Written by: Kyle Gonzalez, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Finding your path in the workforce can be scary. Navigating different jobs, balancing priorities, and figuring out how you can make a difference in society, takes a toll on you mentally and physically. Even if you do find a job, finding one that truly motivates you each day can be very difficult. According to a 2018 survey by Gallup, 66% of employees worldwide are either not engaged or are actively disengaged in their job. It’s clear that business leaders need to recognize this gap in engagement if they want to build successful companies but what about the other side of the coin? People can take matters into their own hands by learning how to navigate the workforce and take control of their life, so they can ultimately create their own path. With these six keys, I provide a guide to help you navigate any industry so you can pursue your dreams, make an impact in the world, and do what you love each and every day.
Start With Why
The first key is one of the most important building blocks in creating your path and setting yourself up for success, and that pillar is to always start with why. So the question is, what is your why? What are your passions? What is your purpose? What lights your fire and gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night? Why do you do what you do each day? Your why is your moral compass, something you can always come back to to guide you, inspire you and lead you to the right decision or in the right direction. This can be crucial when making tough career choices and navigating different jobs. It also keeps you honest and helps you move towards your goals with intent. It keeps you laser focused and locked in so you can wake up with a purpose every single day. You should always be working towards doing what you love, and loving what you do. And if you aren’t, then YOU have the power to make changes, try new things, and explore. Come up with your own personal why and write it down. It might not be perfect but having a starting point is better than nothing. Your why can change and evolve over time but without this compass, you’ll be aimlessly exploring without direction.
Check out Start With Why or Find Your Why by Simon Sinek if you want to learn more on discovering your why and the impact it can have.
Build Your Foundation
The second key is building your foundation. Having a baseline knowledge and knowing the ins and outs of your industry is a MUST. You have to build your resume and your credentials so that people take you seriously enough to give you a seat at the table. Education, plus experience, is the best teacher. So take what you want/need from different experiences and learning opportunities and apply it at your job or in your life. This is important because the more you learn and experience, the broader the lens of options gets and with those options you can start to narrow your focus down which helps you in choosing what’s right for you.
Varying your experiences helps shape your journey and can give you different perspectives that you can take with you throughout your career. So immerse yourself in knowledge whenever you can whether it be degrees, certifications, jobs, internships, seminars, or conferences and then go apply it. This will help you boost your experience, your knowledge, and your network which gives you the foundation you need to branch in any direction that suits you. You can’t build a strong career without a healthy foundation, so make sure you set yourself up for success early.
Be a Generalist then a Specialist
The third key for creating your path is to be a generalist then a specialist. This reinforces the last key of building your foundation but adds the dimension of honing your craft once you’ve established a varied and healthy knowledge base. By building a breadth of knowledge and experience first, you become better equipped to handle a wide variety of problems in several domains. Going through this period of sampling helps you start to figure out what really matters. Once you find what matters to you, you should take pride in becoming an expert in this domain. Stay educated and up to date with the latest research and information regarding your field. Becoming an expert involves not only knowing what TO DO but more importantly what NOT to do. Assume you know nothing and keep a growth mindset in learning situations.
Seek constructive feedback so that you can continuously grow. You can’t expect to get better at what you do if you don’t put the time, energy, and effort into it. Try writing down what your speciality or specialities are (or what you want them to be). Then figure out all the things you’d need to know and do to be successful. Success doesn’t come easy, if it was easy everyone would be successful so take pride in your craft and never stop learning. Check out Range by David Epstein for more tips on why generalists triumph in a specialized world.
Leverage Your Network
The fourth key is often overlooked but can be vital to creating your path, this key is leveraging your network. This seems simple but utilizing your network and your support system can unlock crucial opportunities and help expose you to other connected individuals. It’s not always about just what you know or who you know, it's a combination of both and how you utilize each. People can’t help you if they don’t know you need or want help. So find a mentor who you can ask questions and who can help you build your network. Mentors can help you see different perspectives and opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise found on your own. Everyone has a phone or social media these days so proactively reach out to and keep in touch with peers, teachers, co-workers, bosses, and other meaningful connections or people you admire. You never know who might help you reach the next level of your career.
Follow Your Passion
The fifth key in creating your path is to follow your passion. This can sound cliche but pursuing areas that spark your interest is vital to a healthy, happy, and sustained career. We talked about finding your why and building your foundation but this is about the continuous pursuit of what brings you joy and fulfillment. When following your passion you have to be curious and courageous. Don’t be afraid to fail, explore, and ask questions. Failure is the way forward. The path won’t always be clear but passion gives you the unrelenting energy to keep pushing forward so you can make an impact no matter what is thrown your way. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. So seek out challenges and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Write down the things you are passionate about and why then list ways you can incorporate
those things into your life and career. Also remember that money doesn’t always equate to happiness, so follow your passion, stay hungry and always be curious.
Work Hard and Stay Disciplined
Lastly, we have the sixth key that is a non-negotiable pillar to success in creating your path. That is working hard and staying disciplined. This includes things like strategic planning, building routines, challenging yourself daily, and developing self-control. Not every job or work experience will be perfect so you must show grit and endurance in the face of ups and downs. There is no substitute for hard work and discipline, so show up each day with a purpose and ready to work. Showing up is a skill, and this skill must be trained day after day until it becomes a habit. We are all products of our habits, about 40% of daily actions are not conscious actions but habits we have formed over time so make sure you build the right ones.
No matter what you are working towards in your career, make sure you set yourself up for success by thinking about the proper habits, potential obstacles, plan for action, and desired goals. It is also critical to create an environment that is conducive to your success. It doesn’t take skill to work hard, so be the hardest worker in the room and make an effort to get at least 1% better everyday. Try writing down your short, medium, and long term personal and professional goals then make a detailed plan to achieve them. Be sure to challenge yourself mentally and physically with these goals and have someone help keep you accountable. Put these goals somewhere visible so you can see them everyday for motivation. In a world filled with distractions, it’s imperative that you find your focus point. Once you find it, work at it and stay disciplined. Hard work and discipline are the bridge between goals and accomplishment.
Now that you have the 6 keys to navigating any industry it’s time for you to go out and create your path so you can enjoy the work you do and make an impact. The future belongs to those who create it!
Kyle Gonzalez, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kyle Gonzalez is a highly educated and experienced integrative health and wellness professional. Following a successful career as a Division I basketball player, Kyle earned multiple certifications within the performance, health, and wellness fields before getting into coaching. After obtaining his Masters in Kinesiology, he gained experience across several different domains including teaching at the graduate level, personal training, developing performance coaches, and serving as the director at several prominent gyms. Throughout his career, he's gotten the opportunity to work with and learn from clients ranging from professional athletes to high level executives, elderly clients to youth students and even Hollywood stars. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, ExtraTV, RealSimple, and Prevention.com. He is the creator of The Vitality System, an integrative platform that empowers people to optimize their health and wellness, build sustainable habits, and create lasting change. He's currently a top performance coach and manager at a fast growing fitness tech start-up, Future, based in San Francisco.