I’ve talked a lot recently about taking an inventory of your skills, and using this information to help you choose a career path. Now it’s time to go a little deeper.
Who are you? What motivates you? Where do your core interests lie? How do you interact with others? What are you afraid of, and how does it limit you? When you delve a little deeper into the “why” and “what” of yourself, you can make career-related decisions that will benefit not only you but those around you. Hint – (Trust that the how will come once you figure out the what!)
Where to start? Well, to start, having a positive mind set is contagious. When you have the mindset that you make a difference , you’re unique in your work and in your life, it gives you a sense of fulfillment you might not otherwise experience. This doesn’t have to mean that you’re touching millions of lives with your philanthropic work, or that you’re sharing your ideas with the world on national broadcast television. (Although if that’s your direction, go for it!) You’re making a difference as a, marketer, creative director or sales professional, by ensuring that a great new eco-friendly product reaches the consumers who will buy it. You’re making a difference as a CPA by ensuring that your clients don’t get bilked by the IRS. You’re making a difference as a restaurant manager by helping to give people a place where they can relax and enjoy the pleasures of succulent food and fully bodied wine. Everyone, from the janitor to the CEO, makes a difference in one way or another. It’s all in how you look at it.
If you’re feeling stuck in your current career or in your job search, you might be suffering from lack of inspiration. Perhaps you’re a people person, and your job keeps you stuck in a lonely cubicle. Maybe you’re a numbers guy—an Executor, if you read my e-zine article a few weeks ago (sign up here)— struggling in your role as a Creator, or a “big ideas” guy. When your passions aren’t engaged in your work, it’s hard to stay motivated.
So how do you develop self-awareness? Here are some ideas.
- What do you love to do? Do you harbor a secret passion for outdoor retreats? Are you a born marketer or have an eye for photography? Skilled with facilitating? Does the thought of travel make your heart beat faster, or do you prefer your own backyard? Make a list of your top ten activities; then, look for commonalities. If you thirst for adventure, you probably won’t feel fulfilled by a job that keeps you at your desk all day. On the other hand, if you prefer to have more career life balance, a job that requires a lot of travel might make you feel nervous and imbalanced.
- What did you love when you were a kid? What sports did you play, and why did you love them? Who were your favorite playmates (real or imaginary)? What were your favorite books and movies? Make a list of your top 10 childhood loves (or as many as you can remember), and look for the similarities. If you were a daydreamer, constantly lost in a land of fairy princesses and magic wands, chances are you won’t be content in a job that doesn’t require creative thinking in some capacity. If you were a builder, always digging in the dirt and building towers with Legos and Lincoln Logs, you might find fulfillment in a job where you can put your hands on concrete results.
- How do you deal with problems? Do you work things out through talking about them, or hashing them out on paper? Do you confront situations head-on, or are you afraid of confrontation? If you don’t like confrontation, the sales and marketing field may not be for you.
- What are your top priorities? Make a list of things that really matter to you, and put them in order. Some possibilities are security, family, achievement, recognition, independence, creativity, spirituality, and inner growth. Now, write down how you manifest these things. For example: “security” might mean simply having enough money to pay the bills, or it might mean leaving a financial legacy for your children and grandchildren. “Achievement” might mean winning a new client, or building something tangible for the world to see. Knowing what your basic priorities are can help you decide on a career direction. If you’re a person who relishes security and stability, a career as an international journalist might not be for you. If you crave independence, you may feel more fulfilled as an entrepreneur than you would in a corporate setting.
“Know thyself” is a well-used aphorism, but it’s a very true one. When you really know yourself, you can begin to make choices that speak to your deepest needs and wants. Once those needs and wants are met, you have more energy and drive to help your family, friends, and coworkers achieve their goals. You can make a difference, both in your own life and the lives of others, because you’re in tune with what drives you, and what sustains you.
Want to learn more about how coaching can help you work with your core values? I will offer more values-based exercises this month, so tune in to hear me LIVE on Fridays at 9:05 EST on http://www.wnri.com/. To download archives of the radio show, go to www.coachdq.com and click on the “quick links” section—Radio Shows/Podcasts. For values click on the show titled “Secrets from a Recruiter” Until next time. Make it a great one!