It’s Probable You’re In The Wrong Job


It’s a huge world we live in, with everything from densely populated urban areas to rural districts and places of relative isolation. There’s mountainous regions, prairies and wetlands, coasts, deserts, wastelands and watersheds. Out of the billions of places you might have entered the world, chance plopped you into it where it did. Where you entered this game of Life is one of the key determinants to what you’ll do job/career-wise.

Speaking of jobs and careers, there’s an abundance of these world-wide too. If you attempted to list all the jobs that exist in the world, how do you think you’d fare? My guess is you’d do poorly – and so too would I for that matter. There are those jobs we’d readily find in many populous areas world-wide like Servers, Teachers, Factory Workers, Drivers etc. and we’d likely have these pop to mind. However would you also have Dolly Grip, Actuarial Analyst, Pet Insurance Agent, Bung Hole Borer or Brand Evangelist on your list? No, not likely.

The thing is, there are more jobs we don’t know exist than those we do. So what are the odds that you’re in the single perfect job – I mean, THE one you were put on this planet to excel at? Doesn’t it appear rather unlikely that of all the places you could be in the world, somehow you occupy the one city block you were meant to occupy, and that the one job – that single, perfect role you were meant to aspire to and succeed at is within an easy commute? While we’re at it, if you believe soulmates and partners are a one in a million catch, what are the odds they live nearby too? You’re odds of having the perfect job, in the perfect community, living happily with the person you were put on this earth to love for all eternity is astronomical!

Hang on a moment, let’s not get carried away. As we look around, we do see people – and plenty of them – who are happily engaged in the work they do, they’re in healthy, loving relationships and they fit in with the environment they live in. So how did they beat such incredible odds? More importantly, if they did it, how can we duplicate that happiness and success?

It begins with discarding the notion that there is only a single job in existence that will bring us satisfaction. This notion that we have to find that one job we were meant to do is the delusion that keeps many from finding job satisfaction. You can travel to other cities, countries, continents even, and end up doing a job that had you looked, you’d have found nearby in your own community, or in dozens of communities around the globe. So if you’re born in the city but dig a mining career (hope you enjoyed that one), yes you might find yourself relocating to a mining town, but there are lots of those to choose from.

The truth in my opinion is that we’re a multi-talented creature we humans, and as such, there are many jobs that will stimulate our need for job satisfaction. If being around people and helping others is our thing, we can fulfill this desire in many professions; any one of which will bring us happiness and have us feel satisfied at the end of a day. If we’re more inclined to like work that we do in relative isolation, we don’t have to be a Forest Ranger in a lookout tower or even leave the cities we find ourselves in. There exist jobs right in the heart of densely populated cities that people do in isolating roles.

One thing I’d encourage you to do, and do with periodic regularity, is find a quiet space and listen to yourself. It sounds trite, it sounds corny, it might sound downright silly and a right eyerolling, “you’ve got to be kidding?” moment, but listen to your inner voice. If you don’t go to work happily on most days, if you don’t find satisfaction in your work and find yourself clock-watching every fifteen minutes, what are you doing there? You’ve got this one life and time is ticking. As time goes on, options you once had start disappearing. The prison you might find yourself in, chained to a job you come to loathe is one of your own design. Get out into the world and move on before you close the door on yourself. If you don’t, blame yourself, not the world.

If you don’t hear that inner voice pulling you in some other direction, excellent! However, if something keeps nagging at you that there has to be something better, something different, more fulfilling; shouldn’t you be paying attention to that pull? I mean at least explore the possibility of whatever it is that suggests there’s something else you could and probably should be doing? The price you pay to look around is cheaper than the fortune it’ll cost you to lock yourself into a job that brings you nothing but money.

Sure, there’s the usual snags to this thinking: “I have bills, responsibilities, people depend on me, I have to play it safe, my time has come and gone.” Seriously? That’s sad isn’t it? You’re hearts still beating right? Oh good, because it sounded like you were already dead.

A stimulating job or career is nearby; open your mind and your eyes to the possibilities and do something great!

The Case For Honest Self-Assessment


If you’re a regular reader of mine, you may know that one piece of advice I often recommend is to conduct a self-assessment. Taking stock of your assets and liabilities is good practice whether you’re just about to look for employment, you’re thinking about advancing in an organization or you’re happily content in your current role. Knowing yourself well and being able to articulate that knowledge is a wonderful thing.

With the value of self-assessment being said, let me add that unless you do so objectively and honestly, there’s little value in the results. So whether you’re in some facilitator-led group or you’re doing one of the numerous self-assessments online, answering each question put before you has to be answered truthfully or your results are skewed.

