By Fern Gorin, M.F.T. Director, The Life Purpose Institute and Onyinye Anike, Certified Life Coach.
A recent survey found that eighty percent of people are not satisfied with their work. Most people wanted a more meaningful life — do you?
Are you confused about what you want? Perhaps you are facing layoff or are in transition. Maybe you are considering starting your own business or you’d like to bring more success and fulfillment to your current work.
The following will guide you through a process to clarify your career direction and obtain the results you truly desire. I invite you to begin your own journey of self- discovery. The first step, regardless of your present situation, is to clarify what you want. This seems like a very simple thing. In reality, it is very complex for most people.
Often, we feel caught in our survival needs and the stress of a situation, especially if it involves our livelihood. In panic, we revert to “fixing” the problem as fast as possible. That usually means looking in the newspaper and applying for job openings by fitting ourselves to the position offered. After months of personal disappointment and rejection, we are gratefully back to work. Ah, and again, here we are back in a familiar, but non-satisfying position. It hurts so badly, yet feels so safe. Oh, and here are the familiar headaches, upset stomach, anxiety, depression. Are there alternatives? Yes, self-evaluation — determining what you really want and going after it — is one positive alternative.
Through self-discovery, you will identify talents, gifts and natural abilities in very specific ways, and determine careers that most utilize these unique components. All accomplishments, knowledge, interests and experiences are considered in the process. Creating your ideal career is like putting together a puzzle. First, you need the pieces. At a certain point, the pieces come together — integrate — and you’re looking at the whole picture. This is when you arrive at your life’s work. From this point of strength, you design your career and continue the process. Here are seven steps to help you clarify your ideal career:
The first and most important step is to undertake a thorough self- exploration process. You’ll want to determine who you are as a unique individual and what you really want in your ideal career. A key is knowing the right questions to ask. You can begin this process by asking yourself what components you want in your ideal career. Example: flexible schedule, creativity, work with people, type of environment, skills utilized, interests. Be as specific as possible. If you’d like to be creative, how would you like to be creative? There are at least 60 ways to be creative. How do you like to help people? There are at least 101 ways to make a difference. (Call me if you would like to receive this specific information.)
2. Tailor it
Make a career taking into account what you want and key aspects of your personality, design a career for yourself. Look at all the options — standard career options and creative alternatives. Do you prefer finding a new job, staying in your present job and making it more ideal, or starting a business? There are 12,007 occupations listed in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Are you aware of all your career options? If not, you may want to obtain more information or seek professional guidance.
3. Overcome the Blocks to Your Success
Often, we have blocks and obstacles to achieving our goals. Usually a block or obstacle is a signal telling you that you need to attend to something. These blocks can be internal feelings, such as fear of failure, fear of success, self-criticism or self-doubt. Or they can be external facts, such as lacking necessary business skills, a plan of action or information about possible career choices. What is your block or obstacle telling you? Identifying and overcoming these blocks is a necessary part of making the transition to work you love.
At this stage, you will identify one to five career options that you wish to explore further. Gathering information by reading books and meeting with people in your fields of interest will help you be certain about the best career choice and help you to develop an effective plan of action.
5. Strategic Plan
After researching your career options, you decide on short-term and long-term goals and develop a step-by-step strategy to obtain these goals. Many people start with a dream and want to leap immediately from A to Z. In having an effective plan of action, you learn how to move from A to B to C to D, building gradually toward your goals. No matter what your circumstances, there is always a way to get started toward what you want.
6. Master the Skills to Get Your Ideal Job or Start a Business
In order to find work or develop a business, you must learn how to play the job/business game. Since only 10 percent of available jobs are listed in the want ads, learning to play the job game will greatly increase your chances of getting the job you want. Job skills include developing contacts, having an effective resume, learning to present yourself as the best candidate, mastering the art of successful interviewing and discovering “back-door” approaches to getting the job you want. For those seeking to start their own business, the skills includes developing a strong business idea, doing effective marketing and marketing research and developing a sound business plan.
7. Continue the Process Clarification
Achieving results is a continuing process. Keep referring to and using this process. You may, for example, need to continue self- discovery — redefining what truly matters to you.
In which of the above areas do you need to build your skills? All the seven steps outlined above are important in a successful career search. Finding work you love through this process takes effort and courage, yet it is a wise investment in yourself and your future happiness.
For most people, I recommend professional support, as it makes the process faster and easier. There are thousands of career options you may have never considered. Also, a professional can assist you with coaching to keep you focused and on track. People who are focused in their search for meaningful work stand the best chance of success in these times.