Starting in November, thousands of people in Washington will be directly impacted by a leadership shuffle – even if the same party remains in power. Political transition means that some significant changes may be underway. For those who are seeking to transition to new careers, this political transition can be a golden opportunity.

There will be new actors in the White House and Congress. And that means new bosses and new leadership teams in the executive branch, as well as in the consulting and lobbying firms, all jockeying for position.  How can you survive and even thrive during this very uncertain time?

Time for Some Serious Self Examination

Waiting for an ax to fall or for an opportunity to appear can lead to overeating, drinking too much, or kicking the cat. The key to remaining in control is to take the time now for some systematic introspection. Discover how you can spend your time from nine to five in a way that will generate genuine personal fulfillment. Personal fulfillment is the deep satisfaction that comes from being in touch with your life purpose. Sounds good. But is that possible?

Discovering Your Life Purpose

Joyce Chapman, a well-known life coach, describes life purpose as being “large enough to absorb all your energy, command all your imagination, use all of your resources, and impact the world in an important way.” Our culture has a way of treating the idea of a life purpose as some profound and unknowable mystery. It is, after all, the answer to the question, “Why was I born?”

Life purpose is the fundamental organizing device in an intentional life, and it is discoverable. No mountaintop is necessary. What should you know about your life purpose?

  • Everyone has one.
  • Most people don’t have the language to describe their purpose to themselves and others.
  • With a little guidance, you can find the vocabulary to describe your life purpose. I have guided lots of my clients this way.
  • Everyone has had experiences of living on purpose. These are the moments when life seems to flow, and you think, “This is the right place for me. I fit here.”
  • Purpose can be expressed or experienced in all areas of life: career, family, fun, relationships, family, and personal development.
  • A career that expresses life purpose is a personally fulfilling adventure.

I always take my own medicine. I never write about ideas or exercises that I haven’t used myself. When I completed the life purpose exercise I now use with my clients, it revealed that my life purpose “is to be a useful and trusted companion to grow gifts.” I ask myself, am I acting in a useful and trustworthy way? Will this idea I am considering expand my gifts or those of my clients? If I read this book, will it make me more useful? It was beneficial to discover a language that explained why I loved being a coach for people transitioning to a new job or stage of life.

Your Career as an Expression of Your Life Purpose

Two kinds of people are going to be affected by the upcoming political transition. Some people loved their jobs and others couldn’t wait to leave their desks every day. In both cases, their question will be, “Where can I find work where I will feel personally fulfilled?” We can all discover the elements of our ideal job by asking the right questions:

  • What subject matter appeals – the Law of the Sea Treaty or working for the Humane Society?
  • Do you aspire to obtain credentials in a new profession that needs more people, like nursing? Or perhaps your interest lies in the many aspects of information technology?
  • What organization appeals to you at this point? Is it large or small? Is its focus local, national, or international?
  • What is your ideal role? Do you want to be behind the scenes or represent the organization to potential allies and partners?
  • How much do you want to earn, and what benefits do you need?
  • What work hours make the most sense now? 40 hours/week, part-time?

Some Recommended Steps

Start thinking about these issues now. It is so tempting to put this kind of introspection off until later. There is the hope that everything will turn out well. There is a reluctance to stare into your own heart and extract the ingredients of a purposeful life. Give yourself a break and get a jump on the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Washingtonians who are going to hang on by their fingernails until they get that fateful knock on the door sometime between now and next spring.

Ask yourself about the times you accomplished things that made you feel fulfilled. You can find your life purpose in those stories of the times when you were acting on a purpose. You know them well. They are the stories you return to time and time again, even when describing an achievement from your childhood. I got some useful insight about my life purpose by remembering that I had loved being a camp counselor to kids from the South Side of Chicago when I was fifteen years old.

Make a list of these special moments that occurred during work or other activities, and then look for themes. They will emerge or use me to help you discover the connections that lead to your purpose’s language. Give yourself a break. The sooner you do this kind of work, the longer you will have in life to realize the benefits of understanding your exceptional contribution to the world.

Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. His rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience in just two short days. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.