I have a personal regret that goes all the way back to my high school days with respect to this. I can still recall doing some career assessments conducted by my school’s guidance staff. Back then, I was working part-time for a Municipal Parks and Recreation Community Centre and was absolutely convinced that my future employment would continue to be in that field. Despite the direction to answer honestly, I gave in to the temptation of answering all the questions in such a way that I believed would direct the results to the field I was interested in. The results were predictable; I’d have a career working in the field of Recreation. To this day I wonder what might have revealed itself had I kept completely open to the process and answered each question without bias.

A colleague at work told me that she too succumbed to shaping her own results way back in her own high school days. While my part-time employment factored into my answers, the influence of her then boyfriend and where he was headed in life caused her to answer her questions with a lean to working in the Chemistry field. She actually started post-secondary school taking Chemistry and after a very brief time realized that for her it was the most boring thing she could experience. Both she and I are Employment Counsellors working in Social Services. Funny how these assessments don’t work out when you intentionally skew the answers and impact the results!

Now yesterday I had a fellow approach me with a different kind of issue. With my guidance, he had just completed 7 days of self-assessments. Like my high school Guidance staff, I too implored those in the class I led to answer truthfully and stay open to the possible results that each assessment generated. This gentleman thought he did so, but on the final day he suddenly realized after something I said in my closing remarks that he had not answered the questions completely honestly. He has an arthritic condition, and so when he answered all the questions put to him over those 7 days, he answered always with his limitation in mind.

The results in his case suggested to him that he’d be best working doing what he’s been doing for years. This not being an option, he now wonders what would the results be if he was to redo all the assessments given with no limitations to his thinking. In fact, he asked me if it was possible to get a blank assessment for each of the activities and do the work on his own. Obviously generating personal results matters to him because he’s asking to repeat a great deal of work he’s just done.

What I find particularly incredible is that I wager if you can recall doing some kind of career/self assessment in high school, you likely haven’t done another one since. Why do I find this incredible? Well, simply put we all evolve. So like me, you’ve changed since your high school days. You’ve developed new interests, your beliefs and values have shifted as you expose yourself to more people. Likewise, your knowledge of careers has expanded; positions exist that didn’t when you walked the high school halls. You’ve had experience working for various bosses, you know yourself differently and experience the world differently than you did as an adolescent teenager. So it stands to reason you should get to know yourself as you are now.

I see great value now in investing in some self-assessment every 10 years or thereabouts. Perhaps when some major life changes occur it would be a valuable exercise to check in with your core beliefs, values, problem resolution styles, set some short and long-term SMART goals, and be able to articulate your personal philosophy. When was the last time you were able to do that?

Know thyself. Not surprisingly, knowing yourself intimately AND being able to communicate what you know about yourself to others is a fabulous strength one can have. When you know yourself, you can easily express who you are and what you’re after in a job interview, or when conversing with your current employer and developing a career plan.

If you find yourself jumping from job to job, searching for something that will bring you satisfaction and happiness; you know, that THING that will feed your passion, maybe this is it.

Weigh the cost of paying to sit down with a Career professional and be guided in this career exploration/self assessment process vs. all the time and money you’ve lost moving from job to job trying to find what to now has proved elusive.

Finding Career Direction Can Be Emotional


Today is the 7th and final day of a  career exploration class I’ve been facilitating. During this time, the participants have been learning about themselves; examining their skills, values, beliefs and then looking at possible jobs and careers that fit best.

For some, it’s been a confirmation that the direction they’re heading in is the right one for them at this time. For others, something new has emerged. There’s a several that have actually had multiple occupations come up and that’s left them with some decisions to make. Finally, there are 3 for whom the course has left their future unclear; they’ve yet to get the clarity and direction they’d hoped for on the first day. Failure? Absolutely not!

Now you might wonder about those last 3. After all, if they came with the expectation of gaining insight into a career they could pursue and that’s yet to emerge, why not consider their time a bust? Fair enough. Well, you see it’s not a question of these 3 finding no job that interests them, it’s more a question of still deciding upon an occupation that will best bring them overall happiness; a combination of what they do well, peaks their passion and returns financial reward for their labour.

Everyone in the class has in my estimation, entirely invested themselves in the process; giving thought to the questions asked of them and completing a number of assessments with a sincere trust in the process. Having conducted this class many times over the course of my career, I can spot a special kind of person; the one that takes this career exploration seriously and pins their hopes on an outcome that they’ll then find meaningful; and this class was full of this kind of person.

And so yesterday, as we came to one of the exercises that starts the process of narrowing down which direction to move in for each person, it hit one person particularly hard when they realized the clarity and direction they’d hoped for hasn’t yet materialized. Tears came, and they removed themselves for a few minutes twice in order to collect themselves. If you think people on social assistance are lazy, unmotivated and are happy to sit back and not work, you’d have a very different view had you sat in on the group yesterday at this moment.

