Saturday, January 10, 2009

Career Inklings from Columbia

Take a Bird’s Eye View of Your Career
By Janet M. Ruck

As jobs become less certain and unemployment numbers rise, it can be difficult to see any positive outcomes or possibilities. Some mental health professionals have advised that we limit our time watching the news, because of the stress resulting from the helplessness we feel as we see the daily turmoil unfold. Yet, there are some who are using this tumultuous time to take the opportunity to view their careers differently, and maybe even take action. Faced with the reality of furlough or termination, some individuals look upon this as a time to re-evaluate choices they’ve made, the direction they’ve taken and perhaps totally change their job or career. Perhaps you’ve thought that the career path you have followed no longer aligns with your interests. Maybe you’re bored with your work, or it doesn’t make the best use of your talents. Are you gliding along, free as a bird, achieving your goals? Or is every day a chore, drudgery to be tolerated, happy just to have a job? This might be a fine time for you to step back and get a “bird’s eye view” of your career.

Sometimes a job’s sole purpose is financial and providing for family is the goal. This is certainly a vital component of going to work every day. But if you’ve been looking for more from your job, and you are ready to find work that gives your life new meaning, then this might be a good time to ask yourself a few questions. Without editing your responses or thinking too much about them as you write, quickly answer the following:

1. What have I always dreamed of doing?
2. Is my current reality aligned with my long-held dreams?
3. Do I see the outcome of my efforts in a meaningful and positive way?
4. Have my achievements been analogous with my goals?
5. Am I able to use my strengths to my and my employer’s advantage?

If your responses make you feel uneasy, this could be the time for you to take steps to infuse new meaning into your work or to view your work differently or maybe even to set your sights on a different career path. If you are working, some suggestions are:

• assist in projects that align with your interests
• change the way you function to better utilize your strengths
• take on different work assignments
• volunteer in your community
• mentor, teach, train others

If you are not working, reflect on your answers to questions 1-5 as you consider your next steps. Professional advice and guidance from a career counselor is also an option. For a list of professional career counselors, visit the website of the National Career Development Association (

For many people, crisis equals opportunity. During these turbulent times, when it comes to your career, this may be the time for you to take a risk, spread your wings, and soar!

1 comment:

jurgen Wolff said...

Great advice. Another useful method is to go back to when you were a child or teen-ager, or even college student full of dreams about your future. What were those dreams? Do they still resonate? If you've abandoned them but would like to find them again, have an imaginary dialogue with your younger self. It can be very helpful and revealing.