THINKING ABOUT A CAREER CHANGE? Here’s what to do; and how expert career coaching and counseling can help.

If you’re like most people considering a career change, you’re probably thinking about various potential jobs . That seldom works. Since you want work that fits you, start with YOU rather than exploring careers. Here are a few things to consider:

Natural talents and innate abilities Everyone is born with a unique group of talents that are as individual as a fingerprint or snowflake. These talents give each person a special ability to do certain kinds of tasks easily and happily, yet also make other tasks seem like pure torture. Can you imagine your favorite improvisational comedian as an accountant? Talents are completely different from acquired knowledge, skills, and interests. Your interests can change. You can gain new skills and knowledge. Your natural, inherited talents remain with you for your entire life. They are the hand you have been dealt by Mother Nature. You can’t change them. You can, however, play the hand you have been dealt brilliantly and to your best advantage. Your new direction will fit best if it combines your talents and personality perfectly, and requires very little time spent in activities that do not make best use of your strengths.

Personality traits and temperament Many people are engaged in careers that make it necessary to suppress themselves at the job. An elegant fit between you and your work includes and supports the full self-expression of your personality. Telltale signs of a career that doesn’t fit your personality include: the necessity to assume a different personality at work, restricted self-expression, activities that conflict with your values.

Passions, meaning, mission, purpose  People who are enthusiastic about their work are usually engaged in something they care about and are proud of what they do. They feel they are making a contribution. They may need to go to work to pay the bills, but that is not what gets them out of bed in the morning.

Willingness to stretch your boundaries Stretch as far as possible toward a career choice that will not be a compromise. At the same time, be completely realistic. It makes no sense to make plans you are unwilling or unable to achieve.

Fulfills your goals Having something big to shoot for is an important part of the joy of working. A custom-designed career supports you to fulfill your personal and family goals and gives you a sense of challenge on the job.

Rewards fit your values Like a biscuit you give a dog, rewards are the motivators that help keep you happily performing your tricks at work. Some rewards mean more to you than others. That is because they are linked with your values.

Compatible work environments Each person flourishes in some work environments and finds others stressful or otherwise inappropriate. Several different aspects of the environment that surrounds you play a vital role in the quality of your work life. You live in a certain geographical environment. The company you work for has a particular organizational environment, style, and corporate personality that affects you every minute you are there. On a smaller scale, your immediate work environment includes the physical work setting, the tone or mood of your office, and your relationships with others, including your supervisor, fellow employees, and clients or customers.

The bottom line Are the careers you are considering really suitable, doable, and available? Do they really fit you? The decisions you make about your career direction are no more than pipe dreams unless they are achievable and actually turn out as you hope they will. Research is the key to understanding the reality of potential future careers.

How expert career coaching can help: Most of what we know about ourselves.is based on past experiences. If you just reorganize these experiences and points-of-view into a new job, your future is likely to look pretty much the same as the past. It is often what we haven’t considered; the things we don’t know that we don’t know, that provide the most powerful insights that support the best choices. It takes looking from new perspectives to reach the best decisions that will lead to the most fulfilling future. And who better to help with that than an expert coach – counselor – adviser – guide?

RIGHT LIVELIHOOD – A Short Guide To Self Expression At Work

When the sun rises, I go to work.
When the sun goes down, I take my rest,
I dig the well from which I drink,
I farm the soil which yields my food,
I share creation. Kings can do no more.
—Anonymous, From China , 2500 B. C.

Right livelihood is an ancient Asian philosophical concept that proposes a perfect working relationship and flow between you and the world around you. Like the farmer who wrote the poem above, when you achieve right livelihood, you are in perfect harmony with creation. You have become ecologically appropriate.

Harmonious work is like breathing: In and out! In and out! On we go! There is a perfect, harmonious balance between you and the rest of the universe. What you give and what you get are balanced. All living creatures, from gorilla to mosquito express right livelihood.  We humans are the exceptions. On close examination, right livelihood is really a very practical set of guidelines for living. Here’s one interpretation of the components:

1. Your work fully expresses all aspects of your nature. It fits your innate talents perfectly. It expresses your temperament and personality fully, even those parts you do not see as positive. It provides the rewards that matter to you. It fulfills your goals. It occurs in an environment that is suitable and appropriate to who you are.
2. The subject of your work is something in which you have a passionate and abiding interest. It is deeply meaningful to you. It continues to appeal to you as the years roll by.
3. Your work continually nourishes you. It provides a natural route for your evolution. Its challenges stretch you to continue to learn and grow.
4. It does no harm to anyone. It is ecologically sound. It does not oppose appropriate stewardship of the earth.
5. It serves humanity in some way. You and I cannot judge what is appropriate service for another person. In the larger scheme of things, an IRS agent is just as important a part of the fabric of humanity as is a teacher, a mother, an entrepreneur. Perhaps without IRS agents, nobody would pay their taxes, everything would crumble, and Mad Max would take over.
6. It is freely accepted. You work because you choose to, not because you are compelled to.
7. You are “being” yourself.