When tears come out, it’s embarrassing for the person much of the time, but it’s actually a clear sign of how much things matter. If the person didn’t care; they’d just taken the class because they were made to or saw it as something to do for awhile, there’d be no tears because their was no emotional investment. Because the tears came out, that’s a clear indication to me that this career / self exploration stuff matters; that the person still believes THEY matter.

We all have barriers to success. That’s not a question but rather a statement. Whether we share them or keep them private, there are things that stand in our way; education we lack, skills that are rusty or not improved upon, experience that we lack, a criminal record we don’t have the funds to erase, an inability to decide between very different jobs and careers. We might lack transportation, have child care issues, anxiety, low self-esteem, fear of making another poor choice and ending up in an unsatisfying job, perhaps a disability; physical or mental.

And as long as were talking barriers, most of us have more than one. In fact, some of us have multiple barriers and they are the invisible kind. While others look at us and can’t see them immediately, they are so very real and huge to us that we feel everybody knows ours. Truth is, most other people are concerned with their own issues they don’t really see the ones we feel are on display for all to see.

For those still struggling to gain some direction, the feelings can be so intense, they see themselves as a failure – again. With the pressure they may be under in the other parts of their lives, this they’d believed, would turn out better. Well, it will. Really, I believe this. There is no prescribed 7 day fix that a course magically promises everyone. On day 1, I actually warned people I wouldn’t stand before them and tell them what they’d be. That is for everyone to find for themselves and while it may take 7 days for many, more time is needed for others.

What of you? Do you know where you’re headed job-wise, career-wise? Are you satisfied with that direction? Are you confused, anxious, afraid of moving in the wrong direction so you put off making a decision altogether?

There’s a cost to being indecisive and time passing will rob you of your current references, the benefits of your experience as your skills sit idle. Your confidence will ebb with a lengthening unemployed gap on your resume. And which is better for you, a job or a career? Both have value and both are the right choice depending on where you’re at.

Knowing yourself better is a great start. Look at your assets; skills, experience, education, contacts, likes, dislikes, problem-solving and learning style, just to name a few things. Knowing who you are is a key.

Looking at jobs and careers that match and working through your barriers will get you where you want to be.

YOU matter.

A Few Ways To Start Your Job/Career


Thinking back on the early part of your work history, how did you get one of your earliest jobs?

Some people get jobs by following in their parents footsteps. You know, it’s the family expectation that you’ll become an Accountant because, well, your dad is an Accountant, your older brothers and sisters are Accountants; even your grandparents were Accountants. So there’s not much if any discussion about what you might be when it’s your turn to enter the world of work. Nobody really talks about what might interest you because you’re slotted in as the next Accountant in the family, carrying on the tradition.

This might sound like a bad thing but for many people it is exactly the opposite. You see they don’t have worry or stress deciding on a career, they’ve got excellent resources to draw on in the family when they need help and advice, and these family connections are their way in to the companies they work for. All they have to do really is follow the plan laid out for them. Yes for some people, this is normal, and they never really experience the conflict of self-determination, nor do they fight it.

Of course not everyone takes this path. The problem with this model for those who don’t follow it is that they may be drawn in other ways to other jobs. They might be creative, artistic, innovative and there’s no room for these qualities in the world of Accounting where numbers are input accurately and precisely. Following the, ‘family way’ and living your life playing up to the expectations of parents and extended family could leave you feeling unsatisfied, unfulfilled and always wondering why you don’t discover what it is you feel you’re really meant to do.

Others follow their passion. With an interest in music, they may not be a celebrity, but they work in the music industry. Or, if the environment is what they feel drawn to, they work to save precious physical resources, encouraging others to live their lives thinking about sustainability and protecting our natural resources. They don’t necessarily have to work in a Ranger Tower in the middle of a Boreal forest; they might even work in a laboratory in a city but devote their time to finding better solutions to problems of creating and cleaning up our environmental waste.

If it’s not the environment that drives you, it could be a passion for sports. Perhaps you turn your love of physical activity and how the body exerts itself into sports medicine, physiotherapy, chiropractic work or you get a job working in a sports venue where you’re surrounded all day long by others similarly motivated. This can be very stimulating and adds a layer to the work you do everyday you wouldn’t get working in the same job but for a different employer. So back to my Accountant, you might be employed by your favourite sports team and the combination of the job and the organization might feed your need for satisfaction.

Many more people fall into jobs. They might take a summer job or a short-term contract job just starting out and without any planning they end up staying around for 25 years! Or they could get started when a friend asks them for a hand working on constructing a house and find they have a knack for building and end up in a classroom taking courses on home construction, codes and by-laws. “How’d I get into this?” is the kind of thing they wonder at some point, but they have no regrets.

