An epic battle. A clash of titans. Handsome men in tight pants. Chicken wings.
The annual spectacle called Super Bowl Sunday has everything that I love.
But if you look really closely – past the media frenzy, millionaire players, and buzz worthy commercials – what’s left is a struggle. A struggle of two opposing forces, evenly matched, competing for the title, accolades, and rewards of victory.
Is there a more perfect metaphor for finding the right career?
The Teams – A Historic Rivalry
On one side we find The Shoulds (their mascot is a wagging, disapproving finger). This team is filled with all of the messages that we receive from the world around us about how life should be lived. These expectations can come from cultural stereotypes, family upbringing, or even our own egos.
“After all of these years, I should have a bigger title…I should want to be the boss…A man/woman shouldn’t work in this type of job…I should be doing more to save the world…”
On the other side is The Truths, the underdog team made of all of the characteristics, values, and preferences that speak to your spirit. Even the ones that you may be afraid to admit to yourself.
“I love solving problems but struggle with follow-through…Work is not that important to me, I just need to make enough money to support my family…I’m a natural workaholic because I really enjoy making things happen…It feels wrong to say out loud, but I have to admit that I want to be powerful…”
The Shoulds and Truths are constantly at odds in our lives, not just in career choices. The more that we can honor our truths as we make decisions, the happier we’ll be. Unfortunately reality very rarely goes that smoothly, which is how we end up in a Super Bowl sized struggle.
If you’re ever stuck trying to figure out your next career step, let the big game give you some valuable advice:
- Ignore all of the hype, it’s only a game
With the amount of time, money, and attention spent on the Super Bowl, one would think that there were some real life consequences attached. Nope, by Monday morning it’s clear that the whole shebang was just a game. Now back to your regularly scheduled life…
Your career choice is just that – how you plan to spend many hours every week in order to make the money required to feed yourself. There is so much hoopla about choosing the right career: Find your life purpose. Uncover your dream job. Discover your perfect career path. Meet your destiny. Blah, blah, blah…
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those goals, but it’s all SO very self-important. Focus on finding the right next step for the life that you are building. That’s it, nothing more. It will be a lot less stressful that way.
- Haters gonna hate
Every team has fans and the more heated the rivalry, the more rabid the fans seem to be. Whatever career move you choose, please be prepared for both boos and cheers. The people around you may mean well, but are going to be biased by their personal Shoulds and Truths. Learn to play through the noise.
- Unnecessary roughness not allowed
Epic battles are not for the faint of heart. We expect things to get a little messy at times, however, there’s no reason to be cruel. Don’t listen to the self-defeating voices that sometimes whisper to us in moments of doubt. Don’t believe the fears that tell you that you aren’t enough – smart enough, tall enough, prepared enough, extraverted enough, etc. Don’t give credence to the lies that say that your unique talents and strengths are never going to lead to a job that pays well. If you are committed to doing the work required to excel in your next role, you can be successful.
- The elements matter
Before the game there were many discussions about the first cold weather Super Bowl. I’m not sure why; football has always been most exciting in the elements as coaches and players adjust their approaches to accommodate the conditions. External factors need to be considered as you map your career strategies. The right move may be to take a less exciting position with great healthcare benefits while you and your partner are thinking about having kids. Perhaps the perfect job for this moment requires a pay cut, but sets you up for a role that makes your heart sing. Or maybe the conditions are just right for you to jump directly into that ideal work.
- Same time next year
As high as the stakes are, never forget that the Super Bowl is an annual occurrence. Each team that fell off during the playoffs, every fumble or missed tackle will have the opportunity to be redeemed next season. This is true for your career, as well. You get more than one shot at fulfilling work. If, for any number reasons, you need to pursue a job that satisfies The Shoulds, don’t despair. The next career leap gives you another chance to get closer to your Truths.
Are you ready for some football?