Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two Questions You Need To Consider Before Beginning Your Job Search

Author and journalist Sydney J. Harris once wrote, “Ninety percent of the world's woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves.”

Are you a stranger to yourself? Before answering that question, I think it’s wise to answer the question, are you happy in your chosen profession? If you can answer that with either a yes or a no, then you’re off to a good start. At least you know that much. And that much is the beginning of today’s topic.

Many of you are in jobs you hate. Fear, the culprit of culprits, has probably sculpted your path, and directed you into a career that “made sense”, seemed “practical”. Unfortunately, some of you—if you get real and truthful with yourself—know that “sensible & practical” are code words for boring and not our real joy.

Work should not be boring and a disappointing experience. Life is too short. Instead, you need to have the courage to begin searching for the work that will make you honestly happy. Such work is most likely that which you can say provides a real and valuable gift to society. Of course, such can be only tiny in its offering, but generally, if you are doing what you love, the benefits to society will absolutely ripple through.

Even if it’s only your personality that becomes the gift. An unhappy person in work, usually spreads misery in all the places they visit.

So stop spreading the sad! Instead, as you prepare for your job search, consider these two questions:
  1. What do you want?
  2. Who are you?
Sound simple, yes? Sound difficult, yes? You’re right in both regards. These question are both the most simple and most difficult questions to answer. But, unless you’re willing to struggle through and answer them, you’re going to keep making the same choices in your career life.

Of course, making the same choices is okay if you are a) currently happy, or b) love misery. As you’ve most likely heard before, doing the same thing over and over again expecting something different is an idiots tomfoolery. Stop doing that! Answering these question can help.

When you look for a job, most usually consider only jobs they know, then write a resume, and apply. Then wait. Like fishers without a clue of what you are fishing for, or even if there are fish to be caught, you wait. You hope, pray, and wait some more until a compassionate company comes along and grants you a good enough job you need so you can pay bills, etc.

Stop that! Instead, before updating your resume, before digging around for job leads, grab yourself a pad of paper, a few sharp pencils, make your way down to a coffee shop, find a quiet table, sit down and begin to write.

Write a story about your ideal life. Write a story about your past. Write a story about where you thought you’d be going when you were a child. Writing stories like this—don’t worry about grammar or interest to others—will jog your memory. It will provide you a real picture of both who you are and where you really want to be going.

Doing these exercises will put before you pieces of yourself you might have never given time to think about.

I remember a story about a girl who worked for a hospital. She worked there during college to find out if that was what she wanted to do. While working there, she had an assignment similar to the one I describe. After writing it, it became very apparent to her that she was a very willing person, that she was filled with compassion, and that she was eager to learn and develop herself.

That knowledge led her out of her sensible plan to become a nurse, and into a new path of becoming a family psychologist.

The girl in this story often wonders what would have happened had she remained on her original path—which was to become a nurse. She believes she would have liked it, but that it would have been less than her best. Working as a family psychologist is something she’s passionate about.

The point is that from writing her story, she was able to work out parts of herself that helped her guide her on her way.

Of course this is just an example. Still, each of you, if you take time to write your stories, can gain valuable insight into yourself. The insight you gain can help you stop making the same choices in your career. Life is too short, and you deserve to be happy. So before you start considering your next job search, ask and answer for yourself these questions. It might mean a whole new life, and a whole new smile.

Until next time…

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