Another way some go about finding work is simply to  get going. I mean, these people figure the best way to find out what they’d like to do is just start working at a job, try it out for awhile and pay attention to the things they like and don’t enjoy. Then they move on and try something different; again paying attention to the things they find satisfying and want more of and always taking jobs that have less of the things they want to avoid. Systematically, they end up doing a variety of jobs, having a diversified resume and are better able to adapt into many roles.

The strength for those who take this last route is that being able to adapt well, they are resilient when change occurs. Whether the change comes from an external source – like being laid off or a company relocating elsewhere – or the change comes from within – a personal desire to move on – they can adapt quicker to change than those who have spend 25 years in a single job.

You can see there are many ways to get going when it comes to finding work. There isn’t one accepted way and all of the above are valid. Each way comes with it’s advantages and some disadvantages. Determining which is right for you is important, but remember that what’s right for one person is not necessarily right for another.

So, how did you get started? How did you get into your present job? Your comments are welcome and will be of most benefit to readers who are either on the cusp of entering the world of work or in the early stages of their careers and jobs.

Tell your story of how you got started and how it worked out for you. Was it a great fit? Are you still in that role or how long did it last?

What Job Lies In Your Future? Relax!


Remember being asked, “What are you going to be?” or, “What do you want to do?” when you were in your teens? Most people who ask that question are really looking to open a conversation; get you talking. Whatever you said in reply directed them in their response. So if you named a career, they’d say that was an interesting or good choice. Maybe they’d say that was exciting, dangerous, paid well, etc.

Sometimes you’d name a job that they didn’t know much about and they were interested in learning what that job was and why you were interested in it. Of course if you said you hadn’t made up your mind or didn’t know, you got a sympathetic response as they told you that you had a lot of time to figure things out. That they hoped, was meant to be comforting.

Having an idea of what you want to do is helpful of course because that gives you something to plan around; the courses you’ll need, the school that teaches the program, where to start your job search, the people you should start interacting with. When you’re in your teens, you’ve got your whole life in front of you and yet, it can feel like you have to decide now. You have to start taking classes in high school that will prepare you for College, a trade, or University. Choosing where to go to post-secondary school can be hard to know if all you read are brochures, or go online; even a one day trip to a campus doesn’t really tell you all you want to know, although it sure helps.

Let me tell you one thing that will both help and confuse you though. For some, the job you’ll settle into 5 or 10 years down the road may not have even been created yet, and if it already exists, it hasn’t even entered your conscious thought. In other words, you can’t go to school to learn how to do a future job if you aren’t even aware of it.

The problem now is obvious isn’t it? If the job doesn’t exist, there are no College or University programs that are going to teach you all you need to know to compete for it. If it does exist but you just haven’t the awareness of it yet, how can you expect to move forward in the hopes of preparing for that job?

This is a dilemma for anyone. The answer however isn’t to do nothing and just wait. No, in the interim you’d be wise to increase your work experience and/or get an education. I know, I know, you’re thinking that it might be expensive and a waste of time in your view if you have to go back to school and pay out more money to take some course in the future on top of whatever you graduate with in 3 to 4 years.

You’ve heard no doubt of taking a year off after high school to work or travel; giving yourself the benefit of one year to better determine whatever it is you want to do. For some, that year works wonders. Travelling and working bring you into contact with jobs and the people who work in them that might open your eyes to some possibilities. The conversations you have over the next year might lead you to consider doing something that you’d be really good at and interested in.

But here’s a fact that may also confuse or help you too; most people change their career 2 or 3 times in their lifetime and certainly change their job even more. You knew this though didn’t you? I mean, you don’t think the job you go to school for in your teens and start in your early 20’s is really going to be the job you retire from at 65 do you? Hardly likely.

This is actually a good thing. You my friend, will evolve. You’ll find new things to peak your interest; new jobs that pay more, stretch your thinking in new ways, ones that open new opportunities and some that have greater rewards. What you do in the early and mid point in your working life will largely set you up for those future opportunities. So getting experience now, going to school to get a Diploma or Degree just might keep those doors open so you can take advantage of things down the road.

Relax in other words. Don’t put enormous pressure on yourself when your in high school to choose all the right courses; the College or University that will be perfect for you. By all means get all the information you can from talking to people and visiting schools you might consider. Yes, do your homework and then decide. Remember you can always change a course load in school to another field or even change schools. After you graduate, you might extend your school to get a Master’s, or add a second degree or diploma.

The wonderful thing about life is it’s yours. You get to make it what it will become. There’s no blueprint, no template, no pre-set determined path you have to follow. It’s exciting and stressful and it should be. So you’re normal if you’re unsure. If a job you’ll have in the future hasn’t come into your awareness yet, you can hardly be expected to answer the question, “What do you want to be?”

Must A Short-Term Job Be In Your Career Field?


