Reframe Your Career: From Mediocrity to Meaning 

What do you want to be when you grow up? When we look back, our childhood dreams can be a true source of inspiration. I wanted to be a lawyer driving a BMW 750il – not sure where I went wrong as a kid…thankfully, I course corrected! Your career shouldn’t just be about earning a living; it should also provide a sense of fulfillment and align with your personal values. As we author our lives, the inputs that influence our decisions and shape our careers come from both within and outside of us. Our “why” may never be clear and the beauty is it may come at a moment when we least expect. It is our choice to rise out of any form of mediocrity and shift to meaning from our career.

We discussed this with Angie Callen, founder and CEO of Career Benders (a former engineer), on the HAPPINESS SQUAD Podcast. Angie shared her journey and experience as we delved into the concept of career satisfaction in an illuminating conversation. She shared insights from her unique approach in helping clients evaluate their choices, reframe their crises, and make decisions that lead to long-term fulfillment. Let’s cover this across three areas: 

  1. Balance Between Career and Personal Growth
  2. The Mediocrity Trap: Understanding Your Impact
  3. Reframing Crisis as Growth Opportunities

“We reach a fraction of our potential, not because we can’t, but because we’re not intentional about tapping into it.” – Angie Callen

Balance Between Career and Personal Growth

Navigating the balance between career and personal growth is a crucial consideration when seeking fulfilment and happiness in one’s professional life. Personal growth constitutes various facets—physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual—and each contributes to a person’s overall well-being. Likewise, career growth plays an essential role in providing financial stability, a sense of achievement, and an opportunity to put skills and knowledge into expertise. Overemphasizing one over the other can result in discontentment or even burnout. Often, we find ourselves sacrificing personal growth for the sake of our careers, forgoing our passions, and neglecting our well-being. Pedestals of achievements become a consuming center of our lives, with self-improvement and pursuits of passions left on the back burner.

Though these successes may initially bring satisfaction, there is a danger of leading a discontented and unfulfilled life, as we often yearn for growth and a sense of purpose beyond occupational accomplishments. Angie Callen, sheds light on this very topic. From personal experience and expertise in career coaching, Angie highlights the importance of acknowledging this delicate equilibrium between career progression and personal development. Achieving a stable life isn’t solely about climbing up the career ladder or gaining recognitions, it includes investing time in personal growth, fostering meaningful relationships, cultivating novel skills, and pursuing passions. You can achieve this by signing up for a course within a space that you are passionate, joining a networking event to meet new people and grow your circle, or scheduling regular check-ins with an advisor or mentor that can support your personal and career development plan.

Incorporating a healthy balance between career and personal growth is indispensable for a meaningful, fulfilling life that thrives on both outer achievements and inner contentment. The beauty is that it is never too late to redefine your purpose, find harmony in your life, and discover your passion to find that shift from success to significance.

The Mediocrity Trap: Understanding Your Impact

What is the mediocrity trap? It a state where employees mechanically follow routines and norms without fully tapping into their potential or appreciating their own worth. An important step to escape the mediocrity trap is to understand your impact. This concept revolves around the realization that each of us hold a unique imprint in our field, which can often be obscured by external expectations, norms or our insecurities. It encourages us to acknowledge and value our strengths and contributions instead of underestimating our worth or settling for less. When explored as part of a career path, this insight can help us articulate the value we bring to our work and communicate it confidently and effectively.

Expanding on this, Angie highlights this is a trap experienced by many professionals, as it is easy to fall into this ‘routine’ in the modern workspace. The key is to rise above it! Every individual has the potential to make significant contributions and should not be curtailed by a limited perspective. The knowledge of our impact can shape our career path and nurture overall satisfaction. Recognizing our value can lead to more significant and fulfilling roles within and beyond our current workplace. It can also change how others perceive us professionally, opening up new opportunities. Journaling is a powerful tool. By capturing, reflecting and acknowledging small wins, achievements, results, positive moments regularly, as well as making a habit of integrating our talents and strengths at work, we will unlock our ability to elevate our game.

