How are you going to spend the next 40 years of work?

If you’re in your twenties, this is a very real question. Actually, the number of years doesn’t really matter so much, its what you do with your years that matters.

Within all of us there’s a measure of drive to do something, a desire to make a difference in some area of life. It’s different for all of us, but we all have it.

Finding that thing and actually doing it is the factor that will leave us either fulfilled or not at the end of our 40 years of work.

When considering what you should do as a career, you should really be asking yourself who you are at the core. Your life and career are inseparable. The way I like to look at it is that your career is part of your life, it’s one of the roles that you play in life, just like being a spouse, parent or little league coach.

So, to determine what you should do with your 40 years of work requires you to sit back, dig deep and consider who you are and what it is that your being wants to accomplish that will ultimately fulfill you.

Here’s some ways to get you thinking:

  1. Think back on your life at the things that you’ve often striven to do or accomplish. Why did you want to do those things? Try to find a theme out of the different memories. It may be helping underprivileged people, being a listening ear, being the person who will always fix the thing that’s broken or the one who loves being responsible for others.
  2. Another important thing to do is to think back to when you were between 6 or 10 years old, and who your role models were. They can also be fictional characters. The point is to look at the kinds of people they are and how you have fashioned yourself after them. Write down three role models and some adjectives that describe each one. You’ll notice that this is very close to who you are or who you wish to become and, if you live out a similar life as your role models, it will fulfill you.

When deciding how to spend your 40 years of work, put “making a lot of money” aside. You may make a lot of money and be very successful, but if what you do doesn’t fulfill you then you will be miserable – this is a tried and tested experience. You need to find out what will fulfill you and then go do that thing. That’s why you need to find out who you are at the core and what you deeply desire to accomplish.

3. While you’re looking back at memories of your life, you may notice that you have already touched this sense of purpose within you multiple times. You’ve felt that feeling of fulfillment before. Think about your most fulfilling moments. What were you doing? When you find then theme(s) of things that fulfill you in your life, you’ll know what direction to head in for the next 40 years of work.

4. One last point. Fulfillment comes from contributing to someone else or something. I believe this is the way we were designed. Check with your experience how you feel when you contribute to something larger than yourself. This doesn’t mean that the occupations that don’t involve any human interaction don’t have any contributing factors. It all depends on your perspective and vision of what you’re doing it for.

If you are able to identify what fulfills you by knowing who you really are, then you can begin to align your career with that and spend your life doing the things that fulfill you.

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