I had the opportunity yesterday to listen as a 22 year-old woman explained to her fellow classmates what job or career she was after. She cited her long-term objective in Policy Development and went on to say that in the short-term she would do just about anything but it absolutely had to be related to her long-term objective or she’d feel it was a waste of her time.

So how do you feel about that statement? Would you agree that short-term jobs should be related to your own long-term goals in order to be a valuable use of your time?

It’s commendable of course that she’s got a long-term career objective. While it’s not mandatory in order to have a rewarding career, having a vision of what you want and knowing how you’re going to achieve it is one way to successfully move forward. It is, and I say with personal experience, not the only recipe for success.

This I hope comes as good news if you feel anxious about what your future holds. If you should be undecided about what you want to do on a long-term basis, it can feel paralyzing as well in the short-term should you feel you can’t apply for jobs not knowing if they’ll help you or not in the long run.

Allow me to share a little of my own experience in the hopes you might find it comforting. It wasn’t until 13 years ago, back in 2006 that I became an Employment Counsellor. That would put me at 46 years old as I embarked on what has been a rewarding, successful and fulfilling career. Prior to this I’d held a variety of different positions; some of them careers and others I’d call jobs. Whichever they were at the time didn’t really concern me as much as enjoying each I had, finding the pros and cons of each once in them and moving on when the cons outweighed the pros.

I didn’t have a long-term goal to work towards. I didn’t in my early twenties, even know that Employment Counsellors existed, so it was impossible therefore for me to have aspired to be one. Further, I suspect that had I graduated out of University and immediately had the fortune to be hired as an Employment Counsellor, my effectiveness would be very different without my life experiences to draw on.

Looking back in no particular order, I ran my own New and Cooperative Games business for 16 years after a year-long position working for the Province of Ontario; sold shoes and clothes; worked at a bowling alley; a video store; worked as a Programme Manger for a Boys and Girls Club; have been an Executive Director for a Social Services agency; worked for two municipalities as a Social Services Caseworker, and another for years in the field of Recreation. I have also worked in the private sector as an Area Supervisor, leading those who provided care in schools before, between and after classes. I’ve sold photography equipment in a mall, worked in a toy department of a major retailer, even spent one day filling in for a friend in a hot plastics factory. I’ve got summer residential camp experience, sat on volunteer boards and committees too. One year I was asked to lead an International Drug Awareness team in St. Lucia.

Whew! All over the map and one of the best examples I can think of where there sure doesn’t appear to be a linear history of progressive experience in the same field. I’ve worked for a province, two municipalities, the private and non-profit sectors as well as having been self-employed. My work has been in Retail, Recreation, Social Services and the Education sectors. I’ve also been on the front-line, middle management and senior management. I’ve had employment ended, quit, been promoted, been on strike, had to reinvent myself, and build up skills I didn’t know I had, use transferable skills and learn job-specific skills. In short, I’ve become resilient.

Now, here’s the best part. If you can believe it, all of these experiences have shaped who I am, how I think and act, given me empathy and understanding for a wide diversity of people with whom I partner. In short, I’m a decent Employment Counsellor today at 59 years-old BECAUSE of the path I took to get here.

My 22 year-old woman will likely change careers and jobs over the course of her lifetime. Jobs she eventually holds and loves might not even exist in 2019; maybe they’ll appear in 2032. Who knows?

Advice I believe to be sound is to gain experiences; paid and unpaid. Learn from what you do not just about the work, but how you feel as you do it. Always do your best to reward those who hired you and best serve those you call customers, clients, etc. You never know where life will take you; which job you may return to having left once (as I did). Treat employees and your Supervisors well for these are your future references.

All of the combined experiences I’ve had – just as you are collecting your own – are the things that are going to uniquely position us for jobs moving forward. “Why should I hire you?” is my favourite interview question. I can draw on all my past experiences; both the pros and the cons. Nobody out there has the same path as me. Or you for that matter!

Stuck On What To Do; What To Be


Still trying to figure out what your purpose in life is? You know, that ONE thing you were put here on Earth to do? This certainly is one of the big ones; one of those questions that has a lot of implications.

When asked how they’ll know when they’ve found the right job or career, some reply, “I’ll just know”, while others will say, “It will just feel right.” However, what if – and it’s just a possibility of course – what if you were actually meant to dislike the job or career you’re meant to do? What if you’re supposed to struggle with it, fight against it, coming to appreciate the hard work involved, (mental or physical) required to do it well? What if in the end, it’s all the effort that goes into the job that makes the work more meaningful? Maybe for these people, it would never have, “just felt right” in the beginning at all?

Of course to many people, they want to discover THE job; the one they were destined for. Here’s something though to ponder… When we look back at history and talk of people of note, we in the present day brand these people for the occupations they held when they became famous. So we talk about Shakespeare the bard, Churchill the Prime Minister, Charlie Chaplin the actor or Roberta Bondar the astronaut. What we don’t talk of is the job or jobs these same people held earlier in their lives. Why? Because those jobs were of less significance to the masses. Were Churchill a Newspaper Boy or Shakespeare a farmer for a stint, we neither know nor care. But isn’t it true that the people they became were in fact shaped by who they once were? What they once did?

