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Career Coaching

May 5, 2008
When you review the employee satisfaction statistics it is easy to understand why career coaching is a growing profession. On average individuals spend over 100,000 hours at work during their lifetime and over 60% of US citizens are dissatisfied in their current job. Imagine spending 100,000 hours doing something you don't enjoy.

When individuals enter the professional world, they tend to focus on their knowledge, skills, or work experience. What they don't take into account are their values, purpose, and motivators, so it is unsurprising when little satisfies them. The 100,000 hours are yours for the taking so read on, assess how satisfied you are in your current role and remember it is never too late to take control.

How satisfied are you?

Take this short quiz to assess how satisfied you are in your current role.
Answer yes, no or don't know to each of the following questions.

Question

1. I like my current job
2. I am clear about my career direction
3. I am clear about my life purpose and direction
4. I enjoy nearly all the tasks performed in my job
5. My current job satisfies my inner and outer needs
6. I am confident in my own abilities
7. I find it easy to make changes when I am dissatisfied
8. I have the work life balance I want
9. I feel in control of my career
10. I am rarely stressed or overwhelmed at work
11. I understand what motivates me to work, and I make job choices based on those factors
12. I know the signs that tell me when it is time for me to change jobs or careers

To determine your score, add-up the ticks in the 'yes' column. The highest possible score is 12; lowest is 0.
Scoring -

9-12High level of satisfaction
5-8Medium level of satisfaction
< 4Low level of satisfaction

Why are 60% dissatisfied?

From the time we enter school we are asked "what are you going to be when you grow up?" Notice that the question is not, "what will we do?" but, what will you be?" The question itself suggests that we integrate a part of ourselves in what we do. (Marcia Bench. Career Coaching - An Insiders Guide 2003)

The 80's and 90's saw mammoth changes to the implied work contract. It changed from a job for life, with hard work and achievement rewarded with a carriage clock, to weaving from one role to the next, chasing fulfillment and freedom. It is accepted people jump from one job to next, in fact it is reported that on average individuals will hold nearly 10 jobs before they are 36 and have several careers in their lifetime.

This type of work arrangement allows the individual to try out careers to see if they work and if not explore their transferable skills and move into another role. It is easy to fall into the trap of identifying your next career move by focusing on your knowledge, skills, and experience alone. In fact the majority of career development models begin by looking at exactly that; your knowledge, skills and experience. They do this based on the idea that if you do work you are good at, you will find satisfaction. The problem however, is that people do their jobs for years, but still don't achieve total satisfaction. We have reached a point where fulfillment and satisfaction are more important than competency. Whilst for some this method will successfully identify their next career move, for others it fails to answer the underlying questions - what do I really want to be and how can I use my passion to generate a good income and be fulfilled?

The best way to answer this question is to uncover the overall theme within your life; what really makes you tick? Use the following tips, questions and clues to start the process of identifying your life direction and understand whether your current job is part of it.

Take Action

1 Buy yourself a notebook!

Keeping a notebook handy will ensure you remember what you noticed or did. It will also help you identify and be conscious of the themes in your life.

2 Start jotting down what piques your interest.

Articles, adverts on the subway, songs, books. What themes do you notice?
This is a great way to gain clarity around your unconscious motivators.

3 What is your first thought when you wake in the morning?

This will help you understand what controls your waking thoughts.If your first thought is about how horrible your boss is, this might be affecting your energy levels for the rest of the day and certainly won't be helping you tackle the issue. Begin to be aware of what is dominating your thoughts - how might this be affecting what you do and your satisfaction levels?

4 If you were to read an article about yourself, what would you want it to say?This question will help you begin to clarify what is important to you.

5 What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

This is a great question as it encourages you to think big.

6 Looking back over your life write about your 10 greatest successes (life or work). Begin to notice the common themes that emerge.

What motivated you? What natural talents emerge? This will help you begin to explore your natural talents and motivators as well as get clarity around what type of activities you enjoy and get a buzz from.

7 Looking back over your life what types of people make regular appearances? What types or disasters and success have repeated themselves?This will help you understand what you naturally enjoy and what areas to avoid!

8 Ask your close friends or relatives what they see you doing?This will provide some objective insight.

9 Using the information gathered, think through how your current job compliments who you really are and how it could be improved.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.....

We can all come up with excuses to explain our lethargy in making changes to increase our job satisfaction. Before you discard this article because of one of them - take a moment to review the most common excuses which prevent such changes and my follow up questions below.

1 Concern over financial impact

Have you worked with a financial professional to review what you can do to plan for the future? By working with an appropriate advisor, they can help you plan and budget to start doing what you want to do after a period of planning. Imagine the increase in satisfaction in knowing that you are working toward your dream.

2 Time taken to change roles

How could you get hold of someone who has successfully done what you want to do and get some inside information about their success? This will provide motivation and speed the process.

3 Family responsibility

How have you communicated to your family what you really want to do, so they can support your choice? Being more satisfied in your career would make you a better father / mother / sister.

4 Fear of failure

Who do you know who could be a mentor or coach as you bravely step out of your comfort zone?

5 Other people

How often are you doing things because you think you 'should' rather than because you 'want' to? Review your career and check that you are doing what you are doing because of your own motivation and not that of others.

There is no worse case career scenario than spending 100,000 hours doing something you dislike. Be inspired to change.....
About the Author
Lou Clark is a Life & Career Coach and founder of Ętre Coaching based in NYC. With a successful background in Human Resource Management, formal coach training & accreditation with the ICF, Lou is experienced in providing support and coaching through change. Visit Ętre Coaching!
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