Friday, June 3, 2011

Pinpoint Your Perfect Career

Have you ever felt stuck in your career?  Employee stress and burn out can account for a lot of dissatisfaction in your life.  After all, you are at work some 8 hours a day or more.  That’s 1/3 of your day if you don’t count sleep.  That’s a long time to be dissatisfied.

If you feel stuck, here are 6 great ways to find your ideal career:

    1.   Brainstorm on a sheet of paper - I’ve talked about this before and it’s a strategy I use all the time.  Take a pad of paper and write down at the top your objective in question form.  Then, simply list out 20 answers to your question.  For example, you could write “What should I be doing with my time and life?”  Then stay seated for a half hour to an hour coming up with answers to that question.  The key to this exercise is coming up with 20 answers - don’t quit until you have 20 answers.  You can repeat every day until you get the answer you seek. 

2.   Ask 3 close friends - Sometimes our friends know us better than ourselves.  While meeting with one of your friends, mention you are at a crossroads in your life and career.  Ask what they think you’d enjoy doing.  You might be surprised at how easily they can zero in to your strengths and abilities and report a perfect job area.

3.   Ask your boss and coworkers - much like your friends in the example above, your boss and coworkers most likely see you in a way you do not see yourself.  In fact, they are likely most familiar with your strengths and weaknesses in the work environment.  Compile all the answers you get from them and see if there are any common threads you can explore.

4.  Call a headhunter - If you are searching in your career, it’s likely you have a resume.  Sometimes you can catch a headhunter or recruiter during their slow times and meet with them to pick through what you might be good at.  I’ve done this at different times in my life and the people seem open to talking with people.  After all, if you don’t get paid, they don’t either.  The ideas I get are usually good.

5.  Take a career assessment test - There are several sites on the Internet you might be able to take one of these tests for a fee.  But using my ‘headhunter’ tip above, many headhunters have this software and don’t mind you taking the test in their office.   I’ve taken these tests two times in my life and they usually take an hour or two, but they are thorough.  They ask you to answer a series of questions about what you are good at, what you like to do, what you prefer doing over what you don’t.  If you take one, you will likely see some new exciting areas to explore in your life.

6.   Keep a journal - Do you keep a journal?  If so, read through, looking for common threads in your writing.  Keep your eyes peeled for trends and activities you like as well as don’t like.  In fact, finding examples of what you don’t like and what frustrates you is almost as important as finding what you do like.  For example, if you hate an overwhelming boss, you’d probably like a self-directed position.  If you hate nosy coworkers you’d probably prefer your own office. 

Discovering what you really want to do with your life is the most important decision you can make.  We spend 1/3 or more of our lives at work.  So figuring out the right career is important to keeping that 1/3 of our lives happy and productive.

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