Take me for a current day example. Meet me as an Employment Counsellor and you might imagine this is all I’ve ever done. If I have a positive impact on you and you admire me for what I’m able to share with you or you appreciate my ability to support you as you move forward, you’ll always recall me as Kelly Mitchell the Employment Counsellor. However, I’ve sold shoes, worked in a bowling alley, been a Cooperative and New Games Trainer, and more. Those weren’t the jobs that made me a person of note in your own life; but I’ve been shaped by those jobs nonetheless.

The same is true of you. Wherever you ultimately end up, when you look back at your career or collection of jobs, you’ll see value in all the things you’ve done that shaped you along the way. This includes the positive experiences and yes, the ones which at the time were hard to go through, didn’t work out at all, or you performed well at but just had to change. We are all the sum of our experiences.

Trying to figure out what’s next so that you move in the direction you were always destined to go in and finally, “get it together” may or may not be possible. It could be that yes, you’ve been sufficiently stimulated to move in a direction that will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment. If so, great for you!

On the other hand, you might still be in a period of flux; that is, a time of confusion and change. Maybe all this struggle you’re having in trying to figure it out isn’t over. This doesn’t sound very encouraging or hopeful does it? I mean, if you’ve tried to figure it out for years and you feel no closer to doing so, what kind of hope or optimism can you have for the future? Will it always be a mental struggle to find that thing that makes you happy?

What if we accepted for a moment that there wasn’t one thing and one thing only after all? What if there isn’t just a single career that we were meant to do or someone we were meant to become? Maybe what’s right for us, what we were destined to do all along is a collection of various jobs and different types of work. Perhaps it’s a collection of experiences that taken together makes us the people we’ll become.

So when I was happy selling shoes, maybe I was in the right job at the time, although it’s not a good fit for me here in the present. For all I know, I might find that selling shoes is right for me in the future by the way. Maybe running my business for 16 years was the ideal thing for the Kelly of the 80’s and 90’s. But Kelly in 2018? I’m happy and stimulated being the best Employment Counsellor I can be. In fact, it’s that whole collection of earlier jobs and work that benefits those I help in my current job!

Now you. YOU! Feeling anxiety and pressure – maybe even depression or that feeling of being paralyzed as you try to figure it out? Understandable – completely. You’re feelings are valid. This is after all, one of the BIG ones – “What should I do?”

While you may not know yet what you should do, what is obvious is that it’s NOT what you’re currently doing. So if you’re stuck and doing nothing, continuing to do nothing isn’t going to get you closer to it. Do something. Act. Talk. Invest yourself. Work. Experience the value of experience.

‘Why’ Not ‘What’ The Key To What To Be?


There are all kinds of jobs in this world from the mundane to the adventurous, from the physically straining to the mentally stimulating. Some require stamina to do the same task day after day and some require imagination and innovation to create new possibilities through trial and error. The tools to perform jobs can range from swinging handheld items to operating massive machinery; from a simple pencil to a robotic arm. There are a myriad of jobs out there, be they in cities of stone and glass, forests of green or pastures of gold.

And for every job, there are people best suited to do them. Some of us are physically strong, others the thinkers, the visionaries, recorders of history, we’ve leaders and followers, labourers and intellectuals. When it comes to work, we as a species engage in all kinds of activities, in all kinds of working conditions, be it water, on or under the land, the air or even space.

Often what we do for work is largely determined or influenced by where in the world we are born and then raised, the status of our family, the inclination of those who care for and influence us to expose us to a few or many different kinds of experiences. When we are born, where we are born, to whom we are born; all factor in to the opportunities we have.

There are those of course who will tout that you can be anything you put your mind to, and they may be right – if of course you are born into a society where you have the freedom to choose and the opportunities are there to seize. This freedom to be anything, aspire to be everything we want – limited only by our imagination and our own determination is empowering! Yet, this seemingly limitless potential can also have an unexpected and adverse affect.

With so many choices of what we might do with the time we have, it can be debilitating and paralyzing. After all, what if we get it wrong? What if we choose one career and work towards it only to discover that it doesn’t bring us the fulfillment that we’d hoped. While it makes others happy we know, it doesn’t bring us the satisfaction they promised it would. We believed them when they said we’d find it gratifying and rewarding, but it hasn’t turned out that way. At least we tried it! Or what if we simply arrived at a crossroads having to choose between 2, 3 or 4 possible careers that seemed mutually exclusive – very different indeed – and being unable to commit to one ‘dream’ occupation for fear of turning our back on the others, we’ve simply found ourselves immobilized – and in a flash, years have rolled by and we’re still standing still undecided?

