In 2008, Oprah Winfrey addressed the graduating class at Stanford University. While her speech was geared towards college students, she made several useful points to consider on your journey towards career fulfillment.
If you’ve identified that you’re feeling unfulfilled, you’re moving in the right direction. Oprah states that feelings are our compass, and says that, “When you don’t know what to do, get still.” When it comes to career fulfillment, “getting still” means taking time to slow down and acknowledge the feelings that surround your current situation. Have you heard people say, “trust your gut” or “I received a gut check?” That’s because feelings arise from the “gut.” When we don’t “trust our gut” – when we don’t listen to our feelings – we literally get a “gut check.” Sometimes we may even get a stomachache! Feeling unfulfilled in your career is one of these important “gut checks.”
As you explore feelings, it’s important to understand their roots. Have you always felt unfulfilled in this career, or did something trigger these feelings? Where do these feelings stem from? Is it really your career, or is it something else in your life that doesn’t feel right? During this exploration, it might be helpful to remember Oprah’s next point: “What is this here to teach me?” Oprah points out that “Whatever you resist persists.” Don’t resist your feelings; instead, use them as a tool to uncover your roadblocks to career fulfillment. Before you start rebuilding your external world, focus on rebuilding your internal world so you don’t recreate another unfulfilled career on the same uncertain foundation.
Oprah makes the point that “Whatever happened to you in the past has no power over you now.” To move forward, you must learn to let go of the bad feelings you’ve accrued in your career. Let go of anger, resentment, sadness, and pain. Rekindle your inner flame, and reestablish your will power to have a career that’s fulfilling. Once that inner flame in burning, it’ll be easier to move past negative emotions and be present in the current moment. You’ll burn away the negativity clouding your ability to listen to your heart; you’ll burn away the self-doubt and lack of self-trust.
Once you’ve let go of the past and have reclaimed your will power, consider Oprah’s next point: “Follow your heart and the rest will follow.” Negative mind chatter can be unbearably loud, while the heart tends to have a soft, gentle whisper. If you can “get still” enough to listen to that whisper, see where it leads you. In your heart, what fills you up? What are you passionate about? Observe the moments in your life when you feel fulfilled. What are you doing? What are your skills and talents? Take a look at your current career and see if it makes sense. Oprah makes the point that happiness comes from being apart of something and giving back. She states, “If you chose to offer your skills and talents in service, it turns everything you do from a job into a gift.” How can you offer your skills and talents in service?
If you’re unhappy in your current job situation, view this unhappiness as a gut check – an opportunity to “get still.” Observe your feelings, rekindle your inner will power, and listen to your heart so that you can move forward on a more fulfilling career path.