Career Master Planning: How to Find Work You Love to Do
- Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Are you … dissatisfied with your job? At a career crossroads, not sure whether to continue in the same job or to make a change to a new job or career? In school, feeling uncertain about how to choose a career that will be interesting and fulfilling? Concerned that you will soon be downsized" at your company? Feeling anxious and confused about what to do?
Or, are you grappling with knowing what God wants you to do with your career and life? Has the Lord been at work within you in a new way? Are you are feeling an emerging desire to serve Him in new ways through your work, but the specific direction is not yet clear to you?
If you are experiencing situations similar to the above, you are not alone! To live is to grow and change, and nowhere is that more evident these days than in the world of work. We are living in a time of transition and change. Approximately ten percent of the U.S. workforce changes jobs or careers each year -- in a recent year that meant that ten million workers went through the career/job change process!
A season of career change can be triggered by external events such as being laid off, moving to a new city, finishing an educational program, getting married or divorced, having a baby, starting school or leaving home. Internal "nudges" can also compel you to contemplate making a job change: perhaps you feel unfulfilled or dissatisfied by work you previously enjoyed, maybe you have "outgrown" your job and now feel underemployed or under utilized, or perhaps you have experienced significant spiritual growth, resulting in a change in your outlook, goals and values.
Although making career/job changes is something most people will experience 8-10 times during their lives, most people do not know how to choose a career direction effectively. The majority of people do not make an actual career choice; rather, they let circumstances or other people dictate their path. For example, when we meet with someone new in our career counseling practice, our clients often describe "falling into" their job or career path: "Uncle Joe told me about an opening at his company, and I've been there ever since" or "My friend was majoring in accounting, so I decided to become an accountant" or "I was skimming the classified ads, this job caught my eye, they offered it to me and so I took it even though I didn't know much about the job or the company."
Letting other people or circumstances direct one's course often results in taking the path of least resistance, which usually leads to one or more of the following outcomes:
- Becoming dissatisfied, unhappy and/or stressed (which impacts one's physical and emotional health as well as family/friend relationships and all other aspects of one's life)
- Being underemployed, underpaid and underappreciated
- Feeling unprepared and even "victimized" in the event of a lay-off or other external change
- Having a lowered sense of self-worth and ability
- Struggling with one's relationship with God -- feeling confusion, distrust and even anger about the perceived lack of God's "leading" in one's life.
So what is the alternative? Proactively PLANNING your career and life! Most people spend more time planning their vacations than they do planning their careers and lives! Why? Usually it is because they either don't see the need to invest time and energy in career planning, or they just don't know how to go about it. (Our schools, universities and seminaries haven't done a very good job, unfortunately, of teaching people how to chart a course for their careers and lives.)
Taking responsibility for and learning how to plan your career optimizes your potential to produce these outcomes in your life:
- Experiencing the satisfaction that comes from using your most enjoyed skills and abilities within meaningful work
- Creating a life that supports your physical and emotional well-being, your relationships with family and friends, and other important aspects of your life
- Achieving your financial potential within your career area as well as gaining the respect and appreciation of others
- Developing "employment security" (the ability to secure appropriate employment quickly in the event of an unexpected job/income loss)
- Having confidence about how to make job/career changes as the marketplace or your career goals change
- Knowing you are working in partnership with God to discover your mission in life and to determine how to be a good steward of your gifts and abilities within work
- Living life as a joyful witness to God's goodness and provision in your life.
In our career counseling private practice, we guide our clients through a process we call "Career Master Planning." As we use the term, "master planning" means developing a plan that gives overall guidance in your career and life; and, it means that we, as Christians, should view career/life planning as a spiritual process in which we acknowledge that there is a Master (God) who is sovereign in our lives. As Proverbs 16:9 states, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."
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