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  • Writer's pictureJohn Bowie

Keys to the Boardroom: Opportunity or Destiny?

Many reasons have been given for burnout-overwork, job stress, fear of being downsized. But the most common cause of burnout occurs when your daily actions are out of sync with your personal goals. There is a disconnection between personal actions and professional responsibilities. You feel you’re not making a difference, and even if you are, the difference has no value to you.

When you’re burned-out, even the most insignificant responsibilities become major chores. You procrastinate until you can’t put them off any longer, and then you grind through the tasks, growing ever more angry and depressed. Your energy wanes, your enthusiasm evaporates, and the downward spiral begins….

The CEO of a large public utility has seen it:

Young people say in order to really advance I ought to be over there, even if I don’t like that job one bit. Life is doing what you enjoy. It’s sad if you do what you do to get where I am and you look back and say I didn’t enjoy any part of my life and now I’m here and so what! That should be very disturbing. I can look back and say I enjoyed every move that I made. Some scary. Some not so scary. But at least I did it on my own, basically, with some nudging from other people at times. The most important part to me is to decide what you really like in life. Of course, you consider whether a new job is a better promotional opportunity. But that presumes that you like it in the first place. Never get into something because it has great potential but you’re unhappy in it. That would be a sad mistake. A lot of young people are doing that today.

So is that new job posting your destiny, or is it just another opportunity? And how will you know the difference?

If it is your destiny, you won’t care whether it is a promotion or a lateral move, whether it carries a ten-thousand-dollar salary increase or a decrease in salary. You will do it because the challenge excites you so much you can’t wait to get to work. You will do it because you enjoy the people you’ll be working with, or because the position offers you the chance to contribute, to really make a difference. Or perhaps you will do it because you’ll have to start all over again and learn something totally new.

If it is merely an opportunity, the opposite is true. You won’t care so much what the job is about. Instead, the job’s primary allure is that it involves a promotion or a raise in salary or a more expeditious road to further advancement. The responsibilities and challenges of the job are secondary, something you are willing to do to get the other rewards.

As this CEO points out, to pursue a hollow opportunity at the expense of your destiny is a sad, and ultimately futile, career strategy. Success requires excellence, and you cannot excel at a position you do not enjoy. Success takes hard work, and hard work is impossible to sustain if you hate what you’re doing.

It takes courage to turn down a lucrative career opportunity. It takes even more courage to leave one behind that you’ve already accepted. But if you’re experiencing the symptoms of burnout, the best thing you can do is get out-now!-and into another area that you enjoy.

First of all, you think about whether you like what you’re doing. And are you good at what you’re doing? Would you be better in another area? And if you reach a yes to that question the first thing you do is get the heck out of what you’re doing and get over to what you like and what you do best. Once you do that, and you’re good at what you do, eventually people will recognize it.

So whenever you consider a new job, ask yourself: Is this your destiny or merely an opportunity? Does it excite you to think about doing this, or are the ancillary benefits, the side-effects of the position, the only reasons why you are considering it? Are you doing it for the money? Are you doing it for the status?

Destiny is focusing on what you love to do, what you know in your heart you were meant to do. Opportunity is focusing on what you think you want and taking paths that seem to lead in that direction, regardless of whether you enjoy traveling that path or not.

Once you find the courage to abandon the opportunities and return to your destiny, your energy and enthusiasm will flourish, and so will your career.

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