Read an Excerpt
Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.
-- James Bryant Conant
The greatest adventure is living life fully. What makes it such an extraordinary adventure is that it continues all through life, turning you into the main character in your own long and interesting novel. If you live your life fully day after day, you will never run out of enjoyable things to do. Since you will spend more of your life working than doing anything else, why not make your career part of your lifelong adventure? For most people, working is anything but interesting, enjoyable, rewarding, and fulfilling.
"We know that 55 percent of all U.S. employees are not engaged at work. They are basically in a holding pattern. They feel their capabilities aren't being tapped into and utilized, and therefore they really don't have a psychological connection to the organization," says the Gallup Organization, the experts in large-scale surveys. I know, just another statistic, but what if you turn out to be part of that 55 percent? Here's another statistic: only something like 30 percent of college-educated professionals say they like or love their work. The rest range from neutral to the deepest depths of career hell.
In the face of overwhelming (70 percent) odds that you will not land in the perfect career for you, you need expert coaching. This book will show you how to choose a career direction that fits you perfectly, a career that is not a compromise. I will supply the powerful and effective methods. You bring the commitment not to settle for anything less than spending your day in a career where you are successful, happy, and fulfilled -- doing work you are proud to do, that is rewarding and challenging, with a big dose of self-expression, passion, fun, and the joy of making your dreams come true.
You may be still in school or you may have already experienced that slide from new-career delight to "Uh-oh, I have a bad feeling about this." Wherever you are, this book will save you time, money (wasted in studying the wrong thing for you), and worry.
I have been coaching people for more than twenty-five years -- thousands of people who have been in the wrong career for only a few years or as long as thirty years. I've seen them "before" and "after." I know the advantages of choosing a career that fits you perfectly.
Success comes naturally when your career fits you well. Many people think they can guarantee their success by choosing a big-money career such as investment banking, medicine, or law. Money is definitely one way to measure success. Prestige is another.
Here's the dirty little secret no one mentions: if you are not happy to hop out of bed in the morning to go to work, the money or prestige will never be enough. I have clients who make six or seven figures. They will tell you it's not enough. It's never enough. My clients have included stockbrokers, doctors, lawyers, Hollywood movie producers, and CEOs of various kinds. Engrave this on your mind: no matter how much money or prestige you earn, you are not successful if you are miserable or not fully engaged in your work.
On the other hand, if making a lot of money is important to you, you are much more likely to reach that goal if you pick a career that both fits your talents and holds the potential for above-average earnings. Being good at what you do, you compete more effectively in the marketplace. Enjoying what you do, you bring an appetite and enthusiasm to your work that usually pays off.
Having a career that fits feels better. It's as simple as that. When you're young, however, several things can obscure how badly a career fits: new experiences and the fun of trying your wings provide excitement, helped by powerful hormones that lend a rock-and-roll edge to life. When the novelty and chemicals taper off, however, you're left to your own devices. Watch the over-thirty crowd on their way to work. See how many look resigned, bored, angry, stressed, or sad. Contrast that with people whose eyes sparkle with pleasure, satisfaction, and interest in their work.
Speaking of eyes sparkling, being satisfied and fulfilled makes you more attractive to others. People love to be around people who glow with life, joy, and self-expression, whether or not they were born beautiful.
Healthy people choose friends who make them feel good about themselves. They want friends who lift their spirits, who are fun to be around. Imagine, on the other hand, what it's like to live with someone who comes home exhausted and unhappy at the end of each workday. To enjoy great relationships, live a great life.
We all have innate abilities that want expression in the world. When we express them, we are most likely to make a contribution. If we do not express them, we sense that something is missing. All creatures except human beings express themselves naturally. We human beings are the only critters who are smart enough to talk ourselves into the wrong careers.
Self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself. Self-esteem never hovers. It is either rising or falling, based mostly on what is occurring in your life. It usually rises when you win, when you are satisfied with yourself and the progress you are making in your life. It falls when you lose regularly, when life is a constant struggle, when your confidence is eroded, when you feel no connection between you and the world around you. Your work profoundly influences your self-esteem. People who change paths in midcareer nearly always report that their ill-fitting careers had damaged their self-esteem. Create a future you will be proud of, and your self-esteem will take care of itself.
