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The Secret to Discovering Your True Career

The Secret to Discovering Your True Career

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Dear J.T. & Dale: I am 31 years old and haven’t found a true career. I have worked numerous jobs since I was 15, but have never kept one longer than nine months. I need some serious help. – Nate

J.T.: First off, assuming you haven’t been fired from all those jobs, I find it fabulous that you’ve had so many jobs – yes, fabulous. The fact that you keep trying new things tells me that you aren’t content to just “collect a paycheck”; instead, you keep working to find your true career or calling. Plus, you aren’t afraid to move on or to experiment.

DALE: All that experimentation means you have lots of data points to help you figure out what aspects of work are most appealing to you. Make a list of your five favorite jobs, and alongside each one, list its attributes and benefits. You should see some patterns.

J.T.: But here’s a problem I see when I work with clients with backgrounds like yours: Even when their jobs start out as engaging, they jump ship as soon as the job feels the slightest bit boring. This is where a career coach can be invaluable. (I maintain a list of coaches at workitdaily.com.) A coach can help you look for a new direction within a career and help you stick with it past the honeymoon phase. You’ll soon find yourself developing a new skill set: The ability to look for new challenges and opportunities within a career.

DALE: A good coach will help you understand the critical workplace reality that it’s efficient for companies to create jobs where employees repeat tasks at which they are expert. Thus, boredom is typical, almost inevitable. This means it’s up to you to find challenges, to be that type of employee who is experimenting with new methods. With the right employer, this can turn what seemed to be a shortcoming – your short attention span – into a natural curiosity, driving creativity and achievement.

Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at [email protected] or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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J.T. & Dale “JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country. J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are both professional development experts.