Updated: Jul 7
Steps to find your dream career!
Amidst the Coronavirus chaos we are all enduring, it's a great time to undergo a Career Tune-Up. Time to check under the hood and make some adjustments to help us run smoother and longer. Perhaps the job you had before this crisis is gone, or maybe the occasional tug that this is not the job you dreamed of has surfaced in this more reflective time.
First, inspect your vehicle
Jot down your assessment of these four critical areas:
Check your steering fluid- Your intuition is like your car's steering fluid. It guides you and ensures smooth, noise-free turns. Do you come home most days exhausted? Do you dread the week to come every Sunday? Do you daydream of a different life? No job is 100% fun and frivolity, but if many days are frustrating, perhaps that's just too many.
Inspect the chassis- Our skills and talents are our chassis. They hold us up and form the backbone that differentiates us. List what you believe your top five skills are regardless of whether you are at work or at play. Maybe you are creative or analytical or social? Are you technical, musical, or a great salesperson? Does your current job tap those skills?
Maintain the exterior?- Our personality shines through. Some of us are sedans, others family vans or sports cars. The exterior reflects our personality. Similarly, we should assess our own personality. Am I more of an introvert (yes, I can socialize and share my views, but I need breaks and get energy from within) or an extrovert (I need to socialize and I tend to be the more gregarious person in most conversations)? Do I tend to be a generalist (I like to know a bit about many things, I like change, and I can get bored doing the same things all the time) or a specialist (I prefer to be the expert with deep knowledge and deep roots)? Does your current job align with these facets of your personality?
Change the air filter- Like an air filter that protects your engine, adhering to your core values protects you. List five core values. A recent blog provides some good tips. What drives you every day? What leads you in making decisions, regardless of whether you are at work or at home, whether someone else is watching or not. Here's a handy list of values to spark your thoughts. Does your current job satisfy your values? I've found whenever I'm not aligned with my values, my degree of productivity and happiness sink.
So if you feel your job is misaligned with your intuition, skills, personality, or values, it's time to consider your options. Life is too short to be unhappy. And your health is likely suffering. I was a frequent visitor to my primary when I was misaligned. He tried to treat the symptoms of sciatica, rashes, weight gain, and shingles, but he couldn't "cure" me. Only I could do that by alleviating some of the stresses of work. These changes are scary. But there are so many different roles, jobs, and fields out there. Several can provide you the satisfaction you deserve.
Second, perform your personal tune-up
You've found that some changes are necessary. Now what?
Take that piece of paper with your Intuition, Skills, Personality, and Values. Consider the tasks you most like to do at work, at home, at your place of worship, in the community. What types of activities use your skills and are aligned with your personality and values? Which tasks are your spark plugs - the activities you are most passionate about? Which activities make you giddy with anticipation? There is little tension in your body when you are doing these tasks.
Some may suggest, "This is work! It's not supposed to be fun. You hippies think you can play through life and have all the rewards" (ok, maybe I'm going too far). The world does need and value your talents. This doesn't have to be nirvana, with harps strumming and angels singing all the time. But if chasing money and promotions is at the top of your job evaluation criteria, you are destined for disappointment. I know. I did this for much of my career until my health and happiness had deteriorated and I finally found paths to satisfaction and passion that still provided for my family.
This gift of time many of us have stumbled upon lately can change your life.
You should list several activities in Step Two. This is where you want to focus your search. Once you understand the tasks that rock your world, think broadly and without limitations at what jobs might enlist these skills and spark your passions.
Upon reflection rather late in my career, I realized my passions and skills revolved around team-building and staff mentoring. This aligned well with my values of teaching and learning, along with responsibility and determination. As an introvert and career generalist, I needed to find the right environment to utilize my skills while accommodating my reserved style. Once I found that match, my health and happiness soared. Sometimes we must go through this difficult journey to find the satisfaction we all deserve.
This post doesn't end with an answer. We are all too complex and there are way too many options to derive a formula that spits out the answer. However, this gift of time many of us have stumbled upon lately can change your life. This pandemic certainly is teaching us we all deserve to be happy and healthy - life can be too short.
Or maybe it's time for a trade-in
Is retirement for me? How do I know?
Having retired a couple of years ago, I would forewarn you that this lockdown is not the same as retirement. And that's generally a good thing. I'm a big advocate of retiring as soon as it is feasible. Feasibility, however, depends on each individual's circumstance.
Do you have the financial wherewithal to retire and maintain your desired lifestyle? What will keep you busy? It is retirement, not work. That's the whole point. But you can't sit around watching TV all day. And you can't golf all day either. It's best to have a variety of things to keep you busy which can include hobbies, travel, volunteer work, or perhaps part-time consulting.
Put together your list. What have you always wanted to do? What did you do earlier in life (before kids, marriage, work...) that you'd like to reunite with? What gratification do you receive at work (social interaction, structure, recognition) that you will miss and how can you recreate that in the world of retirement? These questions must be answered first. I know too many people that were bored before scurrying back to work, or worse yet withering away before dying prematurely.
Pre-Coronavirus, my days usually involved exercise, brunch with my wife, writing, reading, projects with the kids, occasional yard work, family visit vacations, and one or two annual travels from our bucket list. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. Nevermore so than in retirement.
Get the Inspection Sticker
Whether you are content at home or climbing the walls during the lockdown, now is a great time to reflect. You may confirm you are in a great job or perhaps it's the catalyst for change. I encourage everyone to take a bit of the extra time we have been gifted and bring ourselves in for a tuneup. You will run smoother and with peace of mind for well over 3 months or 3,000 miles.
The Beyond Introversion blog has been named to Feedspot.com's Top 50 Blogs for Introverts, debuting at #20!
We all need courage in a time like this...
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