When you were a kid, what did you dream of growing up to be?
This may sound obvious, but before you can find the career you really want, you have to know what you are seeking. Career planning is a delicate process. The work we do, as well as where we do it (our work environment), have a huge impact on our ability to experience life and career success.
Too often when asked to define an ideal career, people think immediately about salary and benefits. As a result, there are plenty of people who earn a great living with exceptional benefits, but hate their jobs and are very unhappy.
A job you really want can’t be based on financial criteria alone. And, with a few exceptions, the industry is often not as important as the actual day-to-day activities. If a “great” job does not allow you the opportunity to do what you love and nurture your natural talents, it is probably not the ideal job for you.
Understanding and discovering natural talents is an important key to a successful job search. Finding our talents helps us uncover those things that we love and enjoy, and nurturing those at which we excel. Discovering our talents also helps us figure out the areas where we do not excel – the things that make us unhappy and leave us feeling unfulfilled. When you waste your natural abilities you often end up stuck doing something you hate. It is important to weed out those skills you dislike and find out what it is you really love.
Effective career planning means figuring out the specific criteria and values you want the job to fulfill. By this we mean it is important to consider those daily activities that are going to make the best use of your natural skills and talents? Consider this:
• If you are an outgoing person and a job isolates you from interacting with other people all day, it is not for you.
• If you are orderly and find yourself in a work environment that is chaotic, you will wear out over time.
• If you work well with only occasional supervision, a job where you’re micromanaged will be annoying.
Knowing who you are is key to finding the right job for you. Ask yourself some self-reflective questions. Define the criteria that make up your “perfect” job. What’s important to you in the work you do? What brings you satisfaction? What expectations do you have for work-life balance? What natural skills and talents do you have?
You’ll also want to consider the answers to questions like:
• Part-time or full-time?
• Flexibility or consistency (both in hours and tasks)?
• Amount of interaction with others?
• Specific skills you want to use?
• Do you like to make decisions or follow procedure?
Answering these questions is the first step in finding the path that will lead you to ultimate career satisfaction. When we are doing what we love, we are often performing at our best. This leads to a kind of fulfillment that allows us to live life passionately and happily.