What do you want from work?

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Do you know what you want from your career?

I’d like you to stop everything you’re doing right now (other than reading this article). Pause for moment, and think about your job, your career, or if you are between jobs, think about the job you are seeking. As you consider your work, how do you feel? Are you smiling? Are you excited to get up and go to work most days? Are you filled with a sense of passion and satisfaction with the work you do?

If the answer yes, FANTASTIC! And keep reading, because in a world as dynamic as ours, you never know when things may change.

However, if you are like many people I talk with, these questions may leave you feeling sad, angry or discouraged. But we can turn that around. It starts by answering the question, what do you want from your job or career?

When I asked Janice that question, she looked at me, and without missing a beat said, “I have no idea.” Janice and I continued to talk, and I asked her several other questions. As it turns out, Janice had many ideas and answers. She knew many things about the type of work she wanted. The only piece she didn’t have was a label (or job title) . And that is a great place to start.

So let me ask you some of the questions I asked Janice, and see what you discover about what you really want from your job or career.

START by imagining it is 12 months from now, and you now have the kind of job you love.

1. Pretend you just got home from work, how do you feel about your work day?

Are you energized from the work you do? Do you feel challenged, and pleased with the impact you are making? Do you feel content and proud of the work you do? Describe how you feel.

2. Now imagine you are at your place of work. Look around. Where are you?

Is it an office? Are you at home? What kind of workspace do you have? A cubicle? Is it an open floor plan? Are you indoors or outdoors? What is the furniture like? What color are the walls? Are there walls and furniture? How far do you travel to work? How do get there (on foot, by car, bus, train)?

3. Continue to imagine you are at your job. What are your typical interactions at work? What types of people do you work with?

Executives? Consumers? Experts? People like you? People different from you? Do you work alone? As part of a team? Do you lead a team? Is it a large company with lots of people? Or a small family business? Are you answering questions, providing expertise and help to others? Or are you creating something, making something? Perhaps you are solving problems with your hands. Or discussing new ideas or concepts? Are you writing papers or other documents? Are you working closely with industry leaders? Or are you getting the tasks done that need to be done.

4. What activities are part of your typical work day or work week?

Without looking for a job title, describe the activities that fill your day or week. Do you write, draw, program, create, solve, meet? Are you talking with people? Are you doing the same things every day? Or are you doing different things? Be detailed and specific with what you do know.

5. How much money do you need?

Note I said need, not want. This is the number you need to provide for you and your family, to take care of your health, and to enjoy your life. This number varies for each person. Take the time to identify your real number.

When Janice answered these five questions, she had a clear picture of the kind of job and career she wanted. As she compared what she wanted, with what she has right now, she was able to identify her career goals for 2013.

The answers to these five questions will tell you what you want from your work. As you compare your answers to what you have today, in this present moment, you will find your goals. These are the goals that will help you have a satisfying career.

So let me ask you again, what do you want from your job or career? I’d love for you to share your discoveries or questions with me below.


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Client Stories

I hired Lori because I was feeling stuck in my job and needed to find a career that was more rewarding, more challenging, and more suited to me.  In the arts, it's difficult to find a job you enjoy that also pays enough to live on, but Lori helped me do just that! 

As we worked together, Lori always helped give me that extra nudge when I was having trouble taking the next step toward success and acknowledged and applauded me when I accomplished something that I'd been struggling with. 

Thanks to Lori, I got out of my 8-year rut at the same job and discovered a new career I love that brings me all of the things I want in a job--creativity, variety, challenge, learning, flexibility, teamwork, and cake.  With no professional experience but a desire to learn, Lori helped me find ways to become a cake decorator--first on my own and then, eventually, at a reputable cake shop.  Now, something I used to do just for fun has become something I make my living doing, and each workday flies by!

Emily Sweeney, Chicago, IL