I was driving behind a bus the other day when I noticed a billboard which said, “Enjoy yourself…it’s important for your mental health”.
It sounds so obvious, right? Intuitively, we know we have to enjoy our lives. But how many of us battle through careers that don’t bring us any enjoyment? What is the point of dying with a million dollars in the bank if you suffered through every cent you earned? What is the point of doing that career that is expected of you just to end up disillusioned, unhappy and bitter towards the people you blame for making you do it?
The right career for you is the career that aligns with your values, strengths and purpose. A career aligned with your true self will always give you the greatest satisfaction.
What Is Purpose?
In my blog How to Find a Career You Love I talk about the five elements that contribute to human flourishing. Top of this list is purpose.
Purpose is finding a meaning in what you do, having a reason to pursue your goals, make an impact and pushing your own limits. Having a sense of purpose is like having an engine that allows you to get up every day to keep working, feeling comfortable with yourself and what you do.
Author and Senior lecturer in psychology, Steve Taylor, says finding purpose is key to feeling connected in your career.
“When you’re ‘in purpose’ – that is, engaged with and working towards your purpose- life becomes easier, less complicated and stressful,” said Dr Taylor.
What If I Don’t Know What Career Is Right for Me?
You probably know if your career is not right for you – your day to day tasks don’t bring you any joy, Monday mornings bring about feelings of dread, and worse, you live with prolonged stress or anxiety about your work. You know because you are “that” person who is always negative about your job or employer, you find yourself “whinging” all the time and your colleagues just roll their eyes when you go on your tearful rants.
In the best-case scenario, you justify you’re your distress because your salary is competitive maybe even excessive, so you say to yourself “I will grin and bear it”. Effectively you are destroying your soul if what you do does not reflect who you are, the emotional cost you pay is too high irrespective of the money you earn.
Recently, I spoke with a friend who is a lawyer earning fabulous money but by her own admission “the job isn’t doing it for me”. In other words, she is not working to her own purpose. After months of angst, soul searching and questioning “what is wrong with me?” she decided to leave law for a new, different role and in our most recent chat she said, with a massive smile, “the new job feels right”.
Many people ignore those unpleasant feelings and collect their pay cheque to pay the mortgage. But what you need to recognise is those feelings are red flags, it always means you’re in the wrong place or doing the wrong role.
How do I Pick the Right Career?
In my experience working with job seekers and career changers, many people feel lost and apprehensive when it comes to making career choices.
There a lot of factors that influence your choices: what you want, expectations of your family and friends, your cultural upbringing and even economic trends. Weighing up all these considerations can be stressful. Indeed, it may feel easier to live up to other people’s expectations than put in the mental energy to work out your purpose.
The reality is, making this major decision is a journey of self-discovery and the process can be just as interesting as the end result. It has to do with learning who you are, what you are good at, what makes you feel connected to your work and yourself and what brings you joy and satisfaction.
It doesn’t matter if you are a recent graduate entering the workforce for the first time, or someone looking to make a career change, these three steps will help you discover the right career for you.
1. Reflect on yourself
When was the last time you paused for a moment and thought about your true self? If you’ve been pushing away your true feelings and just getting on with the job, chances are you’ve lost sight of who you really are. Here is an easy exercise you can do on your own that help you work out your true self
• What is important to you?
• What are your strengths?
• What kind of tasks do you enjoy and which ones do you really dislike?
• What kind of work environment do you prefer?
If you find it hard to paint an accurate picture of yourself, ask people who know you for their perceptions. If you’ve experienced other jobs think about what factors made those jobs enjoyable.
This first step will give you a good foundation to assess your preferences and career options.
2. For an Objective View use Personality Profiling
Life is hectic. When it comes to big decisions, such as career choices, many of us tend to rely on other people’s opinions. When there are kids to feed and jobs to do, the exercise of looking at yourself in the mirror ends up down the list of priorities. Often, you end up making the decision based on a projection of yourself that has been drawn by your friends and family.
Their vision of a suitable career for you is not to be disregarded. It’s actually a key part in acknowledging who you are. However, it is subjective and often based on opinion, rather than fact. This is where career-oriented personality tests can be useful.
Personality tests can bring to light strengths you, your family and friends have overlooked. For example, you may be very good an organising but you don’t consider this a career skill. Or you may be very creative at home but you work in a job that doesn’t allow you to use your flair. Every part of your character is significant and can help you find the right career.
A good assessment tool should not only help you to discover what are you good at but also show you what you can actually do with those skills and personality characteristics.
There are many tools out there but as a professional career coach, my preference is the Career Navigation Report produced by the Harrison Assessment Talent System, which I use with my clients. This personalised and interactive assessment tool provides predictive insight into career enjoyment and career success by assessing 175 relevant factors and then compares the results with 650 careers.
It’s more than a test. It allows you to play and interact with the results and provides you with career options that best suit you, encouraging you to open your mind to new opportunities. The Career Navigation Report is remarkably accurate in matching you to your dream job.
3. Draft a Plan to Achieve your Desired Career
Now that you have taken a career focused personality test, what’s next?
It’s important to plan the course of action you need to take in order to achieve your ideal career. Brain storming ideas, searching for opportunities and allocating a timeframe for each stage are all important parts of the process.
A professional career coach will offer support by helping you to understand and interpret your test results and to explore and discuss your options. More importantly, a coach can help you to transform your test results into a structured plan that helps you to step into your ideal career path.
The purpose of my career is to inspire and coach you to achieve your career goals, so that you can lead a rewarding and satisfying work life. Among my services, I structure personalised one on one programs and together, we craft the career that fits you. A career conversation will be helpful to you if you are looking to have more clarity about your next move.
I invite you to click on the BOOK NOW button below to schedule your free, 45-minute Career Strategy Conversation.
For more information about how to find the right career for you:
• FutureU Coaching Harrison Career Guide
• How to Know When You’ve Found Your Purpose in Life
• Oprah Explains the Difference Between a Career and a Calling
• Consider a change in career
• Aussie careers no longer a fixed path as life long learning provides opportunities for change
• Interview with 5 inspirational career changers
• Career transitions are possible at any age