In November 2015, statistics showed that around 121.9 million people were employed on a full-time basis in the United States. That’s a lot of people working full-time. However, other studies show that over 50% of Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. Too many people are not in the right fit in their careers. So how can you find your place in the world of work?
Transform how you think.
There are a few mistakes that many professionals make when it comes to their job satisfaction. Many balance being unhappy with the fact that they are getting a good paycheck. Others are in a job because their family chose their career path for them. Still others had a natural talent and decided they were good at a certain job and stuck with it, even though they didn’t truly enjoy it.
While a steady paycheck and being good at your job are absolutely critical to your well-being, to find the right career fit, it’s more important to ask yourself what you actually want to do and what works for you first. Then you need to balance the answer with being practical. If you do this — start with fulfillment — you will find a career path that not only pays your bills but also fits your practical needs.
If you brainstorm career ideas based on compensation first, for example, it will limit your thinking. If you start with what you would enjoy, then add in your practical needs, you will get closer to finding something you truly feel rewarded by. This will enable you to think outside the box and come up with additional career ideas, and allow you to balance the practical with the passion rather than compromise the passion completely for the practical.
Let me be clear here: This isn’t Pollyanna, and everything isn’t perfect. You will have to make compromises, but when you have a choice about where to compromise, and actively make that choice, it makes a big difference in your sense of satisfaction at work. No job is always going to be perfect. What we are going for is finding a job where the good so far outweighs the bad that we hardly notice the bad or difficult parts of our position.
Action Tip: Identify your current attitude towards your job. How do you feel about it? Do you fall into any of the categories above, where you’re trading fulfillment for a high paycheck? Is that OK with you? If it’s not, ask yourself what you would want if you focused first on enjoyment or fulfillment. Make a list of those things, then for each one, think about if and how you can incorporate those items into your current career path for greater reward. If you can’t, then consider if you are willing to make a career transition.
Find your authentic self.
To find your place in the business world, it’s also important to align your career with authenticity. This is a process that is focused on you first — your values, priorities, and skills. Doing this allows you to find out what has deep meaning for you personally and whether you can incorporate that into your current career path. To find fulfillment in your career, you have to feel authentic at work. Too many people feel like they have to become someone else at work, which leads to immense dissatisfaction.
Action Tip: Write down your career values, what is important for you to have present in your work every day (the type of people you want to work with, the culture, types of tasks you want to perform), and which skills you want to leverage at work on a regular basis. Then identify which items are present in your current job and which are not. Star the ones that are not present and think about whether you can incorporate them somehow into your current position.
Expand your thinking.
After you’ve completed the steps above, if you’ve determined it’s time to make a career change because you cannot incorporate what you want into your current job, then you need to brainstorm alternative career paths. You can do this by using keywords from what you jotted down so far regarding your interests, values, talents, and anything else above.
Create a list of five to seven keywords you can use to start brainstorming possible career ideas. For example, if you value education, it can go on your list; you can also add mentoring and training or professional development. If a natural talent for you is working with numbers, perhaps you write down “data analysis” or “financial analyst.” As you create your list it’s important to pick out keywords that would make sense to plug into Google or a job search website — like “financial analysis” or “math,” not “a good boss.” That won’t pull up anything related to a career idea necessarily.
Once you have identified your keywords, plug them into Google. For example, “careers in math” or “careers related to data analysis.” You can also make good use of job boards, like Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com, and other websites, such as mypursuit.com and myplan.com, to help you brainstorm.
Develop your list of ideas and make sure to keep it organized. A great way to do so is in an Excel sheet with tabs for each possible career path you come up with. Another great way to get ideas is to ask friends and family to brainstorm with you. Take care to filter their suggestions; don’t go with what they say it if doesn’t work for you.
Action Tip: Using the list you made in the last tip, identify which of those values or skills would make relevant keywords to plug into job boards or Google. Create a system to stay organized as you brainstorm.
Be willing to take a risk.
Keep in mind that there is always risk involved when you try something new or work to achieve a new goal. For example, you may step into a job you may not feel 100% qualified for, you might have to take a class to learn a new skill, or you may end up deciding your new career path is in a different industry than you’ve been in before. You may find you need a transition/stepping-stone job to get to the dream job. Remember, risk is part of the deal. Keep in mind that successful people don’t avoid obstacles; they know how to overcome them. Michael Jordan said, “If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
Action Tip: Don’t let the fear of risk hold you back. Start now by identifying one step you can take this week to find your place in the world of work.
Guest Blogger Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her team's career coaching services. Set up a Complimentary Career Strategy Session with Hallie Crawford to get advice on your career goals. *Mention you saw us on Talent Zoo and receive a free bonus if you purchase a product or sign up for coaching.*