How to Get Your Career Back on Track

A piece of fiction that teaches you how to realize your destiny.

A few years ago I was at the airport in Costa Rica looking to kill some time before my flight. I’d just finished the book I brought and I was hoping to find something decent at one of the souvenir shops. After checking two different spots I was pretty certain that whatever it was I was looking for didn’t exist. Every book looked like the same old airport store garbage. And then just as I was about to call it quits, I stumbled across a copy of The Alchemist. I’d never heard of this book before but one glance at the back of the book was all I needed to know. Oddly there was only one line of text and it read, “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”

I couldn’t wait to crack it open. I was finally going to indulge in a story that would allow my imagination to do what it does best. For the past several years, I’ve had a steady diet of nonfiction on personal development, spirituality and professional development so this was a welcomed break from the monotony of facts and theories. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this work of fiction would go on to teach me more about life and it’s true meaning than any book on psychology or philosophy ever could. 

Listen to your intuition and pursue your calling in life.

The overarching themes are about the importance of following your heart, having faith in yourself and realizing your destiny. I can’t think of a more perfect book for anyone to read who may be contemplating a career change. Here we have a story about a shepherd who was more or less content tending to his flock (your 9 to 5). At the same time he keeps having this nagging dream about the treasures that are out there for him if only he pursued his calling (the success that awaits you). As fate would have it, he bumps into a couple of strangers, a gypsy and an old king, who stir in him the interest to discover what they call his Personal Legend (your calling). 

Santiago ends up leaving the safety and certainty of the life of a shepherd in search for his treasure. There are many twists and turns along his journey. Successes and failures – each with their own lessons imparted. At one point, Santiago faces a major setback when he is robbed and left penniless in a foreign city. Rather than choosing to give up his dreams he crafts a plan to help a crystal merchant grow his business. The boy thrives in his new environment and soon has more money than he’d ever need to return home a success. Instead he chooses to continue along his journey because he knows that he has not yet realized his destiny.

Along your journey you will encounter people who can support you.

On his way to the pyramids of Egypt the boy comes to an oasis in the desert where he meets a master alchemist who teaches him the importance of listening to his heart and pursuing his Personal Legend. The alchemist shares much of his wisdom of the Soul of the World. Without the guidance and insight of the alchemist Santiago would never have realized his destiny. 

Disaster often sets the stage for a fresh start.

A few days before I discovered The Alchemist I was with friends in Costa Rica enjoying some much needed time away from the daily grind that was my life. On day four I received an unexpected email from my boss informing me that I’d been let go and that I’ll have to return my laptop and collect my final paycheck as soon as I return. 

At the time I was shocked. How could this be? I thought. I’d been a celebrated member of the sales organization and yet there I was overlooking the ocean realizing that my time was up . This being the startup company that I helped build with my blood, sweat and tears over the course of the past three years. Was this really how my story was going to end?

Little did I know that this was where my story truly began. It was at this point that I decided that I was going to a find a new path. If this is how life is in tech sales then it’s just not for me. It would take me another year and a half and two false starts before I found my way but eventually I did.

Breaking the pattern can be so hard when you don’t have support.

I had an idea for what I wanted to do, but I had no idea how I was going to get there. So what did I do? I settled. I took another job in sales hoping for a better result and quit two months later when I realized it wasn’t going to work out. What I’d like to say is that this was the time when I wised up, hired a coach and took action, but it wasn’t. I settled once again, this time agreeing to work for a company that I’d told myself I’d never work for (I had no passion for their product).

I think you know how this story goes. Despite the fact that I’d found a great job with a company that had all of the things that my previous startup lacked, I was more miserable than ever. Even though I would turn in my best W-2 yet I was experiencing the worst existential crisis of my life.

When you follow your heart good things happen.

Long story short, I hired a coach, got my shit together and took serious the whispers of my intuition for the first time in years. I put a plan together, took action and haven’t looked back since. The joy and satisfaction that I experienced in my previous life doesn’t come close to what it is now. I’m beginning to understand the real meaning of success and I hope that you do too.

In what ways are you settling for the predictable life at the cost of your dreams?

The reason the story of The Alchemist resonates with so many people is because, on some level, we can all relate to the experience of the shepherd. How about you? Has life ever nudged you in the direction of your Personal Legend? Have you ever been curious about what that may be for you?

Back when I read the book the first time I didn’t get it because I hadn’t yet lived the journey. I was like the boy who, at the start of the book, only knows of the predictable life of a shepherd who, despite taking his flock here and there, never strayed too far from home. Exactly two years later I pick up The Alchemist for the second time and it’s a whole new ballgame.

Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Everything changes the moment you commit to making your dreams a reality. Like Santiago, I went out in pursuit of my calling, which for me is to help people like you find meaning in your work life. The real lesson in the story, however, is not to wait or put it off if you know it’s the right thing to do. Had I taken my interest in coaching seriously when I was let go then I could have spared myself the grief I experienced by staying on a career path that I knew wasn’t right for me.

Contact me if you’re interested in discovering your own Personal Legend.