How to Customize Your Career

If your career isn't delivering the levels of fulfillment you dream of, then it's time for a change. Modern Mentor sits down with Scott Anthony Barlow, host of the Happen to Your Career podcast, to learn how to start the journey to your dream job today.

Rachel Cooke
4-minute read
Episode #658
The Quick And Dirty

If you're ready to transform your career with intention, here are some of Scott Anthony Barlow's top tips to get you started:

  1. Recognize there is tremendous opportunity right now.
  2. Build your ideal career profile.
  3. Don't settle for "it's not so bad today."
  4. Build your support network

Given the number of hours, the amount of energy, and the level of commitment we give to our work, we deserve to find fulfillment in our careers. Scott Anthony Barlow, host of the Happen to Your Career podcast, is here with some candid and actionable advice to serve you on your own journey. 

Barlow is a career coach having helped nearly 40,000 people define and discover their professional happiness. Below are some of the pointers he offered.

Listen to the full conversation on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform, or just click the audio player above.

Seize the opportunity for change

Barlow has been getting calls from people wanting a change…yet paralyzed by fear. There is a pervasive worry that the traditional channels for resume submissions are overcrowded with applicants. So why bother?

Here’s why.

“The pandemic has created huge, huge, huge opportunities because the companies and organizations that have…adapted are now so much more open to different types of roles…There's a massive opportunity to not just respond to off-the-shelf type job ads, but instead to find the right organization, build a relationship with them, and have them create a role for you."

The pandemic has made us crafty and scrappy. So let's lean into that.

“The pandemic has created huge, huge, huge opportunities because companies and organizations...are now so much more open to different types of roles."

Begin with your ideal career profile

Barlow tells the story of his client, Laura, who had achieved great success in her career. She’d been promoted three times within a short window, and leadership at her company seemed invested in growing her further.

But, “it turned from a great situation to [one] where she found herself leading 20 people who were passionate about their work and she wasn't at all.” She was missing out on time with her daughter and had decided it just wasn’t worth the sacrifice.

So, the first step in Barlow's process for the next career step was to identify Laura's ideal career profile. You can do he same. Here's how:

  • • Build a list of 20–30 potential organizations that might better suit you.
  • • Make a detailed list of what you believe would create an ideal work situation for you – a set of hypotheses to test.
  • • Have informal conversations with people in or near these organizations – to test your hypotheses.
  • • These conversations will lead to building relationships, narrowing the field as you go (not all hypotheses prove true!)

Ultimately this process supported Laura in achieving a different outcome for herself. Promotion, status, title weren’t her key drivers. She needed a situation that allowed her to be present for her family – that valued her time away from the office.

And by being vulnerable, experimental, and intentional about taking action, she was able to design her ideal career and go find that.

Don’t settle for “it’s not so bad today”

Barlow knows many people who may not be happy at work, but they may not be deeply unhappy either. But being neither happy nor miserable isn’t good enough. Sometimes lacking happiness at work can lead us to lower the bar on what happiness feels like.

 “A client told me the other day, ‘I ended up in tears four days in a row, but then I went back to work and thought hey – this is pretty good.' That's a cue to realize that you need a new level set. If the very highest points are, "Oh, I could deal with this," then that's the furthest thing from thriving."

This is called "accidentally settling." “If your highs are basically mediocre, then you need to do something about it.”

Don’t wait until you’ve hit your breaking point. Once you feel any distance from happiness, begin mapping your ideal career profile, knowing the journey will take you some time. Don’t wait until you’re miserable to get the ball rolling.

“If your highs are basically mediocre, then you need to do something about it.”

Build your support network

At the beginning of your process, Barlow counsels, you need to surround yourself with people who won't just show up with bursts of encouragement, but rather those who will support you in the long term; people who you trust to be present for you throughout a potentially months-long journey.

Be prepared for a search to fulfillment to take time. Give yourself the gift of focus and patience. And you will find what you’re looking for.

About the Author

Rachel Cooke

Rachel Cooke is a leadership and workplace expert who holds her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Founder of Lead Above Noise, she has been named a top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and many more.