A Career Changer's Checklist - 12 Common Sense Questions to Find Your Career: What Is Your Chance of Fulfillment? (Not Success, but Fulfillment!)
Here we are at question 11 in this series of career-oriented diagnostic questions titled the Career Changer's Checklist.
We are in the final stretch of this series. Only two more articles to go after this one! We have covered a lot of questions and a lot of territory. Some of you are still with me; some have given up. All of us need to stop for a moment and simply breathe! You have learned a lot.
Now you know:
- what you want to do
- what you like to do
- what you can do
- what you can afford to do
- what you know how to do
- where you want to do it
- who you want to do it with
- when you should do it
- what you need to get started.
- how flexible you are
You are well on your way to the perfect job or career. You have answered all the supposedly tough questions. But in this article I am going to pose the second toughest question of the series. (the absolute toughest question will come in the last article):
What is your chance of fulfillment?
I am not speaking about success here. If you have done your homework and written down your responses to all the questions I posed in the previous 10 questions, you will succeed. I have no doubts about that.
If you were honest, and I assume you were, you have to succeed. You have nothing to win by being less than honest.
Will you be fulfilled? That is the question. To explore that, you have to know what fulfillment is and then again what success is. Let's look at these before we go any further.
What is success? There are a variety of definitions from a host of references, both online and in print. For me, success is when you have accomplished your intended purpose and realized a favored desire or outcome. You have reached your goal. You have reached the finish line.
In this series, success is when you have identified and landed your ideal job or career.
What is fulfillment? Depending on the definition you adopt, fulfillment provides a sense of satisfaction, contentment, and accomplishment. It is more a feeling than anything else.
Contentment is when you feel that you have fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation. You are satisfied. You have arrived and accomplished what you most wanted.
Have you ever succeeded and not been fulfilled? Not been content? Not been satisfied? I have. Sometimes you want something and you succeed and reach your goal but you're still not content. Something is missing.
Fulfillment is when nothing is missing. Everything is right with your world. There is a sense of peace and peace of mind. It is a wonderful state of being.
Fulfillment produces peace of mind, contentment, and no regrets. No doubts.
There are many stories of people who want to get married and feel that they have to get married. And many do. When they do, they have succeeded. They have accomplished what they set out to do. But how many are content, satisfied, at peace? Many, in just a little while, are discontented. Success came, but contentment (fulfillment) did not come.
The ideal is to succeed and to be fulfilled, to be content. Sometimes it just takes time and patience. And when fulfillment comes, so does success in the majority of cases.
Contemporary-minded people believe that if you succeed, fulfillment comes. Pop culture says success is more important that fulfillment. Success first, then fulfillment.
I have a different perspective: If you strive for fulfillment, success has to come. And on top of this you will be content, at peace, and have no regrets or doubts while being successful. You will be able to look at yourself in the mirror and still have what others define as success.
When you are changing careers, searching for the ideal job or career, it is great to find a job of your choosing, but the question that has to be asked is this: Will you be fulfilled? If you are, you have hit the jackpot. If you have found the job but are not fulfilled, you will want to keep looking. You will not be content, satisfied, or have that deep seated feeling of accomplishment. The ideal is to be fulfilled and to succeed.
So the question in this article is based on all your research over the course of this series, what is your chance of being fulfilled if you find the job or career you have in mind? What is the chance that your ideal job/career will fulfill you and offer you a sense of contentment?
To explore this, I am going to ask you the top 10 questions that will indicate whether the job/career you have in mind will offer you a sense of fulfillment. Then I will share with you my top 5 strategies that lead you in your journey to professional fulfillment.
If you are confused, don't worry. I told you this was a tough question. Your confusion might come from the fact that you feel you have identified the ideal career/job but now I am throwing something else in. Why?
It is very simple and goes back to question 2. My philosophy and what I tell students is the following: You want to be happy and financially comfortable.
That is the goal. Stated another way: You want to be content or fulfilled and able to meet your obligations.
That's it folks. Sure, you have to pay your bills. You have to work. But don't you want to be happy, fulfilled, content, and enjoy your work, enjoy your job, enjoy your career? I know I do.
So let's take a look at the questions you have to explore to see whether this new career you have in mind will fulfill you.
Top 10 Questions
I am not going to do what I have done in the previous questions and beat you over the head with a lot of ancillary questions. I am simply going to ask you the questions and provide you with some brief clarifying thoughts.
You have to answer the question and write down what you are thinking, feeling, and considering in your Word doc. Remember these questions are for folks in every sector, not just IT folks.
The preface to each question is the following: Based on the career/job you have identified from the questions asked in the previous articles, ask yourself the following questions.
- Will you be fulfilled professionally?
In other words, will this job satisfy you professionally or will you be looking for something before the probation period is up?
Will you be able to leverage what you know, your skills, and your talents in a way that is satisfying while giving you a chance to grow in the profession?
Or will this be a dead-end job? Will you professionally wither or will you professionally grow in this new position?
If you are not fulfilled professionally you will be miserable and eventually hate what you are doing. That is a bad thing. You will not be productive and your feelings will spill over into every facet of your life.
Strive for professional fulfillment.
- Will you be fulfilled personally (developmentally)?
When you start a new career, a new job, or a new profession, you have to look in the mirror and see who you are when you start. Why? As you get engaged in the new employment culture, you will change personally. Some changes are good and some can be not so good.
Will those changes fulfill you as a person? Will you be content with who you think you will become?
