The Fortune 500 Insider Network is an online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Beth Brady, CMO of The Principal Financial Group, has answered the question: Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self about career development?
First, find your passion kid. Then, figure out how to make money pursuing it.
Remember when you were younger and adults would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I usually answered with occupations I thought were cool and fascinating, like an archaeologist, doctor, astronaut, and even a movie or rock star. But, as I grew up, reality set in. I began to base my aspirations on what interested me, not on what sounded cool. My focus shifted to understanding my passions and then figuring out how to make a living while pursuing them.
Ultimately, I knew I wanted a career that combined a variety of my passions: world travel, helping companies build world-class brands, and connecting products with people. Of course, I didn’t start out working in all three areas. I had to work toward them. So during my career I sought out opportunities to build my skillsets so I could better pursue the things I loved to do. That led me to where I am today—the chief marketing officer of a global Fortune 300 organization. Having a wide range of experiences under my career belt serves me well each day.
As I think of the people I hire and work with, I realize passion has become an integral part of finding satisfaction at work for them as well. Many are discovering it is more important to do work that fulfills a passion as opposed to separating their daily work lives from doing what they love. Scores of books and whole movements like Live Your Legend are devoted to helping people first discover their passions and then take steps to pursue those passions in their work lives.
Here are some tips that’ll help you do what you love:
- First, figure out what you enjoy doing—what energizes you.
- Be curious. It broadens your horizons and may help you discover a passion you didn’t know you had.
- Change is good. Don’t be afraid to make a change. Sometimes you realize the path you are on doesn’t feel right. Give yourself the room to breathe and explore new things. It will make you happier and ultimately a better person for it.
- Don’t worry if others don’t understand why you are doing what you are doing. There is only one person it needs to make sense to: you. No one knows what is in your heart better than you.
Looking back, I would give myself the same advice offered by the late Apple (AAPL) founder, Steve Jobs: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Read all responses to the Fortune 500 Insider question: Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self about career development?
Proof experiences are worth more than money by Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York.
What a low-paying job can do for your career by James E. Lillie, CEO of Jarden.
Here’s what you can do now to have a more successful career by Frans Hijkoop, chief human resources officer at MetLife.