WHAT MAKES A CAREER FIT YOU PERFECTLY? NATURE OR NURTURE?

By now, nearly everyone knows that what makes a particular type of work fit is that it fits you. Squeezing yourself into the wrong career has dire consequences in terms of your self-expression, fulfillment and health. But what makes up the you that the career is supposed to fit? Let’s take a look at

HOW YOU GOT TO BE THE WAY YOU ARE

Nature

Families have long recognized the genetic basis of various traits because they “run in the family”: things like a strong chin, dimples, a stubborn streak, creativity, good looks, and so on.

Some of the most telling studies have involved sets of identical twins separated at birth and adopted by different families. These sets of twins grew up amazingly alike, even though they had no contact with each other. One pair of separated-at-birth twins left school early at the same age, met their husbands at the same age and in the same setting, miscarried, and then each went on to have two boys and a girl. Both had the same odd little personal habits. They both used the palms of their hands to push their noses up, which they both called by the same made-up name, “squidging.” They both laughed the same odd way, dyed their hair the same shade, drank their coffee cold, feared heights and experienced discomfort around blood. They scored the same in psychological and IQ tests, used the same brands of personal care products, and had the same thyroid problems, heart murmurs, and allergies. After they discovered each other, they sent each other identical birthday gifts, and when they met for the first time they were wearing nearly identical clothes. This pair of twins is an especially dramatic example of what the studies revealed.

The point is that genetics determines much more of our personalities and talents than we sometimes think. Much of who you are came pre-formed from the factory. You know that the most beautiful girl and most handsome guy in school didn’t create themselves that way. Their good looks are a happy accident, the gift of their genetic heritage. If they also naturally learn quickly, they didn’t plan that either. So if you daydream in class, or talk too much or not enough, or your left zorch is too small or your hair sticks up, it is not your fault. If you came out cool or hot or sweet, you didn’t do that either. It is all a part of the package the stork delivered.

Nurture

Simpler critters, like reptiles, arrive with their software fully programmed. A newborn snake knows all it needs to know to get by in life without lessons from Mom. It is for the most part a miniature adult, ready to fend for itself. That may be why there aren’t any snake training schools in your town. You just can’t train a snake to do anything it isn’t programmed to do.

Other animals, including most mammals, are more complicated. Their parents teach them how to survive. Although you may think you learn much more these days than when you were little, quite the opposite is true. By the time you were six years old, you had learned the vast majority of what you will ever know, including all the basics such as walking and talking, and a good chunk of your basic personal strategy and attitude about life.

Throughout our lives we learn from the influences around us: parents, friends, television, the “tribes” we belong to, our culture and society, our experiences, our decisions and mistakes. Zoologists call us “tribal primates,” just like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. In ancient times, each of us belonged to one tribe. Now we belong to and are influenced by the wisdom, values, and rules of multiple tribes. Each of your tribes contributes to your personality, no matter how much of an independent-thinking person you consider yourself to be.

We absorb most of this without thinking about it. Mostly we don’t know there is anything to think about. We tend to take our point of view for granted, as if it’s a universal truth and not the product of our upbringing and genetic heritage.

You Are an Accident That Already Happened

Scientists are still arguing about how much of you comes from your ancestors and how much from your environment. In terms of figuring out what to do with your life, it doesn’t really matter. The basic structure of your talents and personality will not likely change very much no matter what their original source. You will master new skills. You may develop and expand your personality and your abilities. But you are not going to become a different person. Who you are now is a lot like who you will be years from now.

When you combine all you have been given by nature with all you have learned through nurture, you get this marvelously complicated and completely unique creature: you. There is no one just like you out of all the billions of people alive. Nobody has the same mix of talents, personality traits, and history.

What does all of this have to do with choosing your career? It obviously makes sense to design a career that fits who you are, not someone else, and not some fantasy character you wish you were. If you are a quiet, private person, you may wish you were the life of the party. But it would be a mistake to pick a career that fits the fantasy instead of who you really are. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow, improve, and learn to be more outgoing. But you would be smart to pick a career that fits the real you rather than some imaginary character. You turned out exactly as you are now. You are perfectly designed to be the best possible you. That’s why it is so important to get to know as much as you can about yourself, your talents and your personality.

