It's hard to believe now because anyone who knows me knows how excited I am about my career...but about 10 years ago, despite a fantastic education (B.Comm), and a solid career path in sales, finance, and real estate-backed investments, I was completely miserable in my work. Like crying in the parking lot as I forced myself to go into the office again. Regularly. I'm the kind of person whose work needs to align with my soul. Not everyone feels like that, and that's totally OK, but for me, it's not an option to just 'have a job' and then have a life. My work, my friends, my hobbies, my volunteering, my relationships, my workspace, my home, my studies, and more, only work for me when they are all aligned with my truest desires, my heart, and my soul. So when I couldn't take it anymore, I dove into a journey of researching myself to understand myself so that I could make different choices.
Wondering what to do next with your life, your hobbies, your time, your career? Need a change? Here are my top four tips:
1. Online career tests
Myers-Briggs Personality Typing & the Strong Interest Inventory. Google either or both of these, you'll find some free tests, and some that you have to pay for. The paid ones will likely give you a better report. These are excellent, and they likely are the first tools that any career counsellor will use with you.
Do What You Are: The bestselling guide to finding career success and satisfaction through Personality Type is now thoroughly revised, expanded, and updated.
Strengths Finder 2.0 - DO YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO WHAT YOU DO BEST EVERY DAY? Chances are, you don’t. All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths.
The Element - A New York Times-bestselling breakthrough book about talent, passion, and achievement from the one of the world's leading thinkers on creativity and self-fulfillment.
3. Career Counselling
I can't say this loud enough or too many times, "get career counselling"!! If you need some direction and want to save yourself a decade of trial and error, it's worth the investment to pay for some professional help. And, if you're alumni of a post-secondary institution, you may qualify for free lifetime career counselling. I was thrilled to learn that as a U of S graduate, I was eligible for this very thing. And my work with Kim was transformational in my journey. She helped me to realize (via the Strong Interest Inventory) just how important it is to my sense of satisfaction in life to incorporate the arts into my world. It's not just 'nice to have'. It's essential for me. And at the time I had ZERO creative outlet and no creative community. I'm ever-grateful to Kim and the whole staff at SECC for this revelation and so many more. It changed my life.
This is the biggest investment in my career change that I made but it was also one of the most profound experiences. After doing all of the above, I still wanted to learn more. And I read an article in Oprah magazine about a professional musician who followed her heart and became a member of an orchestra and a music teacher. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Wrong. She was miserable, and hated herself for not being satisfied with her life, yet she didn't know why, she'd followed her passion! She went to the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation and learned that although she was perfectly suited to mastering an instrument, the life of a professional musician fell short in using all of her aptitudes and left a hole of dissatisfaction in her heart. With a few tweaks, she changed her job, started writing about music and working at a magazine and was happier than ever. For life satisfaction, she learned that she needed to be around people and not practicing by herself all day. Hmmm....this piqued my interest. So I researched the institute, called them, and booked a flight.
After a day and a half of objective testing (i.e. NOT subjective...none of the results are based on any of my opinions or biases, but purely on how I performed on tests), I received a comprehensive report ranking me on 21 different aptitudes, showing where I was above average, average, or below average. The aptitudes that are above or below average are the ones that count. For example, I really sucked at 3-D/spatial recognition. Now doesn't that explain why I nearly failed out of first year engineering even though I had a full scholarship?! And I have a very high rate of generating ideas, they call it 'ideaphoria'. What does that mean? It means that I MUST be in a career where I get to be creative and innovative, all the time, every day. Aha! Everything began to make sense. I took myself out for dinner and journalled like crazy while I wrote down everything that I realized and could make decisions on. And guess what the test suggested I do? Marketing, public relations, journalism, and advertising. Thanks to points 1-3 above, I'd just started dabbling in public relations. My trip to Johnson O'Connor confirmed that it was the right path for me. And I needed that.
With 11 locations across the USA, next time you're travelling to a conference or even if you take a special trip like I did (Denver's a direct flight from Saskatoon), it may be worth considering a stop in to the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation. Please tell them I sent you.