How To Transform Your Life Challenges Into A Perfect Career

Most of us perceive the challenges we’ve experienced in our life to be barriers or limitations on our choice of career. For example, if you have a learning disability you may believe you’re not cut out for a career requiring a lot of writing and researching. You may feel your lack of detailed understanding of business financials means you can’t be a corporate executive; or, conversely, your love of numbers and spreadsheets prevents you from being an effective people manager.

But when you dig down into the core of the challenges you’ve experienced, you mine the gold nuggets of your strengths, interests, and talents forged as you went through your struggles.

Be Proud Of The Challenges You’ve Faced

While there are many people who go through similar challenges, your history and personality uniquely shape your responses to and outcomes of your struggles. Sometimes without even realizing it, you hone keen self-awareness you never would have without the circumstances you encountered.

Be proud of your challenges; they’re the source of so much of your resiliency and wisdom.

Your Challenges Become A Treasure Map

Here are 5 steps to draw on your wisdom and map a route to guide you to the perfect career for you. Gather up a timer, a pen or pencil, and a notebook. Choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. Sit in a quiet place and set the timer for 30 minutes. Then:

  1. Spend the first few minutes sitting quietly with your eyes closed.
  2. In your notebook, quickly jot down the challenges you’ve faced. The more honest you are with yourself, the more value you’ll get from this exercise. There’s nothing to be hesitant about or ashamed of – simply note what happened.
  3. See if you can find any patterns in your past situations: how they came to be, how you reacted, how you solved them, how you felt. Be curious, like a scientist collecting data.
  4. Write down any interests, talents, or strengths you believe came about from your challenges.
  5. When the timer goes off, stop writing, sit back, and relax for a few more minutes. Reflect on the experience

A neutral third party such as a coach is incredibly valuable to help you unearth the most compelling details and revelations; to keep you honest with yourself; and to point out strengths or talents you may not even be aware you’ve developed.

Let’s Follow The Map To The Treasure: Your Ideal Career

Once you’ve finished the mapping exercise above, you can follow the map to discover your ideal career. Here’s how:

  • Choose a tool that will help you refine the information you’ve developed about yourself. I recommend Holland’s Codes and Gallup’s Strengths Finder to start. And I’ve developed a number of exercises for you in my book Happiness, Passion and Purpose, which will be published in early 2019.
  • With your coach’s support, brainstorm even more career choices. You want to be thorough and not rush through this stage.
  • Set aside quiet time to reflect on and rank the possibilities.
  • Allow yourself to envision and play with different scenarios. Sketching or writing out the possibilities will unleash your creativity; as you play, you’ll hone in on your top one or two choices.
  • Draft a plan to explore the practicalities: for example, any training or education you may need; the typical work schedule of your chosen career; and the salary range.

If you get bogged down, don’t be discouraged! Simply pause and come back to this process when you feel refreshed. You may need to complete it in stages over a period of days or weeks, and that’s fine.

What Riches Will You Discover?

Rather than perceiving your struggles as barriers to a fulfilling career, I’ve shown you how you can deliberately mine your challenges to discover a wealth of insight, wisdom, and clarity that will guide you to a career you’ll love.

The reason most people drift to and through lackluster careers isn’t a lack of awareness, or smarts, or information. Rather, they don’t believe they can transform their challenges into careers where they can soar

But you’re going to be different, right?

You’re going to set out on a voyage of self-discovery and reap the reward of a fulfilling career crafted on your passion, purpose, and strengths. And when you do, you’ll discover how valuable your struggles truly have been.

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