Here’s what people in careers that fit well say about their work.
Ask yourself, “If I did the same work I do now in a different environment, would I be able to claim most of these statements for myself?” If so, you may just need a job change. If many of these do not represent your present work, you need a career change. The best way to do do this well is to hire an expert guide: a career coach or career counselor.
- You feel like a duck in a pond. Your work is a natural expression of your talents and personality.
- It fits you so well that often, work is play.
- You are proud of what you do and enjoy telling other people about it.
- You are highly respected at work because you are so good at what you do.
- You do not have to pretend to be someone else at work.
- Your own best and most natural forms of creative expression are what you are paid to do.
- The environment you work in brings out your best efforts.
- You enthusiastically look forward to going to work most of the time.
- Your job rewards your most important values and allows you to fulfill your goals, in
terms of personal growth and achievement goals, income, stability, etc.
- The result of your efforts makes a contribution that personally matters to you.
- You don’t spend your days working for something that you don’t really care about.
- Your job directly fulfills your work-related goals. It does not create barriers to realizing
your other goals.
- You like the people you work with.
- You are on a winning team that is having a great time getting the job done.
- A day on the job leaves you feeling energized, not burned out.
Years ago when I stopped smoking I used a technique psychologists call precommitment. I knew that the little voice in my head could easily talk me into just having one. And down the slippery slope I would slide. I made a deal with a friend who wanted to quit as well. We each wrote out checks for hundreds of dollars to the re-election committee of our biggest political nightmare. (We both picked Jesse Helms.) We switched envelopes, stamped, addressed, and ready to go. Then once a week we met, looked each other face-to-face and said whether or not we had kept our promise. If one of us caught the slightest flicker of lie in the other’s eyes, they would mail the envelope. There were times when I would have paid that much money for a cigarette, but knowing it would go to help re-elect Helms kept me on the straight and narrow.
The idea is to make it nearly impossible to crap out on your promise. Odysseus ordered himself lashed to the mast and had his seamen fill their ears with wax so he could listen to the deadly, seductive songs of the Sirens.
What is that huge challenge you want to face that you think your mind will con you out of fulfilling? What is that behavior or habit you want to change?
Find a cost you are not willing to pay and someone to play this powerful game with you.
The successful career changer makes designing their future work into a project. The first step is to look for clues. Become a career detective searching for the best clues about the fit between you and the working world. Since you want a career that fits you instead of one you have to squeeze into, the most powerful clues are about you.
A clue is anything you consider potentially useful in choosing career design components. You may be able to explain why you think it is useful, or you may just have a hunch. Don’t dismiss any clue too quickly in the early stages. It could be an observation, an insight, or a piece of information. In the personal realm, a clue can be about who you are, what you do well, how you behave, what matters to you, and so on. Clues can be information, observations, hunches, or insights. A friend said that at age 20 he didn’t know how to reconcile his great loves: women, drawing, and tying trout flies. He ultimately became a well-known plastic surgeon. If you’re not sure about a clue, you can do some work on it with questions and research to see if it has lasting value. Early in your career design project, the best clues will be about you.
- Career change ideas you have had
- How you think
- How you behave in various situations
- What you do well or not so well
- Subjects you enjoy or master easily
- Passions and interests
- Your positive or negative reaction to something you learn about a particular career
- The things you care about
- Your outlook on life
- What attracts or repels you
- Your quirks and idiosyncrasies
- What other people say about you
- Your natural talents
- Tasks you enjoy
Notice that you are not yet looking for clues about careers themselves. In the early stages of the career design process, looking for clues means paying attention to you and how you function. Until you have fully taken your own measure, it’s premature to try to squeeze yourself into ideas about careers. Your investigation ultimately will focus on clues related to externals such as the workplace, the economy and other practical pieces of the puzzle. But first you need to investigate the you that you want a career to fit.
This New York Times article clarifies what we have been saying about ADHD for many years: in prehistoric times, novelty seeking was an advantage. Now it is a disadvantage in school and at work when one is rewarded for the exact opposite: paying attention to the teacher, focusing on endless, boring meetings, and concentrating on detailed work. Read this great article:
A NATURAL FIX FOR ADHD