Career Advice: Coaching By Cath

How To Decide How To Change Your Career Direction When Your Job Is Cheesing You Off
01/06/2012

So you're trying to figure out what's important to you and what direction to take your career. And if you're a member of Gen-X or Gen-Y, then you've probably been told that you must find "meaning" in your work, and you must be doing what you love, in order to be happy...

Aargh! Extra pressure! And the worst part is when you read those personal development books about finding your passion, and they say, "Figure out what you love and pour your heart into that for the rest of your life." If only it was that easy!

The Problem Is That We Often Don't Know What We Are Good At
Because our school systems and company appraisal systems have taught us to focus on our weaknesses. And we often don't know what we love to do, because years of focusing on trying to improve our weaknesses, worrying about how good we are at stuff, trying to fit in and please people and having everything and everyone measured and judged has sent us down a rabbit-hole that leads us further and further from what we love. But despite all this confusion, there is a part of you that already knows what's best for you when it comes to finding work you'll love. And a great way to get back in touch with that knowing starts with getting in touch with what's really cheesing you off. Because even though we often don't know what we want and would love, we always know what we don't want, and what really annoys us. And that can be a seriously sneaky route into figuring out what direction to take your career in next Here's how it works:

The Sneaky Route To Figuring Out What Career Move To Make Next
Write down everything you can think of that's really annoyed you recently. Think of interactions you've had with people at work, where they've said things that got you seriously riled. Think of stuff you saw on the news or Twitter that relates to your industry that cheesed you off. Think of movies that raised your heart rate, stuff you read about your industry that you felt compelled to tell others about so you could express your outrage. Think of your work "hot buttons” in general: what points of view or behaviors would be guaranteed to get you ranting and raving in your job?

Mining Your Anger
All emotions are useful and serve a positive purpose, even if they feel awful and have negative consequences. Anger is an emotion that we're particularly socialized against, especially if you're a woman. But anger is actually a really useful indicator of what's important to you. If you're feeling angry, it's because you're thinking that something that's important to you is at risk. So, if something or someone has really been infuriating you this week at work, you can mine your anger and use it to discover what's important to you. Here's how: Look at your list of things that have infuriated you, and ask yourself, "What must be important to me in my work, for me to feel so angry about that? What was important to me in my work, that I felt the need to defend or protect?” Convert your "I don't want..." into an "I want..." Look at what you've written about the stuff that's really annoying you and the stuff you don't want to have to deal with in your work, and then ask yourself, "What do I want instead?"

So, if you're feeling a bit direction-less and frustrated at work and, particularly if you feel like you have a short fuse at work at the moment, take a few minutes to mine your anger and figure out what's important to you in your work. If you're already living in alignment with what's important to you, you'll probably find that the anger dissolves when you acknowledge the value within it. If your anger is sticking around, or if you find it increases when you do this exercise, then ask yourself what adjustments you need to make to your work, so that you're living in alignment with what's important to you - and go and make those adjustments and watch your anger melt away. So now I'm dying to know your "pet peeve” lists - what drives you mad, and what does that say about what's important to you at work?

Author: Cath Duncan

Cath DuncanCath Duncan is a life and leadership coach and CareerJunction's resident Career Coach. Through one-to-one coaching and projects like the Bottom-line Bookclub, Cath helps people learn the Agile Living Strategies for thriving at work in this high-change era.

Read more about Cath | Get in touch with Cath

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