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Advice on How to Thrive in Your Career

Book gives career information on how to keep—and excel at—your current job.

2/5/2014 9:22:22 AM | Editor’s note: Denise Kalm is a board-certified career coach and president of her own coaching firm. She enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction, including her latest book, “Career Savvy: Keeping and Transforming Your Job,” available now at online retailers and at her website, www.DeniseKalm.com. Here is an excerpt from “Career Savvy” about transforming your job to one you love.

Chapter 21: In a Rut? Start Digging Deeper (Excerpt)

Are you in a career or job rut? Some of you may already know – you dread Sunday nights, seeing a succession of tedious and frustrating days stretching out in front of you. For others, the passion and joy found in work accomplishments may be increasingly elusive. And some of you may find that you can do your job on auto-pilot, performing well even on days where your mind or body isn’t 100% on the job. Wouldn’t it be great to have a strategy when this starts to be a problem?

It happens to everyone at some point in their career. If this is you, right now it may seem easier to stick with a job you can do so easily. Eventually, you may reach burnout because the rewards will no longer outweigh the negatives. When you live for the clock to tick over to 5:00 PM, and long for the week to end, you’re probably burned out.

It’s much easier to turn this around if you don’t wait till you’re burned out and your energy is drained. How can you know? The following questions help you detect a potential job satisfaction “leak” – often, like weight gain, it develops so slowly you don’t immediately notice the change.
  1. When was the last time you woke up jazzed to get started on a work project?
  2. How often do you feel a strong sense of accomplishment at the end of a day?
  3. How often do you feel intellectually challenged at work?
  4. How many days do you find that time evaporates – you don’t know where the hours went?
  5. Do you enjoy every day of the week, not just weekends and vacation?
Jin Ae struggled through Sunday evenings, even though she looked forward to watching her favorite travel show at the end of the evening. It was simply impossible to forget that she had to wake up the next morning and start another long week at work. Her husband said, “Get another job. Stop complaining.” He didn’t understand that she couldn’t envision looking for another job just like the one she had. Jin Ae considered how difficult it would be to convince an employer that she was excited about creating another launch plan or social media campaign. Sometimes, she could remember a time when ideas simply appeared; she couldn’t wait to try them out at work. Now, she felt like she was on a death march.

If you struggle to remember when it was that good and think fondly of jobs where things seem to have been better, it might be time to start digging. Digging? Make my rut deeper?

Yes. The way to successfully get back on the road headed where you want to go is to dig deeper…inside yourself. If you look for another job without doing this work, you’re likely to find that this “quick fix” is no fix at all. Unresolved problems tend to follow you, from job to job, from relationship to relationship. And while deep in a rut, you may struggle to see other opportunities within your current job or company.

Life’s ruts are an indicator that the things we are doing are disconnected from what we consciously or unconsciously consider our purpose or meaning. Our purpose may evolve and shift as we age – the desire for meaning in life increases as you move through your 40’s and 50’s, when, so often, your job has become more mundane. Even professionals who have dedicated their lives to their calling and spent many years in training to become experts can find that they no longer feel the passion for their current career.

As often as you update your resume, you should consider taking stock of how well your job fits you. There are many ways to get in touch with your purpose. One method is to make a list of the things you love to do, whether it’s on the job, for volunteer work or for fun. Look at the underlying threads.

For some, the following three questions can offer clues to what you care about now:
  1. If you had only one year left to live, what would you do with the time?
  2. If money weren’t an issue, what would you be doing with the rest of your life?
  3. If you woke up tomorrow and everything was as it should be, what would that look like?
These questions, often posed by executive coaches to their clients, can be powerful tools in your self-assessment, or a lead-in to work in partnership with a coach. Though some find they can coach themselves, others value the support, accountability and experience offered in a coaching relationship.
What these questions do is open your mind to possibility. They help you focus on opportunities and futures, not the things you want to leave behind. Once you start looking at what you love and want to do, you will also begin to see ways to make it work for you.

Once you begin to find answers to these questions, you have the foundation for a plan to transform the job you have into one you love. Remember the excitement and passion you once had for your job? You can achieve those feelings again.

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.”
Johann von Goethe

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