The impact of escaping the mediocrity trap not only goes beyond immediate career benefits, but also instil newfound confidence, enhance personal growth, and usher in a sense of fulfilment drawn from the difference one makes. This all dovetails into Angie’s philosophy that a fulfilling career serves as a cornerstone for a happier and well-rounded life. When one is satisfied with their career, it permeates all aspects of life, positively impacting relationships, mental health, and creating a sense of satisfaction and achievement that extends far beyond the workplace.

Reframing Crisis as Growth Opportunities

In the pursuit of a successful career, we can encounter a change in our role or a job loss.  It is a situation that many of us may perceive as a personal failure. However, as discussed in the HAPPINESS SQUAD podcast with Angie Callen, job loss does not, in any way, diminish our value as an employee, individual or constitute a personal failing. In fact, it often has to do with external environmental factors (a struggling economy, changes in market dynamics, or a company’s strategic response to unforeseen circumstances) than an our own shortcomings. These types of hurdles drive us to a mindset of absolute or career-ending crisis. This is a normal reaction. Rather than be reactive, take the opportunity to develop a measured response.

As discussed with Angie, the concept of reframing crises as a growth opportunity is incredibly simple and powerful – “why is this happening TO me” shifts to “why is this happening FOR me?” A radical shift in this mentality can allow the supposed crises to be viewed as opportunities and plays a significant role in preserving our self-esteem and maintaining morale during this challenging time. Allowing a period to grieve and process the emotions associated with the job loss is an essential part of the healing process, rather than dwelling on self-blame and negativity.  These instances serve as valuable learning curves that provide insights into strengths and areas of opportunity. Angie has assisted her clients in shifting their mindset from fear and scarcity to abundance and optimism.

This shift in perspective paves the way for new forms of adaptability and resilience, which are, indeed, crucial assets for any professional. Angie presents an approach dealing with what might seem like a career crisis at first glance – her remedy is the art of reflection. When you reach this cross road, take a step back by taking a few deep breaths – pause and assess the situation – rather than reacting impulsively. Leverage the Ikigai model to identify your strengths, passions, what the world needs and what you can get paid for. Growth does not happen in a place of comfort, seize this moment as opportunities for growth and change rather than wallowing in despair or insecurity.  A considered reflection ensures a measured response that can foster and lead to more fulfilling career paths. This enlightened internal approach coupled with a serious consideration of external factors can lead to resilience, stronger mental health, and overall career satisfaction in the long run.

In Conclusion

For professionals in the midst of a career transition or seeking greater fulfillment, understanding the impact of career satisfaction on overall well-being is paramount. The key insights from our conversation with Angie Callen underscore the value of self-reflection, the power of positive mindset shifts, and the importance of aligning one’s career with personal values and aspirations. Angie’s emphasis on balancing career and personal growth, reframing crisis as growth opportunities, and viewing job loss as a result of external factors, not personal shortcomings, offers a fresh perspective on navigating career transitions. We discussed how exploring childhood dreams could reveal one’s true calling, while understanding the significance of your impact helps escape societal norms or the mediocrity trap.

Remember, success isn’t simply about reaching a destination; it’s about the journey and the transformation that occurs along the way. Are you ready for your shift?

Angie Callen, the Founder and Principal of Career Benders, Inc., helps inspire confident professionals through career coaching, job search guidance, resume writing, and employment-to-entrepreneur transitions. A former engineer, Angie specializes in working with technical professionals, high-level managers, and executives to navigate the challenges of the workforce today. Over the past five years, Career Benders has helped over 1,000 individuals across the country realize their true potential and marketability, find career satisfaction, and grow confidently.

Additionally, Angie hosts a career-focused podcast called No More Mondays, where she interviews professionals who have wisdom on breaking down career barriers and provide actionable takeaways to help take charge of your Monday Blues and beat your Sunday Scaries.

Learn more about her at and LinkedIn.

Listen to the full podcast with Angie below.

Access and subscribe to the all of the episodes of the Happiness Squad Podcast here.

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With the focus on enhancing joy, health, love and meaning in your life, my transformational approach is interdisciplinary and integrates learnings from spiritual wisdom traditions, philosophy, positive psychology, neuroscience and organizational development.

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