Crowded StreetsWhen you ask people what they do, they usually give their occupation. I am a “teacher,” a “manager,” a “gogo dancer” or whatever. We have all at some point had that be the beginning of a conversation. People identify themselves with their occupation.

Some people stop there and say things like “oh that must be interesting.” or “really, what’s that like? (if they are being extra polite). I like to hear people’s stories though, so I ask “how did you get into that?” or “Why did you start doing that?” The answer is all too often a little disturbing to me.

Here is how the conversation goes:

After introductions I meet Bob and somebody inevitably asks something like, what do you do? Bob says well… I went to college for engineering but ended up taking a job, then I stayed with that company for a few years and then changed over to Brand X…. (Story cut short for time and boring-ness)… then I ended up getting a job offer for Brand Y.

I have heard thousands of those stories (yes literally thousands) while interviewing people for jobs and meeting and chatting with people for the first time.

Although this is very normal, I find it a little sad each time because, from the sound of it Bob didn’t really plan his career or his life, he didn’t say I really want to do this in advance. Instead he was just whisked along by whatever life floated his way. I’m not mad at Bob for doing this but I am 100% sure that people don’t just end up where they want to be by chance.

[tweetmeme float=”left”] “…the only way to be truly satisfied is to do great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do” – Steve Jobs

I believe that to have an opportunity to love what you do you must be intentional about your work and your life. It starts with small steps and continues with you moving to use your god given talents to do something that you enjoy in the market place. You can do it but you must make the decision to be intentional. Start by getting up early and journaling, or doing Strengthsfinders 2.0 to discover your great areas. You can read a book in your area of choice. None of these are life changing by themselves but if small decisions and behaviors are cultivated carefully over time, you will not “end up” anywhere. Also remember to avoid this problem!

I realized today that I am in the ‘end up” prevention industry. I couldn’t find that industry listed in between electronic manufacturing and entertainment when I went to register our company on LinkedIn but that’s what we do.

If you are going to identify yourself with your occupation and you are going to spend more single amounts of time doing work than you will with your family, don’t you want to do something that makes you light up when you get the opportunity.

I know I do.

Question: What do you do to be intentional to avoid “ending up” somewhere.