Health and Vitality
Many scientific studies show that the wrong career can actually make you seriously ill. People under significant stress at work have more than double the average number of colds. Their compromised immune systems cannot defend against illnesses, even life-threatening ones such as cancer. New research also shows that a lot of stress at work makes people age faster and die younger. People whose work uses their talents fully live longer and enjoy better health and, as a result, more vitality and well-being in all aspects of their lives.
You can write yourself into this book as the hero in your own life, on a quest, a high adventure to find a career you love. As with any great adventure, you don't know how it will turn out, but you know there will be exhilarating moments, scary moments, and times when you want to turn back. That's the nature of an adventure. You don't go into the woods alone, however. Heroes have mentors to encourage them over the rough spots and a sidekick or two to offer moral support along the way. Start looking around for people who have your best interests at heart.
As the author of this book, I offer myself to you as a mentor. For more than twenty-five years I have scouted the woods of career choice. I know them like the back of my hand. Most important, I know where the pitfalls are.
Let's say you and a group of friends gather in a clearing in the wilderness to play a game, the winners being the first people to find their way back to civilization. The game starts. Off you go. Now suppose that you are the only person playing who has a map. Everyone else just wanders around, trusting to luck, hoping for the best. Some of your fellow players are confident they will do well. Others have big doubts. None of that matters because they don't have a map. You do. You have a huge advantage over your fellows who are just blindly bashing around in the woods. That's half the battle. The other half is committed action. If you just stay in the clearing and study the map, you won't win, no matter how good the map is. With a good map and committed action, you will win the game, which in this case means having career success and a life you love.
You and the Map
You are holding the map in your hands. I designed it specifically for you. Almost all career books and counselors are well-meaning but not capable of actually guiding you through the process of choosing the perfect career. Several years ago, frustrated because there was no really excellent career guidebook I could use with my career change clients, I wrote that book: The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success. It has been used by hundreds of thousands of people to design their careers and their lives. People like it because it works. Many people say it was the only book that got them to their career choice goal. But I wrote it mostly for midcareer people who are ready for a change, people who made a mistake early on and then want to correct it years later. This one is for you.
I am passionately committed to making sure that doesn't happen to you. What I care about is your having a life you love. I'm not particularly interested in whether you like me or not, at least not enough to suck up to you. This is not a kids' book. I promise you I will not pull any punches with you. I am almost certainly older than you, but I will not insult you by talking down to you or trying to sound "cool."
This may not be the right book for you. This one was written for people who want to live an extraordinary life and are willing to kick their own butt in the direction of that goal until they get there. If that isn't you, if you just want to dream about the future or complain about the present, then this book will only upset you.
I will suggest some other resources, other books, some additional testing of your talents, and so forth. But for the most part, this book is a complete guide. It won't leave you stranded in the middle of the woods. It will guide you through to your goal, step by step.
This is not a book to just read. It is a guide to use, to keep nearby and refer to all the way through the process of choosing your direction. Don't try to read it all now. Read the first few chapters and then decide how best to use it as the guide to creating a truly exceptional future for yourself.
Inquiry 1-1 WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Inside the front cover I said this book is for people who want certain things in their work life. Let's take a look at which of those are important to you. Check all the statements that apply to what you want your life to be like. This inquiry is about what you really want, not about what you think you can achieve.
I enjoy going to work because what I do is interesting and challenging.
My work is a natural expression of my talents and personality.
Success comes easily to me because I am so good at what I do.
I am proud of what I do and enjoy telling other people about it.
Work is often so enjoyable it feels more like play.
I don't have to pretend to be someone else at work because my personality suits my work.
I'm paid to make use of my own best and most natural forms of creative expression.
My work environment brings out my best efforts.
My job fits my most important values and allows me to fulfill my goals in terms of personal growth and achievement goals, income, stability, and so on.
I'm personally interested in what I do.
The result of my efforts makes a contribution that personally matters to me.
My job allows plenty of time for friends, family, and fun outside of work.
I like the people I work with.
I am on a winning team that is having a great time getting the job done.
A day on the job leaves me feeling energized, not burned out.
This book asks a lot of you! It will teach you to climb a tall mountain, one that requires more skill, dedication, and energy than anything you have done in your life. But the view from the top is worth the climb.
Copyright © 2008 by Nicholas Ayars Lore