If you’ve been working for a while, you may feel that something is missing, that maybe your career is going in one direction and your life is drifting off in another.
It happens. While a recent CNBC survey found that most Americans are content with their jobs (77 percent are satisfied with their bosses, 69 percent like their salaries and 82 percent are happy with their co-workers), there are those who feel a mismatch with their life’s goals and the career they’ve chosen.
The problem arises when we allow others to guide our career and life choices. Maybe your dad wanted you to become a lawyer or your buddy said you should join her in that high tech startup. Or maybe your girlfriend wanted you to go into advertising. Some people just follow a path they later regret or find unfulfilling. Unless you set your own path, you’ll lead a pretty stressful and unhappy life.
Connect and Change
If you’ve reached a crossroads in your career, there are things you can do to change course and find the work life balance you need to feel fulfilled. One way is by networking through recreational activities, volunteer groups and similar social organizations. These should be activities that you really enjoy, where you’ll find like-minded individuals with whom you can share career goals. Habitat for Humanity has all sorts of ways you can help and meet people. You may decide your life’s calling leans in this direction and find a career helping people.
Mind Tools, a skill building organization that helps match job seekers with their personal goals, offers the following guidelines to help you set effective, achievable goals:
- Write goals down. This takes them out of your mind and into the real world of action items. Express your goals positively. I will do so and so; not, I will avoid this or that.
- Be precise. Add specific dates to your career/life goals. Use metrics to measure your success at each step. Doing this gives you the confidence and satisfaction to move ahead step by step until you’ve attained your goal.
- Set priorities. Assign priorities to your life/career goals. If you want to be VP, attach a priority to it; if you want to spend more time with your family or do volunteer work, give it a priority. This will help you focus on what’s really important to you and keep you from becoming overwhelmed if you find yourself with too many goals.
- Take small steps. Break up your goal into small easily achievable steps. Listing your goal as one giant step will seem insurmountable. Reward yourself at each upward step.
- Set performance goals, not outcome goals. The goal should be—I’ve done everything I can to prepare myself for the VP post; not, I’m going to get promoted to VP, an outcome over which you may have little control in these tough economic times. Tying your goals to personal performance gives you control over their achievement.
- Be realistic. Parents, media, or society sometimes set benchmarks that are unrealistic and virtually unachievable. They ignore your talents, abilities, desires and life situation. Can you really be a globetrotting CEO with a perfect body and devote the time you need to your family? The media may think so, but you know better.
Dissatisfied with your career? Take steps now to re-direct and find your true calling.
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