THE HUMAN SPIRIT

Right now you might be wondering: “Are you saying I’m just some animal or elegant, complicated machine without freedom of choice and self-determination?” No, not at all. What we have been talking is just one side of human nature. There is another part that changes everything.

Nature and nurture cannot explain the totality of what it means to be human. Yes, there are things we cannot change. At five foot two as an adult, you will not be scouted by the NBA. That’s the way it goes. It would be wise to consider a career other than basketball.

Where we humans surpass every other creature on earth is our ability to imagine a possible future that isn’t going to happen automatically, to create a commitment to that future, and then to make it real. I’m not just talking about our human capacity to plan. I’m talking about the ability to invent a future we desire, even one that seems nearly impossible, and make it happen. That is the power of the human spirit. It is the ability to create.

When John F. Kennedy was president, he created a possibility, a vision for the future: the United States could land a man on the moon within ten years. Even though such an accomplishment seemed nearly impossible, Kennedy created a commitment to that possible future, convinced the American people to share his commitment, and then generated a project to make it happen. Many experts said it was impossible to predict whether we could actually pull it off. We went ahead anyway, and, as we all know, it was a brilliant success. Against all odds, we did it.

Human history is filled with stories of people doing what others considered impossible: Hannibal crossed the Alps with his elephants; the Wright brothers flew; a small group of American colonists created a vision for a brand of democracy that had never existed on the planet before. Vision alone, however, was insufficient. Next, they turned this vision into a commitment, even with all their doubts and fears about whether or not they could fulfill their dream. Then, in the case of the colonists, they declared that commitment to the world through an extraordinary document called the Declaration of Independence. They essentially said: “This is how it is going to be. We stake our lives on fulfilling this dream.”

Vision, commitment, and declaration are not sufficient either, however. Those colonists also had to do all the hard work necessary to make the dream a reality, including hammering out agreements with each other and the part we call the American Revolution. The project of making this dream come true is still one of the major themes of American politics.

SO WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ME?

Everything. You have the ability to turn dreams into reality every bit as much as Kennedy, Hannibal, the Wright brothers, and James Madison did. It is built into you. I have seen many thousands of people who shaped their own lives, often far beyond what they thought was possible, once they discovered the degree of power they had to create a new and extraordinary future for themselves.

We are all potential inventors, creators, artists, authors, entrepreneurs and discoverers—not necessarily in the traditional ways, but in our own lives. We have the power to invent our own individual futures, create a vision of the kind of life we most want to live, and then find a way, against all odds, to make it happen.

So what’s it going to be?

HOW TO GET OUT OF A RUT

There have been endless articles with tips about how to get out of a rut at work. Tips don’t usually make much long-term difference. Putting a plant on your desk or going on a shopping spree isn’t going to solve anything.

The best way to deal with being stuck in a rut is to identify the problem: determine whether it is your job or your life that is stuck in the rut. Is it me or the job? Ask yourself: how much do I enjoy my life outside of work? Do I have adventure, new experiences and fun in my life? Or, do you watch the same TV shows, go to the same restaurants, have the same conversations with the same people over and over? Even movie stars have plenty of routine in their lives. All of us need to take care of the basics. Only you know if it is time to make your life a little juicier. Try new things. Think of what you would love to do but somehow never get around to. Make new friends. Visit new places. Shake out the sameness. It is impossible to know if your job is the main problem if your entire life needs a little more spice. Sometimes adding a little edge to your daily life cures the problem. What can you lose? When was the last time you had such a fabulous homework assignment?

If your life outside of work is fine, then ask, “Is it my job or my career”? Stuck in a rut is an idiom that comes from the days of unpaved roads. It was difficult to avoid the deep grooves in the road left by all the previous buggies that passed by before you.

How much do you enjoy the actual day-to-day work you perform? –the tasks and projects? Each job consists of a few very specific functions. Do most of them come easily and naturally to you? Do you care about the subject matter? If not, consider a career change rather than just moving to a new job doing the same things.

If you like the work but not the workplace environment, your co-workers, the routine, the organization or the management, you may just need a new job.

What seems like a rut may be a symptom of stress. What if you did the same work, in the same place, but were more relaxed and focused. You can train yourself to lower your stress level using a new tracking device called SPIRE (spire.io) that measures relaxation, focus and stress and coaches you to improve.