Almost 30 & Still No Passionate Career Path

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‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.

Dear J.T. & Dale: What do you advise for someone who doesn’t like working? I’ve never liked any of the jobs I’ve ever had. I have a good history of longevity with jobs, but I’m always unhappy. I’m almost 30, and I still don’t know “what I want to be when I grow up.” — Mary

J.T.: I can relate — I didn’t find my career path till I was 33! It took me that long to stop worrying about what others thought and start caring about what impressed me. You can do likewise by taking some time to consider your hobbies and interests. The things you like to do, play, watch and read offer excellent insight into your motivators. Working from that list, you can figure out how you could create a career path that would let you spend time doing what you find energizing.

Dale: Let me add another source of insight: people whose work you admire. For instance, you may envy the career of an architect you know, or that of a college professor. Even though you aren’t qualified for either job, you can add the jobs to your list, and then search for common themes. These will help turn your hobbies-and-interests list into work-related goals.

J.T.: An example might help: Last year, I worked with a college senior to help him determine what to do after graduation. Like you, he honestly couldn’t think of a single job. Nothing excited him. However, when I got him talking about what he did in his free time, he lit up as he shared his passion for fitness. He’d been a sickly child who grew up with an appreciation of the power of good health. So I suggested that he investigate becoming a personal trainer. He immediately quashed the idea, saying his parents wouldn’t approve and that he needed something to make use of his business degree. Well, graduation came and went, and he was still a server in the same restaurant where he’d worked while in school. Recently, however, he decided to enter a certification program to become a physical trainer. The change in his thinking came when I got him to understand that it would be the first step in a career path — he is using his business degree to put together a plan to develop his business and eventually open his own club. He’s completely energized about his future because he was able to connect the dots from what he loved and what he was good at to a career. We hope you’ll do likewise, Mary, and let us know what you discover.

jt-dale-logoJeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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.

9 comments

  1. we have the same thinking obama will destroy this nation by not doing the right thing for the people. we need less government, less taxes, more personal freedoms, and gold back in our money system.

  2. I'm 29 and have yet to come close to figuring it all out. The only difference is, I really ENJOY working. It gives me such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. So you can imagine how hard it was for me when I lost my job last summer. I'm still struggling to not only find THE job, just just A job. Unemployment is such a bummer, but I'm trying to turn it into a *fab* experience. I'm writing the next chapter of my life as we speak!

    http://www.firednfabulous.blogspot.com/

  3. I'm 29 and have yet to come close to figuring it all out. The only difference is, I really ENJOY working. It gives me such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. So you can imagine how hard it was for me when I lost my job last summer. I'm still struggling to not only find THE job, just just A job. Unemployment is such a bummer, but I'm trying to turn it into a *fab* experience. I'm writing the next chapter of my life as we speak!

    http://www.firednfabulous.blogspot.com/

  4. Add some research to determine what strengths you have. I recently used StrengthsFinder 2.0. I've seen this book in Borders and Barnes and Noble, and you can order it on-line for any other bookstore. It talks you through the research, why this was written, then directs you to a website to take an on-line quiz. There are a lot of questions, and I think it took 15 minutes.

    What you come away with is a list of 5 strengths that you can leverage in any job, to help you be happier in wherever you're at. The book describes those strengths, plus suggests working with people of certain other strengths that you don't possess to help you in certain situations.

    For example, I:
    - have empathy in the context of wanting to provide solutions to relieve people's pain in work.
    - do better in a harmonious environment.
    - do better when there is a sense of consistency at work.
    - develop growth in others.
    - include as many people as needed so everyone can have their say, and have a vested interest in the solution.

    Knowing this allows me to recognize that if I'm in an environment that has the opposite traits of my top 5 strengths, I'll most likely stop wanting to work there, become ineffective, and be miserable.

    I took a similar test in a way when I was in college, but it was too generic, and I had no job experience to validate it. After losing my job recently, it became very clear that the environment I was in was direct opposite in 2 of my 5 strengths, and my position did not allow me to use 2 other strengths. It was just a matter of time, and had I known this 3 or 4 years ago, I would have started seeking for a job much earlier.

    Hope this helps!
    –Dave Homrighouse

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