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The All-Time Best Career Exercise

by bevbarnes on October 2, 2009

I’ve been reading career books, specifically books that talk about how to find your perfect, loved, passionate, career, job, work, purpose or business for the last 15 years.  From time to time I’d like to share with you some of the books that I’ve read, used and loved.  You might find something that will help you.

One of my favourite books and probably the first that I read, is “The Lotus and the Pool:  How to Create your own Career” by Hilda Lee Dail.  Published in 1989, this book changed my life.   This book offers a holistic approach to career development, involving the wisdom of the unconscious.  I learned three timeless lessons that I want to share with you.

1. You can create your own career.  I had never considered that.  I thought that I had to find a career by looking through what was already there.  I likened it to going shopping at the career store and finding one that fit on the rack.  This book opened my eyes to the possibility that I could actually design something that fit me and that I would not have to continue to try to wear a career that was uncomfortable.  What a relief! 

2. Creativity is career development and the corollary, career development is an art, not a science.  I had never really believed that figuring out what you want to do for work involved a simple process of matching yourself to work that was needed.  If that was the case, why was it so angst invoking and all consuming?  And why did the figuring out process feel like an epic journey in which the process itself shifted your understanding of who you were?  It couldn’t just be a science.

Hilda Lee Dail describes career development as creativity.  Her work is based on the principles of psychosynthesis, a branch of spiritual psychology developed by Alberto Assagioli that has as its goal to facilitate personal and spiritual self development while incorporating the unconscious realms expressed in dreams and through art. 

 This book confirmed to me that finding your right career had more to do with discovering who you are in the world than trying to decide what you want to do.

3. Doing an analytical exercise can help you figure out what you want to do, and the corollary, career development is a science not an art.  The all-time best career exercise according to moi, is writing your success stories so that you can identify your personal criteria for success.  This is what you absolutely require to feel fulfilled at work. 

 Using this multi-stepped process helped me to identify that in order to feel happy and fulfilled at work, I absolutely needed to use my intuition with people.  Since I identified that as one of my success criteria, fifteen years ago, I have always made sure that it is a key part of my work.  When it is, I feel happy, happy, happy.

 Here is what you can do to get started on identifying your success criteria. 

 Step 1:

List 50 of your past successes-things you accomplished that you are proud of.  Pick things you did that you felt proud of whether anyone else noticed or not.  They don’t have to be things that other people recognized as significant.  You can include things from throughout your childhood and adult life. 

 Step 2:

Now pick your top 10 from this list.  Pick according you your pride in them; joy in doing them and level of energy in recalling them. 

 Step 3:

Write a story about each of your top 10 successes.  Write in detail, like you were reliving the experience or telling the story to a young child.

 Step 4:

Read the stories out loud and identify your key success factors, what talents, strengths and or skills you used to accomplish this success.  (This is where a coach, if you have one, can help.)

 Step 5:

List all your success factors and choose those 4 factors that you enjoy using the most and want to use in the future.  Voila!  These are your personal criteria for success.

Step 6: 

Celebrate.  You are one step closer to being happier at work!  (Okay, I added this step.)

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