Heart has to be in your work

January 20, 2008

Q: I am unhappy at my work and don’t know how to find the right career path for me. I’m confused and afraid of accepting yet another job that merely becomes unsatisfying later. Should I go back to school for more specific training?

A: There are so many choices and a working life is decades long. Regardless of career trends, job titles or enticing incentives, if your heart’s not in your work, you’ll simply lack the staying power.

Focus on a direction you are drawn to — be it finance, medicine or technology. Don’t panic if you can’t pinpoint the ideal job. Instead, explore with an open mind what is possible and available in that field. Future careers can be built on the experience and expertise gained in other areas.

Know that many other factors, such as industry sector, company culture, management style and work environment, influence job satisfaction. Information interviews with people already on the job can foreshadow what lies ahead.

To discover what would sustain you over the long haul, explore questions such as the following:

PURPOSE: Upon my retirement, what contribution would I want to be remembered for?

PASSION: What tasks and activities do I enjoy? What bores me? What “causes” motivate and inspire me to action?

STRENGTHS: What are my unique talents? What are my key skills? What am I interested in developing further?

VALUES: What core values are essential for me in my professional life? For example, integrity, service, flexibility.

A mentor, coach or career counsellor can help connect your key motivators with suitable opportunities.

Originally printed in The Province, January 20, 2008.