Today new technologies, increased competition and downsizings have eliminated many jobs. Managed care has severely impacted the way medical and mental health services are provided. With fewer people to do the work and increased competition for jobs, we are putting in more hours than ever before. Besides burnout and depression, other job stresses come from doing work you are not suited for, or working in an environment that is not conducive to your temperament, values and the quality of life that you desire. If you think you need to find another job or change the direction of your career, it is important to first go through a process of self-assessment, focusing on your options, and lastly, developing a specific action plan to get you where you want to be.
What are the values, ideals and ethics that you hold near and dear? You need to display these in your work if you are to feel satisfied and fulfilled. Be clear about the compromises you can make without suffering. What are your special abilities and skills? What do you consider to be your best traits and characteristics? What are your areas of interest in your work and in school? How do you make decisions? Are you a “big picture” person or one who likes to focus on the details? Personality assessments often can help with this process.
What kind of environment do you want to work in? This includes geographic location and proximity to home, hours that you work as well as clothes that you wear to work and a description of the organizational culture. Do you want flex-time or would you like to work from home? Do you want to be self-employed? What does your office space look like? What kind of people do you want to work with? Do you prefer to work independently or within a team environment?
After you have completed a thorough assessment of your values, skills, abilities and the environment that you want to work in, consider the content of the work itself. Do you like to counsel others? Do you like to teach? Do you like to write or conduct research? Is administration and policy-making your passion? Do you want to manage others or work independently? Make a list of the things you like about your work and the things you don’t like. Be specific. The Strong Interest Inventory is a good instrument to help focus your interests.
Next you need to match your abilities and skills with the needs of the marketplace. The competition for jobs today is very stiff. Brainstorm the general career areas that fit your interests. Conduct informational interviews to determine what it is really like to work in those areas. What kind of skills and experiences do you need to have to secure a job in those fields? Are you willing to do what it takes to make that happen? What about salary requirements?
Perhaps after conducting the self-assessment and focusing, you decide you really like the work you do and only need to change the environment. If you leave a particular career and decide you don’t like your new job, it will be more difficult to return to your former career. It is crucial to go through the self-assessment and focusing process before you make a move.
Once you know what you want to do, develop a specific plan to get there. If you decide to stay put, create a career development plan that includes acquiring the skills and experience you need to further your career. Write your goals and objectives. Update your resume. Network with those in positions to further your cause. A career consultant can help keep you motivated, focused and in pursuit of your goals.
If you want success in your career, you must have confidence in your ability to solve problems, practice independent thinking and decision-making and be determined to find the answers. Don’t give up! Start with a thorough assessment of your values, skills, interests and abilities. Focus your efforts on your areas of interests and abilities, and develop an action plan by specifying goals and objectives. It is only by focusing on your strengths that you can truly obtain fulfillment and success in your career. A professional career consultant can provide objective feedback to help keep you motivated and on-track.