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  • Choosing a Career You LOVE

    Rose Flowers Heart Over White. Valentine. Love

    Love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

    Yep – it’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. Today we’ll spend a little time expressing our love for the people in our lives that matter the most. Although we typically think of romantic love when we think of this holiday, love is also being celebrated between friends, families, and co-workers too.

    If you ask us who and what we love, most of us could easily start rattling off the people and things that top our lists. We love our spouses and significant others. We love our parents, grandparents, and children. We love our friends and neighbors. And things like chocolate, wine, new shoes, big screen TV’s, and exotic vacations? We love them, too.

    But where on your “love list” does your job or career show up?

    Is it on there at all?

    If you’re like most, probably not.

    According to surveys done by Kelly Services in 2012 , over 66% of you plan to look for a new job in the coming year.

    The word love is not even close to how you’d describe your feelings for your current position.

    So what will you do about it?

    The research shows that you intend to find a new position, but how will you be sure that the next one will be better?

    I have two suggestions for you for that I think will be helpful in steering you in the right direction.

    Redefine Your Expectations for Work

    You love the idea of loving your job, don’t you? But do you really believe that it’s a possibility? Or have your last several non-ideal positions left you so cynical that you don’t really expect to love a job? Aren’t you really just willing to settle for something that you can tolerate? Do you really just believe that all work sucks (that’s why they call it work) and that you’d be silly to get your hopes up for anything to the contrary?

    I don’t have statistics for this, but I think that, sadly, many people have convinced themselves that statements like those are correct for the most part. There may be people here and there who claim that they truly love their jobs, but we assume that a) they are very lucky or b) they must be lying.

    The truth is that all work doesn’t have to be bad. It can be good – very good.

    If you’re a Christian, you know that God created work.

    God worked. (And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done… Gen 2:2).

    Jesus worked. (…we must work the works of Him who sent me… John 9:4)

    God created us to work. (Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. – Exodus 34:21)

    And we know that if God is good, work is inherently good.

    And work can be good for you.

    You can love your job. You should love your job. Make up your mind right now to banish the beliefs that work is bad and that it’s okay to spend a third of the waking adult hours of your life doing something that brings you no satisfaction beyond a weekly paycheck.

    Choosing a career you will love is the goal here, okay?

    Now for the second suggestion… you want to know how to figure out what that job is, right?

    Define The Kind of Work You WANT To Do

    Finding the work you love is entirely possible, but… I’ll tell you on the front end: it’s going to take some effort on your part. As with anything worthwhile, it may not come quickly or easily, but it will be well worth your while.

    Defining the kind of work you want to do is an entirely different exercise than merely updating your resume with your latest job description. We’re not even going to talk about your resume today. There are other things you need to nail down first before we get to that. You will need a pen and paper, but you’re just going to use it to jot down words and ideas. Nothing formal, nothing fancy –just a place to get it all down in one place.

    SKILLS / ABILITIES: Here’s the first thing I want you to do: write down all of the things that you like to do. Forget about what you can do; focus on what you want to do or like to do. Since the goal is not to end up with another position like the one you currently hate, don’t bother to put any of the things on this list that you don’t want to see on a future job description.

    Every person has their own unique set of talents and abilities that they delight in using. What are yours? Write them down. This is one of those no-stupid-answers kinds of activities; challenge yourself to think of as many things as possible. Input from others is fantastic here, too. Ask others what they think you do well, and include their suggestions here – if you enjoy those activities. If someone tells you how great you are at an activity that, in reality, you despise, thank them and just exclude it from your list.

    INTERESTS / PASSIONS: And now we’re getting back to the love theme a bit. What do you love? What interests you? What causes move you? Again – no holds barred here. Crazy about cats? Put it on the list. Does your heart break for orphans? Write it down. Do you love fashion? Get it on your paper.

    Sometimes it may be difficult to get this list started, especially if you’re so burned out and overworked right now that you can’t even think of the last time that you did something for the pure fun of it. If you’re having this challenge, a good tip is to go back to childhood. What did you do for fun? What did you want to be when you grew up? What things did you do that you were really proud of?

    When I did this exercise for the first time around 13 years ago, I put things like clothing and bargain shopping on my list. I thought they sounded stupid and maybe a little shallow to bother writing, but… long story short, I ended up launching a wholesale apparel company called Madison Avenue Closeouts (now run by my dear friend DeDe). We bought overstock merchandise from some of the leading department stores in the country (perfect quality, stylish, brand name stuff – for literally pennies on the dollar) and sold to independent retailers around the world. Basically – I was bargain shopping for clothes for a living! I had previously worked in the technology sector, and many of the items on my list were a little more on the techie side. But those two items – bargain shopping and clothing – just stood out to me and wouldn’t let go. It was a bit of an evolution story in getting the business model together and the company up and running, but in the end, it was the perfect job – for me, by me. (And, for the record, it continues to be an evolution story. I learned in that role how much I enjoyed the people development side of things, which led me to this company. Your career can change and grow with you; you just need to get on the right track and tweak as you go.)

    PERSONALITY: Time to let it all out here, too. You’ll be happiest when you’re in a work environment that lets you be you, so why not optimize your position to suit yourself best? Toss it all out there, quirks and all. Do you like to work alone? How much interaction do you need? Do you need to be in charge? Do you like detailed To-Do lists from your boss, or do they make you cringe? Can you handle working indoors all day, or will you go stir crazy if you don’t get outside and experience a change of scenery? Do you like to make decisions, or does all that power and responsibility make you uncomfortable? What kind of pace is best for you? Review the positives and negatives from past and current roles and try to make the connections to your personality.

    Finding the work you love will involve making connections between these areas.

    The “right” answer for you may or may not be instantaneous. Some of you may secretly already know what you’d like to do, but for some reason you just haven’t been able to admit it or talk yourself into going for it just yet. Some of you may just need to mull it over for a bit before the pieces start fitting together (which is okay; it’s a big decision, and you want to get it right!) Others may need outside assistance from a friend or career coach to help you make the connections between these areas. Often it can be difficult to know just what kind of “real world” jobs are out there that fit these three areas; this is an area we can help with if you need some assistance.

    Imagine it: a job that suits your personality and lets you put your favorite talents to use, working in an industry or for a cause that you are naturally passionate about. If you were really in a role like that, couldn’t you imagine yourself LOVING your work?

    It’s possible. You don’t have to be “lucky” to find a job that you love; you just have to be committed to defining what that job looks like for you and then going out there and finding (or, sometimes, creating!) it.

    The effort and determination will be worth it, I promise.

    Do what it takes so you can add your job to your “love” list.

    LEGEND Talent Management helps both companies and individuals in determining ideal job fit. Individuals wondering how to match up their skills, abilities, and personalities with “real-world” opportunities that are a match may want to take advantage of our career assessment tools.