What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up?

Got a few hundred minutes? I hope so, because it’s going to take time to follow today’s advice.  Instead of focusing on job search tactics, like interviewing and networking, let’s hone in on the bigger issues, like What do I want to do when I grow up?

          If you are a grownup and are still asking this question, whatever job you’ve been doing hasn’t been very satisfying.

Hmmm. Not satisfying. Some folks say if you’re making a living at whatever you’re doing, you don’t have to like it, just be satisfied that it puts food on the table. But that isn’t enough. When the Louis Harris polling organization asks American employees what they want in a job, given the choices of good pay, good hours, a chance at promotion, a chance to make a difference, and job security, an overwhelming number choose, “a chance to make a difference.”

The majority of people who call me want to learn how to find a job that’s a better match than the one they have. They say that getting a paycheck isn’t enough. They want to do something that matters. They want intrinsic rewards as well as financial returns.

How can you discover opportunities that bring out the best in you as well as return energy to you? Start with the Carpenter’s Rule: Measure twice, cut once. Think before you act. You don’t like your job? You don’t like your boss? Your customers? Your product? The company you work for? Or the company you keep? Identify what’s not working and you’ll figure out what will:

“My boss acts like I don’t exist. Instead of telling me what he expects, he thinks I should figure it out on my own. My co-workers are busy, so they can’t help me. I try to look like I know what I’m doing despite the fact that I don’t have a clue. I need to quit before I get fired.”

This person sounds like she can succeed in team situations where the boss is clear about expectations, gives directions in an organized, sequential manner, and provides hands-on- training.

“Here’s my deal: My boss micromanages me. She tells me what I need to do, how I need to do it, and when I need to get it done. She is constantly checking on me, second-guessing me, and making my life miserable. I have to get out of here before I scream!”

This person sounds like an independent self-starter who wants to know the goal and the deadline and wants to get there on her own. She won’t succeed in “any” job; she wants one that gives her room to learn, stretch and grow.

You won’t know what the right job provides unless you know what the wrong job denies:

“I’m bored. I do the same thing every day. Where’s the challenge?”

“I’m bored. The work is challenging but the people I work with, aren’t.”

“I’m good at sales. I sell widgets. I don’t want to sell widgets.”

“I’m not good at sales. I like widgets but I can’t sell them.”

“I’m good at my job but embarrassed to be associated with my company.”

“I’m proud of my company and don’t want to embarrass them by doing a bad job.”

Job changers make bad situations worse when they blame others for their predicament rather than take responsibility for the choices they’ve made. They repeat history when they go on interviews and oversell their weaknesses while ignoring their strengths. They stay in the ditch when they say whatever it takes to win a job, without considering the penalties of winning the wrong one.

If you take time to plan each of the steps you take, before you take them, making yourself aware of the likely consequences of your choices, you’ll be more in control of your outcomes.

Here are some basic questions for you to answer:

  • What are my personal, professional, and financial career goals?
  • What is my time-table?
  • What internal and external obstacles must I overcome?
  • What support systems, advice, and training do I need?
  • How will I measure success?

It takes time, curiosity, self- awareness, and patience to do it right. It’s worth the effort.

* * * *

Yes! You may use this article in your blog, newsletter or website as long as you include the following bio box:

Joyce Richman (www.joycerichman.com) has been specializing in executive and career coaching since she started her own practice in 1982. She works in a variety of environments including: higher education, manufacturing, sales, marketing, media, technology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, banking and finance, service, IT, and non-profit sectors. A member of the adjunct faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, Joyce is certified to administer a number of feedback and psychological instruments. Joyce has appeared regularly on WFMY-TV and is the career columnist for The Greensboro News & Record. She is the author of Roads, Routes and Ruts: A Guidebook to Career Success and co-author of Getting Your Kid Out of the House and Into a Job. A popular speaker, Richman conducts seminars and workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Her coaching profile can be found at TheCoachingAssociation.com.