Life Improved: Career

Want to feel good about your career? Many people desire a satisfying career, and with good reason. A career that fits well is a luxury that enhances life overall. In addition to monetary resources gained through work, a good-fitting career fuels self-development and self-confidence. It is a main avenue for continued learning and development. Through the work you do every day, you demonstrate where you are willing to focus. Finding work to focus on that meshes superbly with your inner nature and what you want to experience maximizes your personal power, creativity, and freedom.

Sometimes people are surprised to realize what an inside game career development is. Magic happens once you plan ahead to feel good about your career and begin to include your work seamlessly into the fabric of your life experience. Building a satisfying career begins with knowing it is possible and believing you can tap into that kind of abundance.

People who have found their perfect work are passionate and proud of the work they do. They exude a special type of joy and zest for life. I wish that for you. Dive into your career development one optimistic step at a time. Follow what appeals to you now as an indication of your intuition at work.

A career is more than one job, a progression of jobs, or even a certain task or title. It’s your life’s work and may include many areas of focus, some paid, and some not (such as schooling, volunteer work, or being a stay-at-home parent). Finding a larger perspective like that can make the significance of the immediate day-to-day more palatable, especially if you are currently in a job you hate. The job doesn’t feel so bad when you take the bird’s eye view. What you are doing now is just one step on the path.

If you can find a big perspective and lean positive with your outlook for the future, you suddenly find yourself with more patience and room to maneuver. It starts to feel like it is possible to make small changes that get you closer and closer to discovering the sweet spot where work feels like play. That’s what happens when you find the flow. You realize you are working on something or for something that feels significant to you personally that uses your best skills and provides the right amount of challenge for development. Add to that the feeling that your work fuels you with purpose and your career begins to feel very sweet indeed. Below are a few ideas for you to consider as a basis for creating a career that you love.

Be selfish. Embrace and pursue your own path.

Sometimes people feel pressure to choose a career based on what someone important to them expects. Often it is easy to turn away from our interests because of what those around us would think. But remember, you are the one putting in time and attention to whatever you choose for your career. You are the one noticing every day how you feel about your work. So be selfish in your career development planning. Intend for your work to enhance your life. Those you care about will be glad that you are happy in the end.

Building a career is an ever-evolving process, not a one-time choice. Each day you learn and gather new skills, meet new people, and gain important insights and info about yourself and what interests you. Through self-analysis and experience, you become more knowledgeable about yourself, what it is you do best, and how to present that to others. You learn more about what is a good fit for you and you become better able to match up with opportunities.

Follow your interests without concern about what other people think. It doesn’t matter if others notice what you are doing or what you are interested in, but when you fully engage with your work without the need for their attention, everyone will notice. You can feel confident knowing that people recognize you for what you do best as soon as you own it and keep working on it.

Begin by focusing on how you want to feel about your work. How does it feel when your work is easy and enjoyable for you? What feeling are you mainly wanting from your work at this time? Feel it now. Feel what it is like to do what you want. Make it a daily practice to visualize and feel that money comes to you without struggle and that your work is a joy.

A fulfilling career is built upon natural strengths that enable you to work with ease and to gain expertise faster. Strengths are activities that you enjoy doing, that you do well, and that you don’t mind doing repeatedly, as defined by Marcus Buckingham*, one of the first strengths researchers. Once you find your top 2-3 strengths, I suggest you build your career around them ruthlessly. Work with a career counselor or coach to help make them the hub of your life’s work. Use them to communicate what distinguishes you from others in your cover letters and resumes and in important conversations with hiring managers, bosses, colleagues, and mentors.

Build on your career keyword and your strengths.

Your career keyword can provide clarity in understanding what you want recognition for and likely what will be easily recognized in you by others. Once you have it, you can integrate it with your strengths to use as a guiding light in your career decision making.

Identifying a career keyword is an exercise in big-picture thinking. It is kind of like choosing a theme song, but in this case, it is one word that describes what your career is about at its core. What is your career keyword? Get quiet for a few seconds then ask yourself, “what is my career about?” See if your intuition supplies an answer. If not, choose one for now and change anytime you find a word that fits even better. Your career keyword will resonate with you. You might feel proud, excited, or confident when you hit on a good word for you. Here are some example keywords.

administrating • art • beauty • bravery • building • challenge • communicating • compassion • competing • cooperating • creating• dancing • defense • diplomacy • efficiency • empathizing• enforcement • exploring • fashion • foreign travel • harmony • hedonism • healing • honesty • images • imagination • independence •
innovation • leading • movement • music• negotiating • nurturing • perfecting • performing • persistence• philanthropy • philosophy • physical stamina • power • problem solving • protecting • relating • religion • research • sales • science • self-expression • service• social reform • spirituality • storytelling • teaching • team building • technology • transforming • writing

Plan ahead to enjoy and focus your mind as you go.

Have you decided that work is a “grind?” Do you leave your workplace already dreading returning tomorrow? If so, it is no wonder work is difficult. When you notice and talk about what you don’t like, it is so easy to continue focusing in that way. If you want different results, then you need to establish a new thought pattern about your career. You simply must find a positive perspective about your work to ensure that your career enhances your life.

