Do you remember writing short essays in middle school answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

In fond reflection, I remember writing about being happy regardless of what I was doing. I’m envious of how comfortable I was writing my truth back then. I would surmise that I was wiser too.

Because somewhere along the way, I lost that vision and my voice. Whether it was planning, striving, aiming, and going after something to achieve, obtain or maximize, there was always the next thing. Coupled with highs and lows from each career undertaking and exhaustion that came from moving fast, I would find myself unhappy about 18 months into each job or project.

Which is why, when I was talking to a friend the other day, I grasped I’m far from alone. She shared, “I don’t know what’s missing? I love my home, my job, where I live, and everyone is healthy and doing well. Yet, I’m not working toward anything.” I retorted, “You should be ecstatic! That’s a good thing. If you need a goal, make it to maintain how you feel!” Easier said than done. Many of us are either wired or trained never to be satisfied.

Contentment and being happy with the status quo are good things.

Enjoy it while you can. If you’re happy and you’re one of those individuals who love to have a plan, make it easy: Wake up each morning with that mindset. Don’t lose that feeling. If you need to have a goal, make it a care or retention plan to keep yourself happy.

Your career wants and needs will continue to change. As someone with a contradictory mix of an entrepreneurial spirit and a risk-averse personality, I get it. I’ve held more than fifteen corporate jobs in my twenty-five-year career. My most memorable moments were starting up, figuring out how to get from point A to point B, and closing out.

The best time to plan and vision is when you are content.

We can expect our feelings about what we value and like about our jobs to change. When we are exposed to new opportunities and experiences, our priorities shift. What was once most important to you may be replaced by something that you deem more meaningful in the present moment. To gain clarity on your career values, try these five steps. They work best when you feel the itch to strategize and are looking for ideas, feeling bored, fed up, or frustrated at work. Remember, how you measure success may be as simple as being happy. You determine what matters most to you. Don’t get mixed up with what others think and expect from you.

Next steps

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