“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: They try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”
~ Margaret Young ~
Annie Asks: The job I have is not satisfying. I’ve been doing it for over twelve years. I don’t know what I like to do. How do I figure this out and find a career that is fulfilling for me?
Joel Answers: For most people, changing careers is a process, not an overnight, snap decision. You know you are unsatisfied in your current position, and you’re exploring your options. That’s the first—and often the hardest—step in the process. The good news is that you can change careers at any age or stage in your career. Whether you’re changing careers at 30 or 45, the process is still the same. Here are some tips to help you discover your dream job, regardless of how old you are or how long you’ve been in your current position.
- Think about what you really love to do.
For now, don’t try to make this work or career-related. Don’t think about what kind of work you love to do; think about what you love to do in your free time. Do you garden? Spend time with your grandkids? Putter around in your workshop? What really makes you happy? Any one of these things could be the foundation of a new career. What is it that you do in your own time that really makes your heart sing?
- Consider ways to make what you love into a career.
Once you have determined what makes you happy, think of ways that you might be able to turn that activity into a new career. If you love to garden, you could start a nursery, go to work for a greenhouse, become a landscaper, or even teach others about gardening. If you love spending time with your grandkids, you might enjoy working with other people’s children as well. A career as a teacher or daycare director might be right up your alley. For the workshop hobbyist, making and selling handcrafted furniture can be extremely fulfilling and profitable.
- Get help from a career coach.
If you’ve tried coming up with ways to turn one of the things you love into a career but you’re still stuck, consider turning to a career coach for help. A good coach will guide you through the career change process and help you find the right career for you.
If you’re unhappy in your career, the time to get started searching for a new career is now. Even if you’re just 30 or 35, changing careers is hard, but as you get older, it gets even harder. If you’re young now, don’t wait until you’re 45 or 50 to think about changing careers. Older workers often face more of a challenge starting over in a new career due to reluctance on the part of employers to hire an older worker to fill an entry-level position.
If you are changing careers in mid-life or later, first read my article, “5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pursuing Your Dream Job,” then consider ways that you might be able to combine aspects of your old job with your new career. For example, if you are a sales manager now, you might have an easier time changing industries if you accept a position in sales in that industry first, then pursue the position you really want after you’ve gained some experience in the industry.
Do you need help finding your dream job? Fill out the career assessment on the Dream Job Coaching website to receive a personalized response from Joel.
Talkback: Are you in the process of making a career change or have you successfully completed one? Tell us about it below or leave a question for a future Q&A with Joel.
Are you trying to find your dream job? One approach is to have a solid online presence and online marketing strategy. With that said, how you project yourself online can make or break your job search efforts. Here are 3 deadly mistakes you can’t afford to make when using the Internet to find your dream job:
- Relying on just online marketing. If you think applying to hundreds of jobs online gives you a better chance of landing your dream job, you’re dead wrong. Imagine thousands of applicants aspiring for the same job–this could spell disaster for you and for the employer who posted the job. Could this mean many employers may choose not to post the job online? From my experience I know this: the best jobs are never posted but are found through networking and contacts. That’s something to think about.
- Focusing on quantity not quality. There are literally hundreds of social media portals out there. Trying to post your online profile on all of them is like spreading your net out as wide as you can but not catching anything at the end of the day. A better approach is to focus on building your online profile on some of the most populare and well-respected sites out there. LinkedIn is a good example. Focus on one or two sites to demonstrate your skills, experience, make contacts and build positive relationships in your industry.
- Playing the waiting game. One of the worst things you can do is to build your online profile and NOT do anything after that. Don’t assume people will land on your profile, contact you and hand you your dream job on a silver platter. You’ve got to work hard with online networking. Connect with people offline and tell them to connect with you on LinkedIn, for example. Join industry-related groups and be a part of the conversation. Leave helpful comments on other people’s posts. Demonstrate that you’re an expert in your niche. All of this will help increase your visibility at work, which just might catch the eye of a headhunter or your future employer.
Understand that without a doubt, potential recruiters are going to look you up online. Maintaining a strong online profile is essential to finding your dream job. However, a successful job search program or plan does not only involve having an online presence and using online marketing.
Traditional methods like using influence, getting others to perceive you positively, and building your brand are equally if not more important to get ahead in your career.
