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The Career Coach

Discovering the Joy in Your Career

Finding joy in the job search
Jumping for Joy
Published on April 12, 2010 : 3 comments

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There’s a prevalent saying with the majority of my clients looking for jobs in Omaha: I need to discover who I want to be when I grow up!

My first thought is, “why does it have to be either/or?” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a job that allows us to experience joy, creativity, and enthusiasm? It is almost as if when we find a “job” all of those thoughts and feelings go out the door. Actually, knowing what gives us joy is the first clue in determining what kind of job or career we should be doing, and how we should job search.

Have you ever had moments where time seemed to fly by and you felt absolutely lost in the moment, engaged, or even engulfed in what you were doing? Athletes refer to this when they talk about being in the zone. Everything outside of what you are focused on disappears except for what is right in front of you.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chik-SENT-me-high) talks about this in his book, Finding Flow. His theory is that all of our activities are made up of challenges and skills, and they relate to one another on a continuum:

  1. When our skills and challenges are low, we experience apathy.
  2. When challenges are low, and the skills needed for the task are high, we are relaxed.
  3. However, when our skills are low, but the challenge is high we experience anxiety.

For example, think of a job where your challenges were very high, yet you didn’t have the skills, resources, or tools you needed to get the job done. I would bet that you experienced HIGH ANXIETY.  Whereas, if you have a favorite activity that requires skill, but it’s not challenging to you (such as singing, playing cards, or reading), that is when we feel a sense of relaxation.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi has found that in moments when your challenges and skills are both high, you will feel completely engaged. It occurs when you are fully involved in overcoming the challenge in front of you and you have the skills to be successful! It will probably be difficult to have a job where you will experience this feeling the majority of the time; however, knowing what those activities are will allow you to begin looking at various career positions and paths that would allow you the opportunity to experience those moments.

One of my mottos is, knowledge is power, and in identifying those times when you have full engagement, you can then begin to research where in your career can you implement “flow” type activities.  Listed below are a few questions and activities you can do that will help you in beginning your path of finding joy.

  1. Make a list of all the things you love to do. Then put a date of the last time you did any of those things.
  2. Make a list of all the things you loved to do as a child.
  3. If you won $3 million dollars, what would you do for fun?
  4. If you could choose anything you wanted to do for a living, what would that be?
  5. Are you known as an expert in something?
  6. What do you do that you count as being “only” a hobby and have dismissed being paid for it?
  7. What are people always coming to you about?

Take some time to write out your insights and thoughts. Be sure to stay open to any new ideas and, for now, don’t even think about reality or any obstacles that may block your way. This is the moment to dream and discover.

Please share your results below! Remember, there are jobs in Omaha that will match your dreams, as long as you remember to allow yourself some joy in your job search.

And stay tuned for next month’s article when I talk about designing your career!

VickieVickie Seitner, Career Edge One, 402-660-6053


Finch93 says:

April 13, 2010 : 14 years 14 weeks ago

Finch93's picture

Great advice! :)

VickyD says:

April 13, 2010 : 14 years 14 weeks ago

VickyD's picture

Great article Vickie and wonderful advice for anyone whether they are considering a career change or not - it’s always good to reevaluate!

Debb (not verified) says:

April 14, 2010 : 14 years 14 weeks ago

Debb's picture

Great article! Both inspiring and timely! I’m in the job market now and your article made me do a “double take”. Thanks!

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