How Achieving Career Goals is Linked to Improved Happiness and Satisfaction in Life
If you are not happy in your current career, or within a job that you have held with the same employer for a long period of time, you can start with a personal career inventory to evaluate what changes you may consider altering your career path.
There are many resources available online and through career coaching that can help you analyze your current career trajectory and goals, but we would like to share a few questions that can get you started.
1. What would your ideal work day look like?
Short and paid exceptionally well? Don’t worry, we all feel that way. But evaluate what kind of job functions fill your day, and whether you find them to be enjoyable, disruptive or stressful. For instance, if you prefer semi-independent desk work but your current role requires non-stop meetings, chats, calls or online collaboration, it is likely to be stressful for you. Map out the kind of day and workweek that you would love to have, and see if your current role comes close to matching your ideal.
2. Do you enjoy working with large groups, or independently?
For some people, a meeting to collaborate is exciting. Not only is it a chance to listen and learn creative ideas from others, but it is also stressful for other types who prefer quiet, more focused work environments and tasks. Where do you fall on the spectrum of working with others in large or small groups currently with your present role?
3. What job functions and tasks do you enjoy most in your current position?
We all have aspects of our jobs that we dislike, but in balance, there should also be activities, projects and functions that you thoroughly enjoy. Make a list of projects that you find fulfilling and tasks that are challenging but enjoyable in your current career. It can offer some valuable insights.
4. What do you dislike about your present job?
Be objective when making a list of things you dislike about your job, career and the organization that you work for. Take a long-term view, and consider responsibilities that you find stressful, perhaps boring or otherwise unengaging. This list is actionable, and you may have more things you dislike about your current job, than activities you enjoy and find rewarding.
5. Would you like a job that offered the opportunity to travel?
Are you available to travel? Does the idea of traveling for business intrigue you? While some professionals find careers that require travel to be exhausting, others thrive on the opportunity to meet new people and experience growth outside the office. If your current job requires travel and it is disruptive to your personal life, or unworkable, it may be time to make a change.
6. What kind of corporate culture do you aspire to be part of?
Corporate culture is one way that employers compete to recruit and then retain, talented workers and executive leadership. Each corporate culture is unique, but identifying what fits best for your work and social style, will help you determine if your current employer is a good fit.
Do you appreciate structure, and a traditional bureaucratic environment? Many people do because the rules and structure allow them to closely define their work and performance responsibilities. Less formal work environments can be creative hotspots, but also extroverted by nature and uncomfortable for some personality types. Open, innovative and highly collaborative, or more private, traditional and conventional? What kind of workplace suits you best?
7. Are you thinking of changing careers or the industry you work in?
It is not uncommon for people in demanding careers such as the technology sector, to feel tired, or disillusioned with their career. Over time, the things you found challenging are no longer as interesting as they were when you first started to gain experience in your field. In fact, it can feel like your career is stuck in a rut, if you have lost interest in it.
One path that some career professionals take is a sabbatical from salaried work. Transitioning to full-time freelance work takes time, and many people launch a side-gig opportunity while they are employed first. We never recommend that candidates jump head first into the income risky world of sub-contract consulting and freelance, but people who aren’t sure about their career sometimes find that self-employment rejuvenates their commitment to their job and industry. It can also be a valuable short-term opportunity to expand your business network and gain new highly-marketable skills.
8. How willing and able are you to engage in job retraining?
If you are considering retraining to launch a new career, it is important to be prepared for more than a few changes. The first notable change may be to income, as starting in an industry where you have less experience can mean a substantial pay cut. For some, a radical change to an unrelated field means a roll back to entry-level salary. The good news is that with transferrable skills, escalating with experience is easier, especially with a solid career strategy to advance yourself and fast-track the development of your new role.
9. Do you feel your current salary is competitive within your industry and sector?
In recruiting, the question “are you satisfied with your current salary?” is often met with a pause. From entry-level graduates to senior executives, few people respond that they are completely satisfied with what they are being paid in their current role. It’s human nature to aspire for higher pay, and while salary is not the only indicant of job satisfaction, we know it is an important part of feeling valued within an organization.
Take some time to drill down into online data, reports on job seeking sites and other resources to determine a true regional average salary range for your role. Remember to consider years of service, education, certifications and other criteria that tend to increase salary for similar professionals in your industry. When you have an accurate picture of the average regional salary range, you’ll have a better idea if your pay is competitive when compared to peers.
A labor market review of salary ranges and job responsibilities is a valuable exercise that all professionals should make time for, on an annual basis. It will deepen your understanding of your job and industry, and salary potential in your region.
10. Is the idea of leaving your current employer upsetting or exciting to you?
Is your dissatisfaction with your current job or employer situational or terminal? This is an introspective question that all career professionals need to ask themselves. Did something recently happen where you felt you were treated unfairly? Were you overlooked for advancement or a pay increase that left you feeling demoralized and less motivated?
Situational issues with job satisfaction can be fixed. Professionals can talk to the human resource professional for the organization, to express frustration and to ask for career coaching and guidance. Asking for help from your manager in an honest dialogue, can strengthen the professional relationship, and reaffirm that you are committed to the organization long-term. If you are a top performer, the employer should be eager to listen and offer advice and practical tools. It may also be an opportunity to indicate an interest in advancement, and query about continuing education and professional development opportunities within the organization.
If your ‘gut instinct’ tells you that you do not wish to leave your current employer, follow that indication, and look for ways to feel more gratified and engaged in your current role. However, if there is no sense of regret or hesitation when considering the idea of a new job, with a new organization, then it may be time to talk to a recruitment agency and start reviewing other career prospects.
Remember that your best performance, and ultimate personal satisfaction comes from doing what you love. Since the average worker spends between 35-45 hours per week in the workplace, it’s important to feel positive about what you do, and who you work for.