So the next time you connect with someone online, also remember to network face-to-face, recruit a person of influence to hand-deliver your resume to the HR manager, and assume that your prospective employer will be conducting a search for you on Google. With all the right elements put into place you’ll be well on your way to finding the job of your dreams.
“When we dream we make meaning of life, discover the essence of ourselves, truly grow up, and most importantly, model for children how to dream.”
~ Whitney L. Johnson ~
Years ago, an associate of mine was working in a job that had already made him more money than most Americans earn in a lifetime. Right out of college, he landed a position with a major tech company and helped design several iterations of the world’s leading networking equipment.
Some might call my associate’s career a study in success—a perfect example of how a smart, hard-working, enterprising individual could still do great things in America. Only, the man wasn’t happy. In fact, he was miserable. He was tired of networks and technology and wished his life had taken a different direction. In other words, he felt trapped.
He was also paralyzed by fear. He attributed most of his success to luck, circumstances, and youthful enthusiasm. More than halfway through his life, how could he dramatically change its trajectory, yet still meet all of his financial obligations? More importantly, did he have what it took to do something new?
The man eventually hired me as a career coach, and several months later he made the transition into a C-level position at a leading nonprofit organization. When he and I reflected on his success, he said, “I think it’s the questions we discussed, the ones right at the beginning, that made it all possible. Once I realized I could answer them all in the affirmative, I knew I had what it took to make a change.”
Those questions are reproduced here:
- Can you invest hours of your free time in learning something new? Most people’s dream job—whether it’s a director of marketing, a boarding school history teacher, or a chief information officer—requires a high degree of expertise in a diverse set of specialized skills. Those skills take time, effort, and intentional practice to master.
- Are you willing to accept rejection? It’s the extremely rare individual who lands his or her dream job on the first interview. Just as J. K. Rowling received dozens of rejection letters before having her first Harry Potter manuscript accepted, most dream job seekers will have to deal with being turned away by HR.
- Do you know how to talk with people? Whether it’s fair or not, few people will recognize your expertise and value if you don’t introduce yourself to them. Old-fashioned networking is essential to landing most dream jobs. The more people know or hear about you, the more likely they will be to hire you—or point you in the direction of the perfect opportunity.
- Can you discipline your thinking and achieve emotional detachment? For most people, one of the biggest barriers to landing their dream job is self doubt. The human subconscious has a negativity bias by default, which leads us to constantly question our plans. Thankfully, practice and mindfulness can transform our thinking and dramatically decrease self doubt.
- Are you willing to put happiness above money? According to psychological researchers, earning more than $75,000 per year (adjusted for local COL) doesn’t contribute to the average American’s overall level of emotional well-being. While not every dream job comes with a pay cut, some do; others may require substantial education or relocation costs.
If you’re interested in reading more about landing your dream job, my friend Whitney Johnson has a new book out titled Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream, which is available at bookstores nationwide, as well as on all major online retailers, including Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound.
Talkback: Are you working at your dream job, or is it “just a job”? How would you answer the five questions above? Are you willing to do what it takes to start pursuing your dream job?
Passion is not something you are born with, yet it defines who you are. Developed from a combination of your interests, your inspirations, and whatever truly motivates and excites you, you are the only one who can decide what you are genuinely passionate about.
How intense your passion is towards something directly correlates to the level of fulfillment you get from doing that task. This is why those who are truly passionate about what they do don’t think of work as “work.”
How would you rate your level of passion in your job?
If your current job is leaving you burned out, tired, and exhausted at the end of the day, think about what you like to do outside of work—your hobbies or interests. Studies suggest that 65% of people do not like their current job. Money can be one of the biggest limitations to finding your true passion, especially when you’ve got to put food on the table.
If money was not an objective, what would you be doing to bring you the most happiness? Once you know what gives you the most fulfillment, see if you can’t find a job you’re passionate about or an opportunity that supports and fuels your passion. Passion is essential to reach your true potential and be the best that you can be.
If you are passionate about what you do, you can use that passion to get ahead. Learn how you can use passion to grow as a leader and gain loyal followers in your industry, and find out how the wrong kind of passion can work against you.
Do you want to find passion in the job you already have? Order your downloadable copy of Love Your Work and reach new levels of fulfillment in your current job.