Thursday, August 10, 2006

Are You Happy With Your Job?

There's an article on msn's careerbuilder site entitled Nine Steps to a Perfect Career Fit that you may find interesting. I occasionally check this site out for tips on improving my own career and sometimes I find something that jumps out at me.

Half of all Americans are unhappy in their jobs, according to findings by the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group. In addition, most people can expect three to five career changes and 10 or more job changes in their working years, reports the U.S. Department of Labor.

This isn't exactly surprising news, is it? The article begins with the story of a man who has had more than 20 jobs already as well as several career changes. I think I've had more than 20 jobs myself and 3 or 4 career changes as an adult. Is it time for another? The article offers some good points to consider when asking this question.

It lists nine questions to ask in order to find the ideal career choice. I won't recap the entire list, but the first few questions are really important ones that I don't think are always included in our decision-making with regard to jobs. The article suggests you examine your own abilities and interests first and also what motivates you to succeed.

These are important things to consider that are often overlooked. Many people, myself included, start out life with the idea that they should get into a career that's in demand and that pays well. Little thought is given to whether that career is suitable or not.

I remember speaking to a high school guidance counselor before applying to college. He told me that I would do fine with my choice of majors, engineering, despite having had serious problems with both calculus and physics my senior year. Looking back, my interest in engineering stemmed mostly from the "cool" factor of "being" an engineer rather than a real passion for the math and science involved. I was also attracted by the starting salary of around $25,000 for engineering graduates, which at that time was darn good.

What's humorous about this whole thing is that I excelled in english and spanish courses in high school, getting straight A's in each for four years. During this entire time I'd also struggled a great deal with math and science. So why did I take that path?

The common wisdom in our culture is that jobs aren't supposed to be fun or enjoyable, by and large. Sure, we're expected to derive some satisfaction from our employment, but it's not expected to be something we're passionate about. In fact, jobs are expected to be mostly painful and tedious. We slave in our cubicles or factory station for 30 or 40 years, enjoying our annual two weeks of vacation, and then hobble around a golf course for a decade or so as a geriatric wreck. Is this how things should be?

Ironically, I've just finished up a degree in English Literature and Writing after years of working in engineering and computer software. What does this mean and where will it lead me? Time will tell.

This is a topic I'm keenly interested in and there are plenty of ideas to explore in future posts. For now, asking these questions can help us to determine if we are really happy with how we're spending our 40 or more hours a week, slaving away.



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