When you were growing up, did your Mom, Dad, grandparents, or other person of influence want you to do or be something career-wise that you had no interest in doing or being? As a Baby Boomer, I remember the high school counselor told me I had three choices for a career: teacher, nurse or secretary – none of which I was interested in pursuing. While they are fine occupations – not for me! My Grandmother on the other hand, an elementary educator, encouraged me from the time I was a young child to get a college degree and make something of yourself. In one of her many library books, I discovered the phrase: Hitch Your Wagon to A Star, a quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson. This little phrase has served me well in making life choices and decisions – does this action get me closer to or farther from my star?
I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of job seekers and I am always interested in hearing their career path and how they wound up where they are. Sometimes, clients tell me they chose a particular career “because that’s what my parents wanted me to do” or because “that’s what my Grandmother, Grandfather, Aunt or Uncle wanted me to be...follow in their footsteps.” What will you be when you grow up? Is it a job you want, or is it an occupation someone else wants for you? Here are a few thoughts to explore as you consider what’s next for you.
Ability / Aptitude: Do you possess the requisite skill, talent and ability to do the job – whatever it might be? Is the job a good fit with you and who you are? For example, let’s say your Aunt Hilda wants you to be a lawyer because her husband is a lawyer, her father is a lawyer, and her brother is a lawyer. The real question is: "Do you want to be a lawyer?" Have you taken the LSAT? Do you have the ability to pass the exam with a score high enough to gain admission to law school somewhere in the country? Do you have the ability and the aptitude for the work?
Action: Are you willing to commit to the steps required to achieve the career goal? What is your timeline? When will you start? When do you expect to complete your goal? How much will it cost in terms of time, energy and money? What sacrifices are you willing to make?
Ambition: Do you have a strong desire to achieve the career goal? Are you willing to put forth the determination and hard work it will take to get what you want? Are you self-motivated, disciplined, focused and driven to achieve your purpose?
Attitude: What is your perspective regarding your career goal? What words best describe your outlook on getting to the goal?? If you had to pick one word to represent your attitude right now, what single word would you choose? What, if anything, might you change about your attitude?
Attributes: Do you have the traits and qualities suited for the job? What are your greatest attributes? What qualities, if any, need some refinement?
Are you pursuing a job because it is what you want for you or are you tracking a job because someone else wants it for you?