Be honest now — do you ever feel that you are trapped in the wrong body, in the wrong job, at the wrong desk, receiving the wrong paycheck, and wearing the wrong shoes?
(Hush Puppies? Really? They didn’t have your size in a nice pair of Stride Rite Light-Up Unicorn Slippers?)
If this is your situation, this is your salvation — an article on the job site, Monster, with the intriguing title, “Discover the Work You Were Born to Do.”
As the author, career counselor James Gonyea, so wisely intuits, “You’ve been hearing that voice again, the one that says you’re not doing what you were born to do. Chances are that the nagging voice means your current career is not satisfying your core features. If this is the case, then it’s time to find a better fit.”
As you and I know, the voices in your head are not usually so helpful, and, for the most part, you shouldn’t listen to their usual cacophony: “You’re a loser.” “Everyone here is out to get you.” “Need pizza now.”
According to the career counselor, you can also hear voices will help you “figure out what you should be doing.”
Unfortunately, you don’t make enough money in your career to afford a career counselor. Visiting a therapist could make a difference, but you’d have to find a very brilliant Jungian psychoanalyst to solve all your career problems in the annual five minutes of therapy that your health insurance will cover.
This leaves you with the technique described in the article — playing 20 questions with yourself to determine “whether your current career path matches your core interests, beliefs, values, needs and skills.”
Or, may I add, the lack thereof.
Some questions are subjective: “What subjects do you enjoy reading about?” and “What are your favorite types of movies?” And the results can be ambiguous. The fact that you enjoy reading books that reveal the harsh treatment of innocent victims by sadistic prison guards, or seeing movies in which Nick Cage is an innocent victim subjected to the harsh treatment of sadistic prison guards, suggests that you were born for a career in penal reform, when, in fact, you only like these books and movies because they make you feel better about the harsh treatment of innocent you by sadistic managers at work.
The question, “What volunteer activities do you prefer?” may throw you, since the only volunteer activity in which you participate is helping your co-workers with their weight-control problems by stealing their snacks from the fridge. This suggests the career of bank robber, or bank president. Frankly, there isn’t much difference.
Answering the question, “What are your pet peeves?” is problematic since your biggest pet peeve is people who insist on asking you what are your pet peeves. From this we learn that you are well-suited for a career that utilizes your core interest of being a wise guy who never takes anything seriously, even yourself. This suggests the career choice of standup comedian. Makes sense, really. You co-workers have been laughing at you for years.
“If you doodle, what do you often draw?” is a very revealing question. If your typical doodle in staff meetings is a gallows, a guillotine or a gravestone with your name on it, this suggests you were born to be an embalmer. Creepy, yes, but, at least, the people you work with won’t talk about you behind your back.
Coming up with an answer to “Who are your favorite kinds of people?” is easy-peezy, since the only kinds of people you like are the kinds of people who are just like you, or, just you. Obviously, you were born to be a hairstylist, since you can spend all day starring at yourself in the mirror. Horrible job, cutting hair, but how wonderful to spend the entire work day with a good-looking, super-intelligent, perfect person like yourself.
Once you answer the 20 questions, you’ll want to check your answers for “information you see repeated that seems to reveal a behavior pattern.” From these patterns you ask yourself five more questions until you can “paint a self-portrait,” which will allow you to determine whether your current job fits your real self.
Frankly, if you can spend all this time answering all these questions, you’ve already found the career you were born for. If you’ve found a job that allows you to spend this much time on this much navel-gazing, I wouldn’t question it.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.