How many times have you gotten up in the morning, gone to work, returned home, and gone to bed not having a clue as to what you did that day? Many of us have had that happen and then passed it off as just another aspect of the daily grind. I can remember early in my career finding myself on such a treadmill. I was more or less adrift without any concept of where I was going.
When I took my first job, I got off to a rocket-fast start. I managed to move up quickly from one job to the next, and I was lucky several times to be in the right place at the right time. My career took off, and with each new job I faced challenges of increasing intensity that took more and more time from the rest of my life. I did not complain, because I wanted to succeed. I also had the good fortune of an incredibly supportive wife, who was successful and hard working on her own. She understood and shared in my desire for success. All of this fed a frenzy of activity, most of which I thought was good.
To be honest, I had no real idea where all of this work was leading me. I had spent virtually no time thinking through what I was doing in my career or where my career was going. As long as I was moving forward, with more and more challenges and responsibilities, there was no time or reason to think about me. I was consumed by the job, and for a very long time that was all I needed.
After I had worked for about eight years, it finally dawned on me that I was doing nearly the same things that I had been doing at the start of my career. Yes, I was working in bigger organizations, had a bigger title, and was making more money, but in many ways what I had done in the past year was the same as what I had in the previous eight years. This realization was shocking, but also life-altering.
For the first time I realized that I was not in a career, I was in a job. I was not necessarily doing what I wanted; I was doing what my boss needed and wanted me to do. Satisfying the needs and wants of a boss in not in itself a bad thing. On the contrary, being the go-to person has a great deal of merit, as was evidenced by my explosive rise in the hierarchy. The problem was that I was paying no regard to my needs, my career, and my future. That was when I started to focus on the concept of self.