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Five Steps to Being in Your Best Career Yet
By Jo Miller
Copyright CareerBuilder, LLC -- reprinted with permission
You know you're ready for a career change, but don't know where to begin. Here are five steps to get you thinking creatively and laterally about your new direction.

1. When are you at your best?
Although Jill enjoys working in retail sales, she wants a career with a more stable income. Jillís boss constantly praises her time management skills and says she sets a great example for the team. Jill was asked to teach what she knew to the group. Jill consistently receives praise for mentoring new employees. Other sales people often come to her for advice, and ask to work with Jill to learn more from her. When someone pointed out her natural flair for teaching and leading by example, Jill became interested in a new career in training.

To discover when you are at your best, brainstorm a list of activities that bring out the best in you. Questions to ask yourself are:

  • What am I doing when I lose track of time?
  • What would I do with my time if I won the lottery?
  • What efforts bring me the most praise and encouragement from others?
  • When have I accomplished a challenging task without it feeling like hard work?
  • What activities can I get so immersed in that I stop worrying about problems?

Write your ideas down, and make it a long list! Notice whether there are any repeated themes or categories that can be grouped together.

2. What opportunities fascinate you?
While we all want to do what we love, the money doesnít necessarily follow. In this next list, you will brainstorm emerging trends, industry changes and opportunities that may open the way to a lucrative career. Whether itís global warming, the growing need for health care workers, reality television, or rebuilding Iraq, there is potential for opportunity in every trend. Ask yourself:

  • Which future trends am I most curious about?
  • What types of news stories grab my attention?
  • What current events keep me glued to the radio or television?
  • What newspapers, web sites or sources of information do I go back to most often?
  • Of my role models, who are the ones making news right now, and why?

Keep listing until you have dozens of ideas, and donít judge any of them yet. Any trend could potentially lead to a career opportunity. In the San Francisco Bay Area following the dot com crash, auction sales of used office furniture increased dramatically, along with mortgage refinancing, and demand for moving vans. Donít just look for booming industries, as there are opportunities when growth slows and industries decline.

Jill noticed she was fascinated by news stories and articles about psychology, motivation and leadership, and added them to her opportunities list.

3. Combine
Combine your two lists onto one piece of paper in two separate columns. Look over the lists and take note of any interesting synergies between them. Notice any new ideas that pop.

For example when Todd, a Building Inspector, compared his two lists, he noticed he was at his best doing detailed analytical work, and his greatest fascination lay with all things aquatic. He was reminded of a trip to an aquarium where he was drawn into a long conversation with a biologist who was collecting and analyzing water samples.

4. Compare and Contrast
Add a third column. Brainstorm possible careers where your talents intersect with your interests, and write them in this column.

In his third column Todd wrote:

Marine biologist, researcher for whale-watch tours, weather reporting for mariners and divers, admin for a boat club, managing a library database in a seaside town.

5. Choose
The final step is to narrow down the list and make a choice. Look for those ideas that are both achievable, and will provide you with a satisfying, fulfilling new career. What steps would you need to take to get there?

Todd decided to take a part time job managing the membership database at a yacht club while he returned to school to study marine biology.

Jill decided she would like to become a Leadership Trainer. She offered to design and teach a new curriculum for new sales associates, and joined a professional organization to network with other trainers.

Are you reaching your full potential?

Jo Miller is a business, personal and executive coach with five years of global coaching experience. Jo can help you turn your biggest dreams or challenges into realistic goals, then help you get from where you are now to where you want to be.

For more information about Jo or to try a complimentary coaching session, visit

This article has be reprinted with permission from