The Career Changer Who Loved Too Many

    June 13, 2003

Dear Cathy: I want to find a career that will use my many talents and enthusiasms. I’ve taught in adult education programs, directed fund-raising for a nonprofit group, served as a radio talk show host, supervised health care aides, trained as a social worker and directed a children’s summer camp. I love to motivate people who want to learn but I get frustrated by structure and the need to give grades. I am both organized and creative.

And I have no idea what to do next!

Signed: Wanda of the Winding Road

Dear Wanda:

Your story is not unusual. As a career coach, I often get calls from people who have what I call a “winding road” career path. They want a way to put the pieces together in a meaningful pattern. See .

In real life, people rarely find careers by following a step-by-step program. Recent research has turned career counseling upside down, realizing that most people actually find their careers by serendipity. They zigzag, trying one idea, then trying another. This process can take two or three years — or longer.

Second, what drives most people away from careers are the hidden components of a job. And what motivates people to move to a new city are the little things, like being able to shop in Neiman-Marcus or buy your favorite bread and deli products. Discover your own hidden motivators.

Third, few people make the transition alone. Remember that song about walking the “lonesome valley?” The song says nobody can walk for you, which is true. Only you can do the work, even if you hire a coach or counselor.

However, the song goes on to say that you have to make your way “by yourself.” Not true! You may have to put your own feet on the ground (metaphorically, at least) but you can ask someone to come along for company. You can call around until you find someone who’s walked the valley last week, who can warn you of pitfalls and give you some tips to make your own walk easier.

And if you expect the road to be treacherous, bring a guide.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant. Your Next Move Ezine: Read one each week and watch your choices grow!