Most of us have taken the path of least resistance when choosing (or being chosen by) our careers.

You took a job based on your education or connections, or you sought a job that you believed would allow you to make “a good living.” Maybe you felt compelled to keep the family business going.

While the years roll on, did it ever occur to you that having a degree from Yale doesn’t mean you must work at a Fortune 500 company? And perhaps you never had the passion your father or mother, grandfather or grandmother did to run the biggest furniture store in town. It is not your mission simply to “make a good living” but rather create a good life.

Look in the Mirror

You can’t really understand the opportunities available to you if you first don’t take the time to look at who you really are. Then use that information to help you decide what you will do and who you will become.

Think about the things you truly believe in. What are your natural strengths and abilities – your natural talents, the things that are you and give you a sense of self-worth and fulfillment?

Now think about the job you currently have. How often do you get the opportunity to use these talents?

Seventy percent of people are currently working in jobs that are not best suited for them. In one survey, 80% of today’s attorneys said they wished they could change professions.

The Self-Assessment

A valuable exercise to undertake is a self-assessment. If you begin with your governing values (the things that matter most to you in your life) you will end up with an established target: a job or type of job that identifiably fits your personality.

Carefully consider and prioritize the following issues: What type of work would you love to do (regardless of pay)? What valuable skills do you have or do you need to acquire? What are your geographical requirements (preferred cities or states, climates, etc.)? What are the needs and concerns of your family? Will your family support the move? Are you willing to move away from close relatives? What do you consider to be the ideal corporate environment? Do you work better alone or as part of a team? Is a small or large company more enticing to you, and why? Are you a self-starter or do you work better when motivated by sources outside of yourself?

People who are doing what they love do not need an alarm clock to wake them up in the morning. Quality of life goes way up when you have a lifestyle instead of a job.

Too Late for Me?

Sounds great, right? But, you may feel trapped by your current job or career path. You have a family to support, a mortgage to pay and a host of other debts that need to be serviced by your current sources of income.

But if you are working simply to make money so you can “look good,” have material abundance, or to give that money to creditors, then are you really living? You are not alone when you think of putting this “scary” exercise off. The question is: Is the life you are creating for yourself worth the effort?

Do What You Love!

In 1992, Dave Mingey graduated from Boston College with a degree in Communications and English; his ticket to launching a career in public relations.

A family connection landed him an interview with mega accounting firm Arthur Anderson. Mingey was hired by the European branch of Arthur Anderson, allowing him to live in London and Paris doing PR work and making what he called “good money.” This is a success story. But something wasn’t right.

“I hated it,” says Mingey. “I got a great job doing what I had been trained to do. The international travel, the money, everything was wonderful. But I don’t know squat about the accounting products I was promoting. I didn’t have passion for the work I was doing, and it made it very difficult to both enjoy and excel in my job.”

Mingey took the time to consider, “What if I could use my knowledge of public relations to promote something I actually cared about?” Soon Mingey was in New York City, living on a futon in a friend’s apartment, and working as an unpaid intern with no promise of full-time employment. He had given up a “great job” earning “good money” for this? Why? The job for which he was not being paid for was in the communications department at Sports Illustrated.

He was admittedly a glorified errand boy, but he had gotten his foot in the door. Literally, Mingey had sent a rubber foot to the director of communications at Sports Illustrated along with his resume and a note that read, “At least I got my foot in the door at Sports Illustrated.” It worked. He now had an opportunity to combine his employable skills with his passion, sports.

Four months as an intern led to six months as a junior publicist followed by one year as a publicist. Then, three years after getting in the door, Mingey, at age 26, was the senior publicist at Sports Illustrated.

How did he rise through the ranks so fast? “Your career should mirror your real ambition in life. Your idea of success should not have to compromise your health or happiness. When you’re happy in your work, it’s easier to succeed.”

Mingey now has the foundation which will set him up for a solid career in sports promotion.

Where to Find Yourself

There are many resources available to people who wish to make an assessment of themselves and their careers. Quiet time alone will allow you to focus on these evaluations. But there are established tests and questionnaires that will give you more detailed information about the jobs and careers best suited for you. Some of these resources are free while some require a fee.

Following is our shopping list of career resources:

College career centers offer many valuable resources. Call the career center at a nearby college and arrange to take a career orientation questionnaire.

Sports Careers offers tons of resources to help individuals get started or move forward in their sports career. Sports Careers offers sports job listing, resume bank, career articles and much more.

Public libraries in most major cities now have career resource centers and many also employ a person who is trained to assist you in such matters.

The World Wide Web offers many resources. You can even search for available positions and e-mail your resume to companies you wish to work for. Try a web search with the key word “career” as a starter.

Books include: Lawrence G. Boldt, How to Find the Work You Love; Paul and Sarah Edwards, Finding the Perfect Work; Paul D. Tieger, Do What You Are; and Richard Nelson Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?

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