There’s this immense fear we’ll get it wrong. Of course, some would say, “Ah, but what if we get it right?!” We might be amazing in what we do and more importantly even if we’re just an average worker in what we’ve chosen, we could still be extremely happy and satisfied. But would we possibly wonder, “What if I’d chosen that other path in life? What might I have done?”

Of course we aren’t limited to one career.  Think on that… Up until we’re in our late teens, we don’t have to be anything largely but a student – well, again – depending on where we are born in the world. In our early 20’s we begin to ‘be’ something. We who are older know this isn’t a life-long obligation; we’ll change jobs and careers during our life and some of these new choices will be in the same field and at times into a new one. After maybe 40 years of work, we might plan on ceasing to ‘work’ for pay and then work for play. Well, that’s some people’s plan.

Talk with enough people and you’ll find competent, skilled people performing their jobs without the least bit of enthusiasm for the job. Good enough to keep doing what they do, benefitting the companies and the people they work on behalf of, but no longer stimulated and in love with the job. They’ve become comfortable, their income and lives stable, and so they live out their lives.

There are those too who take chances; who quit jobs for fear they’ll become stale in them, who seek fresh challenges, new opportunities, gamble on trends and being out front as frontiers. They need not explore new lands, but they reinvent themselves, never-ceasing to learn and place themselves in the process to seize upon possibilities.

We’re all so different, so uniquely, ‘us’.  What one finds pleasurable, rewarding, stimulating and satisfying might do for another or not. The key is perhaps to find out not what job we want to do, but why it is we want to do it. Toddlers may have it right when they ask incessantly, “Why?”

When we discover the, ‘why’ in why we want to do something, we are closer to discovering the ‘what’. How peculiar it might be if instead of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” which locks us into a single profession, we asked, “What motivates you? What inspires or stimulates you?” These are the what’s that get to the why’s.  Then we might discover there are many jobs that would equally stimulate us by fulfilling our ‘why’s’. That perhaps, is very wise indeed.

Stuck On Picking A Career


Sometimes we get stuck right? I mean, we have a vague idea of what it is we think we’d like, but as I say, it’s a vague or general idea. This is when we say things such as,, “Well I’d like to work with animals,” “I want to help people”, or “I’m good with my hands.” While these kind of statements are good starting places and represent an early first step in career decision-making, some people will get stuck moving beyond one of these broad sweeping statements.

While it might seem pretty common for people in their late teens and early 20’s to be typically thinking about what to do career-wise and getting stuck, it can happen to anyone at any time. Take you . Uh huh, you.

Have you got one of those LinkedIn titles that says, “Open to new opportunities”? No? Maybe yours says, “Looking to make a difference!” or “Seeking new challenges.” Ah, so you do have one of these or something close to one.  Even after having read any of these three, the reader is still no closer to knowing what it is you want. This is because you don’t either. Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself you’re being deliberately vague so you keep your options open. Sure. I’ve seen a lot of resumes over the years that start with the same kind of statements; “Looking for an opportunity to use my skills and grow with the company”. Even after having read that opening objective statement, the goal is still completely unknown. What a waste of 13 words on the résumé!

The problem however, is defining not just to the world, but to ourselves, what it is we want to do. If we could do that, then we could figure out the steps we need to take to move closer to our goal. We could for example figure out that we need a certain Diploma, Course or Degree and then happily invest the time and money to go pursue it; confidently knowing that we’re on the right track and with every day getting closer to our ultimate employment goal.

However, isn’t the real issue here that we don’t often know – that is – YOU don’t know what the end goal is? I mean, that’s what makes the idea of school and its associated cost so intimidating right? I mean, sure going to school to get more knowledge is great but with no goal, what if we choose wrong? What if we end up spending thousands of dollars and 2 or 3 years of our life in school only to find that we don’t really want to do whatever it is we’re in school for by the time we graduate? That would definitely be a waste of time and money and we’d be no further ahead. Or so we’ve told ourselves over and over.

So you’re paralyzed; stuck. Every day seems like spinning the same record around and around, trying to decide what to do? What to be? Look up the song, “Big Time Operator” by Keith Hampshire. Figure out this one thing and you’re good to go.

Okay so let’s see if we can’t help out here. Start with giving yourself both the permission to get going and forgiveness if you get it wrong. Who told you that you have to get it right this time or your entire life is a failure? That’s just not true. Work, for all its worth, is only one part of who you are; one part of what defines you.