Even if you already think your job is good and you enjoy your work, you can give it more juice. Try this strategy. Go to work looking for something to like during your day. Maybe it’s a certain feeling in the air or special people you involved. Maybe it’s that you have a lot of time to think while you do a repetitive task. Maybe it’s that moment when you help a customer and they genuinely appreciate it. Maybe it’s noticing how someone else seems happy or is a pleasure to be around. Maybe it’s the precision with which things are getting done. There is always something positive to notice, find it. Then talk about it, and notice it again tomorrow.

Plan in advance to enjoy your work in the immediate future (as in today), short-term (as in this year), and long-term (ten years from now). What does it feel like to know satisfaction about a job well done, a position you are proud of, and a well-developed career? Feel it all now. Let your body feel the visualization as if it were the real thing. Use your imagination to your advantage to raise your vibe by intentionally feeling like you already have all that you want in your career. Do it daily and notice the differences. The positive differences you notice are your “wins.” Focus on them and make a big deal of it. Things are changing for the better!

Before the Job Hunt

Often people get it backward. They arrive at a time in their lives when they need a new job then the first thing they do is look for job openings. It may seem logical but it is not the most beneficial way to go about it. Many of those jobs are not a good match for one reason or another. If they are not a match then they are just distractions.

Instead, flip the process around and begin with yourself. Engage in some pre-job hunt career research. Career research is a process of getting in-depth knowledge of yourself and an idea of where your skills and interests best fit into the career landscape. The purpose of career research is to develop a career strategy and job hunt plan. So the process looks like this instead:

  1. Begin with self-awareness
  2. Study occupations
  3. Then industry trends
  4. Then company culture and job openings.

There are strong advantages to working a job hunt from this angle. First is that you will get a better understanding of your personal brand along the way. You will be able to strategically network with others knowing what you want them to remember about you. You also gain a deep understanding of what makes your heart sing and will be able to zoom in on opportunities that are more likely to work optimally for you. Lastly, you will come from a position of passion in job interviews and will be more convincing and so more likely to win the offer.

A good place to start is with this career aptitude test based on the Holland Codes. It’s good, it’s quick, and it’s free. The results are useful and interesting. The same website also has some excellent career research resources. I love the way the information on each job title is presented. It’s easy to read, short and sweet, and particularly relevant. Of course, O*Net is a very good resource for career research as well.

 

Unschooling Field Notes 1

We are five months into our unschooling journey and life is much improved. Dare I say even very, very good. The freedom I feel in each day is refreshing. Our schedule has totally opened up and we are all experiencing more free time as well as an abundance of quality time together. The learning going on with no effort at all to plan for it is simply astounding. They are leading the way and I love it.

At first, it felt like long tentacles from a ginormous black octopus were beginning to recoil away. Those tentacles were threaded into cracks and crevices throughout our lives. They were dragging us down. As they receded, we discovered the ability to breath unrestrained again…just like summertime. What a relief! There is magic in the resulting lightness. We feel the freedom and creativity of being ourselves and simply enjoying life with no deadlines or schedules except the ones we set for ourselves. We are enjoying realization of a whole new existence where we are calling the shots. It is, quite simply, liberating.

Still, at the edge of my consciousness is a somewhat annoying persistent thought about the upcoming proof of progress we must file with the school administration by mid-summer. Sometimes I catch myself imagining that black octopus just bidding time to pounce and wrap us all up again. I know it sounds dramatic and I know it’s just a fearful thought, one that I consciously I kick out. There have been many times that I’ve soothed myself away from the scary idea that we’ll be challenged for trying to get away with something and then be required to justify ourselves. Which seems like a totally ridiculous thought since a previous generation has already fought the good fight to have homeschooling be an allowed option.

Lucky for me, here in Virginia there are a couple ways to choose from in order to demonstrate educational growth and progress. Families can do good enough on a nationally normed standardized test of their choice (place in or above the fourth stanine) or have an evaluation letter from a qualified individual (a licensed teacher or someone with a master’s degree). If progress is not found to be good enough, the homeschooling family gets a year of probation to continue homeschooling then try again next year to adequately prove progress. If progress is still not good enough there will be intervention and the kids go back to school. I have been advised by local homeschooling gurus to “just test out” because they say it is the easiest and most objective way to jump through the required hoops. This I have a problem with because standardized testing is one reason I wanted out of the school system. Also, having done more traditional homeschool with my son in the past I know how quickly learning time turns to rote memorization and uninspired lectures while running through a checklist of what to learn to do well on the test…a frustrating exercise for me and my kids to be sure.

So I have settled into the idea that we will show progress with a letter that I write reporting on the progress of each of my kids for this first year. The reason I can write the report is that I have a Master’s degree and regulations do not stipulate that the evaluator cannot be the child’s parent. This seems a bit risky but I’m sure it will all work out. After all, I am with them all day every day being continually astounded by their questions and creative ways of thinking. As a backup, I am also keeping an Evernote portfolio for each kid and their interests and activities throughout the year. Those Evernote portfolios will likely become portfolio blogs for each kid as they advance. The kids are very interested in building their own portfolios already. They love that we are collecting photos, videos, links, and audio recordings of what they are focusing on a creating and so do I. The portfolios will serve a purpose similar to a scrapbook too. The kids enjoy looking back at what they’ve done even now and it solidifies their learning as they do.