With every job I have had to assess whether I was personally content. Without hesitation I can say most of the jobs have been fabulous. And I have been content and fulfilled. I have changed through all of cultures I have experienced, and that has added to my growth. I quickly quit those jobs in which I was not content. I did not like what I had to be or become as a person in order to thrive in the given culture.
So based on what you know about your ideal job/career, do you think you will be content? Will you be fulfilled as a person? Write down your thoughts and feelings in your Word doc.
- Will you be fulfilled interpersonally?
This question goes back to an earlier article, in which we discussed community, the people you will work with. Do you think, based on what you know about your new career, that you will be content and fulfilled working with this group of people and collaborators?
Remember that you are going to spend a lot of time with your fellow professionals and you want the atmosphere to be one that fits your temperament. Will this group welcome you and make you feel at home?
Will you feel like you want to go to work and contribute to the common good? Or will you just put in your time?
The people-to-people interaction that occurs on the job is so important. Many of us met our best friends on the job; others of us met our spouses.
How many times have you heard someone say that they hated to transfer to a new company because they loved working with the people they interacted with?
The converse is when you cannot stand the community that makes up the workplace—where there is cut-throat competition and ego and everyone is out for him/herself. There is no contentment, satisfaction, or fulfillment in the workplace.
So you have to ask yourself whether you will be fulfilled with the interaction you have with the people you come into contact with. Be honest and write down your response in your Word doc.
- Will you be fulfilled financially?
This is the key for a lot of people when they change jobs or change careers. Will you be content, satisfied, and fulfilled with the financial package you are offered?
Remember that you are the one changing. You might not be offered as much as you made on the last job, or you may be offered more. On day one, will you be looking for something more/better in the way of financial compensation?
If you will be dissatisfied, maybe the job is not right for you. Or maybe you have to lower the bar.
I know people (including me) who are having a tough time finding a compensation package that matches the one given to them by their former employer. They are a bit older now and being the new person on the block is tough to justify a big package when you have not proved yourself.
But the other philosophy is to get as much as you can within the first 6 months or you will not get it (I learned this 30 years ago from an ex-Federal employee). Some employers who are really interested in you will offer you what you want and more to get you on board. But after a while they will back off of some of the perks.
So will the new career offer you what you need financially? Write down your thoughts.
- Will you be fulfilled intellectually?
This is a question that is easy to overlook. Will you be intellectually stimulated by the new position? Or will you be doing the same thing day in and day out? Will it be drudgery, or can you grow?
Will you be able to use your wealth of knowledge to help the business or will what you know go to waste?
Will you be able to grow what you know and be able to acquire new skills? Or will the job be a dead end, one in which you put in your time and go home?
This is tough. Some folks want to grow intellectually; others are satisfied and content just doing a job. And there is nothing wrong with that. But if you grow intellectually and you are fulfilled, you will want to share what you know and to learn more.
So will you be fulfilled in this new venture? Write down your thoughts.
- Will you be fulfilled academically?
This is similar to the last question, but it has a different nuance. With some jobs/careers, you have to learn more, go back to school, take additional training, or be recertified, which is attractive to some and a turnoff to others.
Where do you fit in? Do you want to be retrained or are you satisfied with what you know? What do you need academically to be fulfilled? Training or no training? More school or no more school?
And if you want more training, will you be fulfilled if the employer does not offer you any? If you don't want to be retrained, will you be fulfilled if additional training and education are required in your new career? Or will you be dissatisfied and go looking for another job?
These are tough questions that every one of us has to tackle. What are your thoughts? Write them down.
- Will you be fulfilled geographically?
This is easy. Based on the job or career you want, will you be satisfied, content, and fulfilled by its location?
I will not beat this horse to death because we have discussed it in previous articles. But geography plays an important part in whether you are fulfilled in a career.
Write down your thoughts.
- Will you be fulfilled philosophically?
Do you know what your philosophy is? Does it keep with the philosophy of your new employer? Your new company philosophy?
This is important to many. It is tough when you go to work for an institution that believes something different than you do.
Here is an example. I am a firm advocate of excellence in education. I see no reason for condoning mediocrity—mediocrity is an easy way out. Excellence demands that teachers, parents, and students want children to do the best that they can.
I have a very difficult time working for a school district whose demonstrated philosophy is counter to mine. That is one of the reasons why I am not looking to work in public education now.
What about you? Does the sector and employer that you are interested in have a philosophy that you are content with? Or will you be philosophically uncomfortable? Can you live and work with an employer with whom you do not agree?
Write down your thoughts in your Word doc.
- Will you be fulfilled emotionally?
This question deals 100 percent with feeling. Will you be happy with your new career, with your new employer? Will you be euphoric when you are given an offer, or will your stomach tighten up every Monday morning when you have to go work?
This is subjective and no one, absolutely no one, can tell you how you feel.
Based on what you know, will you be fulfilled? Will you be content? Will you be at peace in your new job?
- Will you be fulfilled totally (what will be missing)?
I have given you a lot of things to think about. But some are left out. I don't know each and every one of you. There are needs you have in order for you to be fulfilled. Will this new ideal career fulfill all of your needs?
If not, what needs will be lacking? What will be missing? Only you can identify these points.
Think about it and write them down. Come face to face with what you need to be fulfilled and ask whether this new career will meet those needs or will conflict with those needs.
Remember the goal is to be content or fulfilled and able to meet your obligations.
What else do you need for this goal to be met? Write down your thoughts.