How to Be Your Own Career Expert

No one knows what kind of work turns you on better than you do.

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Curt Rosengren
Who do you think knows what’s best for you? Your parents? Your coworkers? The guy with the fancy car that lives two doors down? Or you?

[See the best careers for 2010.]

If you posed that question to most people, they wouldn’t hesitate to say “I do!” And I couldn’t agree more. Yet most people don’t actually make career decisions that reflect that belief. Don’t believe me? Then consider this. I’ve seen study after study showing that more than 50 percent of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs. Think about it. That means that every second person you see behind the wheel at rush hour is coming home from a job they’re unhappy with.

If people were really listening to what they know is best for them, do you think they would be making those career choices? The sad truth is that most people make their career decisions based on external factors. Parental expectations. Society’s definition of success. What “they” will think. Money. Status.

[See if having passion for your work matters.]

Are those things important? Some are, some aren’t. But none of them have anything to do with what will leave a person feeling energized and engaged. And because people are using an external compass to direct their careers, they typically wind up off course.

If you want to create a career that lights you up, you have to start by looking inside. Unlock your self-expertise. Take time to ask the important questions, such as:

  • What do I love doing, and why?
  • When am I at my best?
  • What feels right to me?
  • What inspires me?
  • What would I do if I got paid by how the work I do makes me feel?
  • What will I regret not pursuing when I look back at the end of my life?
  • [See 7 questions for every career changer.]

    There are a million great self-exploration questions. But for them to do you the faintest lick of good, you have to ask them. And then you have to start putting the resulting insights to use. Even if a big career change isn’t in the cards in the near future, you can start looking for ways to use your self-expertise in the decisions you make. Find ways to bring more of what energizes you into your life. Look for opportunities to engage in the kinds of things that inspire you, if even on a small level.

    You create your life – including your career – one choice at a time. The more you rely on your self-expertise to make those choices, the richer and more fulfilling your experience will be.

    After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.