the first thing I do now every time I consider pursuing a new aspect of my career or making any sort of change in life. It’s fun and sometimes scary at the same time (“Wow, how will I actually achieve this??”).

But eventually? You’ll be using those passion elements to identify and achieve your next career step.

About Jane: Jane Cavanaugh is an internationally acclaimed business leadership and career coach who has helped more than 6,000 professionals develop their career and leadership skills. Jane is creator of The Passionate Professional: How to Make Your Ordinary Career Extraordinary, a guided career transition program, and a co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life. Contact or visit Jane at

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