Why You Should Align Your Career With Your Purpose plus Strategies To Get Started
All photos captured by Urban Love Tree Photography.
Honestly, career talk and corporate settings can be quite sterile, masculine, and even hostile towards women, especially women of color. I created Cubicles to Cocktails because I believe women of color deserve spaces where we can have authentic conversations about our unique experience, invest in our careers and lives, and indulge in our womanhood.
The debut Cubicles to Cocktails soirée was hosted on February 1, 2018, where about 30 women of color gathered for a fireside chat in Rice Village District of Houston, Texas at ModChic Couture Boutique. We gathered to discuss why it is important for us women to align our careers with our purpose. I wanted to tackle this topic because I personally believe the more our lives are in alignment with our purpose, the more we will be able to truly thrive. Since we spend 1/3rd of our lives working, I think it is important for our alignment to include our careers too!
I invited three successful women of color who I believe are thriving in both their careers + lives to join me as my VIPs for the evening. Each of the business women had her own reason why women should align her career with her purpose that resonated strongly with me:
“It is important to find clarity in your purpose so that you are not constantly experiencing resistance in dead-end jobs.”
—Joy Hutton, Owner and Principal Consultant of Joy of Consulting and Co-Host of the Business Breakfast Talk Show airing on Synergy Radio
“God will bless you [when you walk] in your purpose. If you’re not certain about who you are. . . how can you give your best? Work is harder when you are not in [alignment] with your purpose. The key is knowing the why! If you know the “why?” it is so much easier to do whatever you do. You will live a healthy life, your best life.”
—Ebele Iloanya, Owner and Chief Designer of ModChic Couture
“When your purpose is aligned with your career you become a master at what you do. . . Everyone benefits when you’re aligned with your purpose because you are fueled by your work not drained by it.”
—Eliza Boquin,MA, LMFT, Owner and Relationship & Sex Therapist at The Relationship and Sexual Wellness Center and Co-Founder of Melanin and Mental Health
We talked about what women may feel when our careers are not aligned with our purpose. The discussion transcended the usual culprit: the manifestations of stress.
Resistance towards and from your environment and others around you.
When your career is not aligned with your purpose, you may experience yourself in a constant state of rebellion. You may be more resistant to change and even authority. You also may feel resistance from your co-workers or boss towards accepting you at the table or acknowledging your contributions. Joy who was previously an operation and business manager before venturing out to open her own consulting firm explained how this was certainly the case for her.
Fear of the unknown may cause you to ignore pursuing your purpose with intention and fervor.
During our fireside chat, Ebele discussed how she always had a passion for fashion and knew her purpose was to create beauty and confidence in women. However, growing up in a Nigerian family, her parents pushed her to pursue a career that is more traditionally successful: lawyer, doctor, etc. For several years, Ebele dabbled in fashion before deciding to fully commit to her purpose. After juggling her full-time corporate job with owning her own successful lifestyle boutique housed in the prestigious Rice Village District, Ebele told us that she no longer could live in fear and decided to leave her corporate job to commit to growing her fashion house full time!
Guilt from thinking of even doing something for yourself.
Like fear, guilt is another feeling that you may experience when your career and purpose is not in alignment. As women, we often make personal sacrifices for the benefit of others: our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends, and even our bosses. Eliza reminded us that we should act with urgency to do more for ourselves and to begin building a life that will fill us up. When you are living a full life, your life is going to be a blessing to others in return.
We did not stop our fireside chat at "Why?" We also discussed "How?" we can align our careers with our purpose. The following are strategies and tools that we can use to help uncover our purpose as well as begin making moves to align our careers with that purpose:
Leverage your relationships.
For instance, use your mentor and tribe to really dive deep into where your skills intersect your interests and passions. But also take the time to make and nourish new relationships that can take you plus your career to the next level. There is a difference between a mentor and sponsor, and every woman should have both! Whereas a mentor is more of an informal career counselor, a sponsor can give you career advice but they also have the power and influence to advance your career.
Learn why women should have both mentors and sponsors, and gain tips on earning a sponsor here in Fast Company.
Set aside time for introspection.
Have you ever realized that something you thought you wanted badly for your life was actually what someone else, not you, wanted for your life? I definitely have had several moments like that. This is one of the reasons why introspection is key— to clearly define happiness on your own term and make conscious decisions about your life.
Learn several ways that you can use introspection to be your own career coach here in Fast Company.
Keep a vision journal.
Keeping a vision journal is one of my favorite journaling exercises. Vision journaling can help you to clarify your vision for your brand, career, life and more. To vision journal, simply ask yourself “What does your best life look like?” and write down the details about all aspects of your life from your habits, scenes around you, feelings, career, health, family, etc.
Get started with your vision journal by downloading my my vision journaling prompts here.
Make a plan. Take the leap.
It is important to plan for your future, whether that be an industry change, seeking a promotion, or planning to quit your job to become a full-time entrepreneur. But it is equally as important to not get caught up in perfecting a plan. You literally will not get anywhere without taking one step at a time and being nimble.
Here is a great list of career planning resource articles curated here by The Muse.
Be authentic. Bring your A-game.
As women of color, we battle with racism, colorism, and just plain ignorance—seriously, why is natural hair in the workplace still an issue?! If you are bringing your A-game to the office or your business, there is not much that anyone can say against you that will hold any true power. My words of wisdom, just be true to yourself and bring your best work. My favorite entrepreneur Myleik Teele says, "You're not working for the person you report to. You're working on YOUR reputation, YOUR skills, YOUR connections, etc. Stop giving a little to your "boss" because you're only cheating YOURSELF."
Learn how hiding your authentic self can actually damage your career here in Essence.