You want a satisfying career. That's probably why you're reading this. It's safe to say that you want to work at something that provides an adequate income on which to live. But money isn't the only concern when it comes to a career. There's more to life than what you do for a living. Your health, your family and friends, and what you do in your downtime are vitally important to your overall well-being and your existence as a well-rounded person. With that said, this book is about careers and helping you find, adjust, and enhance yours so that it fits into that well-rounded existence. Ideally, your career should mesh with your desires — for success, fulfillment, accomplishment, whatever motivates you — which are unique and important to you.
Do you think your great-grandparents would recognize many of today's career options: Multimedia developer? Software engineer? Steganographer? Pet therapist? Genetic counselor? Perhaps the myriad opportunities overwhelm you, and you haven't settled on one yet. Maybe you feel dissatisfied or underappreciated in the career you currently have — even if it's one you trained long and hard to get. It's possible that you love your career but need a fresh challenge. You may just be wondering if your job situation is the best possible fit for you. How can you tell?
The answer lies in figuring out what you really want by assessing yourself and your situation right now. That status check will help you find out if you're in the best possible situation for you. It will even help you figure out what else is out there that might suit you. There are probably many options you haven't even thought of yet.
You don't have to wait until you're unhappy in your career to do a self-assessment. You wouldn't go to the doctor only when you have a life-threatening illness, would you? Nor should you evaluate your work situation only after things grow intolerable. In fact, that's probably the worst time to do it because desperation and unhappiness will cloud your judgment. Every five to ten years you should take the time to step back and re-evaluate where you are, where you're going, and how you're doing in terms of goals, benchmarks, satisfaction, fulfillment, and salary. Just as you check your pulse during aerobic activity to make sure it stays in the optimum range, so you should also check the pulse of your career to keep it humming along.
If there's one certainty in life, it's that people change. During the course of your working life you can be sure that your interests, desires, and life circumstances will change. These shifts will affect your career — the career you have as well as the career you want. You may need to make drastic career adjustments or you may not. Often all that you need is a little fine-tuning or a modest tweak or two. Perhaps you're ready to develop yourself as a manager, something you never would have considered a few years ago. Maybe it's time to launch your own entrepreneurial enterprise and be your own boss. On the other hand, you may feel that you are in the perfect career for you but want to ramp it up a notch. That should be very good news! What a relief to not be concerned with how green that grass is on the other side of the fence.
A few self-administered tests later, you could have clearer answers. After filling in the chart at the end of this book, you will have a better idea of where you are right now, where you're headed, and where to put the emphasis in your career trajectory. This book won't tell you what job to do or what career path you should take. The days of “trait and factor” career guidance are long gone. Instead, you will find things to adjust, things to overhaul, and new opportunities in which you can grow. You'll discover some surprising things about yourself that you didn't know before. You'll also have fun.
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Check out the next page and begin your exploration of the career that lies within you.