How to Escape Your Career Coal Mine

Posted by in Career Success | 1 comment

In southern West Virginia during the late 19th and early 20th century there was really only one good option for work. The coal mine.  

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

The coal mine meant hard work, black lung, and a steady pay check.  If your granddad worked there, your dad worked there, and guess what? You were going to work there too.  Seemingly there weren’t a lot of choices.

In times past children were expected to follow in the paths of their parents.  The son of an engineer was expected to be an engineer, the daughter of a nurse was sent to nursing school, and the children of a farmer were going to work the land. Today that is not the case at all. There are so many options and opportunities available for interesting, enjoyable, and profitable work.  Yet we often spend more time planning a vacation than we do outlining the career we want for ourselves.

How many people do you know who are in their current careers and are miserable because they chose a career they were not interested in but their parents encouraged them to go into it. Or they graduated from college, applied for a couple of jobs, and the first employer to make them an offer sent them on a career trajectory they never wanted.  Today, we still have the equivalent of the coal mine when we choose particular careers because we believe our options are limited.  So how do you begin to escape your version of the coal mine?

The first step is to start asking yourself the right questions.

Stop asking yourself these questions:

1. What careers will be most in demand in the next five years?
2. What job pays the most with the least amount of education or training?
3. Which jobs are easy to get?

Start asking yourself these questions:

1. When I daydream about a career, what do I dream about?
2. How can I add the most value to others?
3. What types of things do I tend to do in my free time away from my job?
4.  What recurring themes have I noticed in my life about things I enjoy doing?

When you start asking yourself these questions you will begin to move toward the type of work that is most fitting for you and is truly work you enjoy.

I would love to know your answers to the four questions.  What did you come up with?