To find a career, let me simplify things. First you need to be exposed to some possibilities and then you investigate them. You can gain exposure to careers a number of ways. Talk to people and ask them what they do, ask your local employment centre what careers are in demand, use the internet and search careers in your vague, generalized areas of choice. “Helping people careers”, “Jobs with animals” or “Physical jobs”, “Manual labour careers”.  You can also search what are called, “NOC CODES.” National Occupation Classification codes. You can search by skills, or even an alphabetical listing and see what jobs exist; many you might be entirely unaware of. So these ideas give you exposure.

Now, having exposed yourself to more possibilities that might interest you, choose a few and start investigating. Before looking to see how much the job is in demand or how much it pays, you’ll want to know if this is something that only sounds good or if it sounds good and in fact it interests you once you’ve done some research.

Find people in the roles you’re considering and talk to them. Set up meetings, email them some questions, have some conversations. Learn what’s good and bad, what skills and education are needed, how they got started and how they’d get started today if they were just beginning as things may have changed. Then ask them for the names of others you might talk to.

The more you learn, the more you’ll feel the job is right for you or not. When you start getting enthusiastic about a job, look into education requirements, the labour market, where the opportunities are. Still interested? Feeling on the right track? That’s because you are! But to get to this point, you have to get moving.

Remember how long you’ve been stuck where you are and know that continuing to do nothing won’t move you forward.

Re-Inventing Yourself?


Whether by choice or necessity, have you ever, or are you now in a place where you’re re-inventing yourself? You know, moving in a completely new direction from what you’ve typically done work-wise in the past. Depending on your circumstances, this can be an exhilarating time of hope, possibilities and uncharted exploration, or it can be fraught with stress, desperation, anxiety and worry.

So, is it starting to sound like I’m speaking to you directly? There’s actually a good chance that this resonates with you to some degree because all of us have times in our lives where we assume new roles. This is important to both hear and comprehend; all of us go through this.

It’s true you know… becoming a teenager then an adult, being a parent or grandparent, the first job where we joined the ranks of the employed, leaving one job for another. There are all kinds of moments in our lives when we transitioned from one role to another. But somehow, changing your career at this particular time in your life seems markedly different from all those other transitions. This is magnified when you feel forced to make the change instead of initiating change out of a personal desire.

For a lot of folks, the anxiety is stirred up wondering what to actually do. It’s like that year in high school where you had to make a decision on what you wanted to be when you grew up. As awkward as that period might have felt way back then, it pales in comparison to the present where you’re no longer 17 or 18 years old with your entire work life in front of you. No, now you’re looking at yourself and wondering, “what am I going to do at my age?”

For the men and women who have been in positions of labour their whole lives, this idea of needing a new vocation could be brought about because their bodies are no longer able to take the physical demands of their trade. While the body is refusing to do what it’s always done, the brain is fully capable and stress is caused because the work they’ve done is only what they know. It’s like laying bricks for 37 years and then the back and knees give out, so the Bricklayer struggles trying to figure out what else they could do.

Sometimes the body isn’t the problem though. Sometimes the prevailing problem is of a mental rather than physical issue; the need to change careers is however just as valid. For many, there is still the notion – completely wrong in my opinion – that a mental health issue needs to be concealed, while a physical issue can be more easily shared and understood. So the person with two bad knees and a back issue gets empathy and understanding while the person with anxiety and depression draws more skepticism and doubt. As a result, some people hide their mental health challenges as long as they can, thereby making it difficult if not impossible to get the very support and help they need to move forward.

A good place to start when you have to re-invent yourself is taking stock of what you have on hand. Imagine yourself on a ship with your destination fully known and suddenly waking up one day to find yourself shipwrecked on an island. You need to survive so you take stock of what resources you have. You don’t go off exploring your surroundings without first taking your bearings and assessing your needs and your resources.

Using that analogy, you’ve gone through – or are going through – the shock of an abrupt change in your work life. The future is going to be very different from your past and while you understand this on an intellectual level, you’re at that crossroads trying to figure out in what direction to move. You’re worried perhaps that with the limited time and resources you have available, you can’t afford to just move in any old direction in case you choose wrong. If only you could look ahead and see the rewards and pitfalls in all directions and then decide. Life doesn’t always work this way though; as you more than anyone has just found out because you didn’t foresee where you are now in your future just a few years ago.

So take stock of your skills, experiences both paid and volunteer. What did you like and dislike about the work you’ve done in the past. What are you physically capable of and mentally able to take on? It may be that the very best thing you can do is give yourself the gift of a short break. Yes money might be tight but if you can free up funds for a short trip to somewhere you feel good in, you may do wonders for your mental health.

Getting a booklet on courses from a community college or university might enlighten you  to jobs you haven’t considered; and you might discover funding assistance at the same time to go back to school if you wish.

This crossroads you’re in could be a blessing too. You’ve got time now to really think about what to do with your life; something some people who dislike their current jobs would envy you for. When you’re ready, and definitely not before, reach out and share your thoughts with someone you who’ll listen with an open mind.

All the very best as always!