Career change: how can I find out what I REALLY want?

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Everyone around you seems to have the perfect job. But you? You haven't been so lucky. You no longer get satisfaction from your work. Your job is consuming too much of your energy. You have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. You want something different: a new job, a boost to your career, more pleasure in your work, and... lots more. But you quickly lose your courage. Because, what exactly do you want?

Who am I?

To figure this out, you have to go back to the beginning: to yourself. To who you are. To your characteristics and what you think is important. Which words best describe you? What do you want to get out of life? Do you find honesty important? Is family a priority to you or do you want to earn a lot of money? We call the things that are important to you your values. This is the dot on your horizon, a sort of compass for you. The things that you get out of bed for each day and look forward to. There is a good chance that examining what you find important will give you guidelines for what you want to do with your career.

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Personal values

Unfortunately, finding your personal values isn't an automatic process. This was demonstrated by a professor named Timothy Wilson*, who posited that you don't find your values by simply thinking about your own thoughts and feelings. No, we need a trick for this. That's because you can identify your values if you look at yourself from a distance. So what do you need to do? Observe yourself in situations when you were at your very best. Can you think of a few? Situations where you felt that you handled everything perfectly and were in the flow? These types of experiences gives you insight into the things that you find very important. What was the situation really about? What gave you such a thrill? The word or image that pops into your head after asking these questions is your value. And it will help you find pleasure in your work again.

What do I want?

When you've (re)discovered your values, at least you know what you want. You can proceed from there. Your values are your tools in your continued search. They will give direction to your new job. If your value is family, then it may be a good idea to look for a job that's close to your home. If a sustainable lifestyle is important to you, you could look for a job at certain environmentally conscious companies, or start your own sustainable business. What kind of job would be a good fit for your values?

Source: Strangers to Ourselves. Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious (2005), Timothy Wilson
Goud, Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel and Aveline Dijkman.

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