Unsure about your career path? Try this.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

This rather interesting question was posed to me in a conversation a while back. Initially, I would suggest taking stock of strengths and weaknesses and compare what you like and don’t like about a current role. I would also take a look at assessments like MBTI, Talent Dynamics, Holland Interest Codes, for insight on tendencies and skill preference. I think insights are valuable and sometimes an external perspective gives you the chance to see something you hadn’t before.

A few weeks after this question was asked, I had a discussion with a mental health professional that’s been in the field for a number of years. I’ve found those in helping professions sometimes struggle with fatigue or burnout. I was curious how he would view this same question. Interestingly enough, he had the same conversation 20 years prior and shared a fascinating insight.

He told a story of when he was at a crossroad in his profession. Organizational politics were intruding, changes in regulation and insurance were creating more hurdles and the work just wasn’t feeling the same to him. It brought about doubts and questions. So, my acquaintance talked with his clinical supervisor about these concerns and was given an interesting challenge. His supervisor told him to become good, really good, at some new aspect of his job. Then, revisit those same concerns and determine if this line of work was truly for him.

My acquaintance accepted the challenge and picked an area of focus. Next, he sought out professional development. That year he took classes, met professionals, and supported community organizations that needed assistance in that particular area. He says it was the best thing he ever did. It allowed him to find something he truly enjoyed. As a result he was able to serve in a way he felt was rewarding. It also helped him gain some new perspective on the areas of his profession he felt were becoming more restrictive like regulations and organizational issues. Twenty years later he’s still practicing.

With the New Year upon us, many professionals will likely be asking, “Is this career path right for me? Am I in the right role? Should I be doing something else?” I’m also guessing many of you will also be writing your annual reviews and pondering goals for 2016. So I would like to extend the same challenge to my readers. In 2016, find something you want to get better at and put together a plan to achieve that goal. Don’t forget to make it strategic!

  1. Define what ‘really good’ means to you
  2. Explore ways to learn
  3. Experiment. Try a ‘recipe’ and then try it again with a slight deviation
  4. Find who can teach you more and ask them questions
  5. Tell people that you’re getting good and create a level of accountability
  6. Constantly evaluate, refine and tweak

Some people do New Year’s resolutions; others do the 3 word theme of the year. Try the this approach and see how it works for you. I tried this in 2015 and saw good progress in both mental and physical challenges I gave myself. What will you ‘Get Good’ at this year?

About Jason Mueller

Jason is a career and development coach, residing in south east Wisconsin. He has earned his Business Coaching certificate from UW-Milwaukee and worked with clients in business and career coaching at the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education. Jason says he does everything with empathy, compassion and the client's best interests in mind. He’s found that he can do anything well by being genuine, useful, present and vulnerable. With a degree in religion, years in theater, experience in business, and a dry sense of humor Jason’s unconventional wisdom helps him connect the dots. You can find his website here or connect with him on Twitter and G+.

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