5 Steps To Finding Lasting Career Happiness

Once you have the 6 enduring principles to career happiness down, you need to make progress toward finding the work that matches what you want in life and ultimately gives you that purposeful paycheck.

Heretics of the purposeful paycheck use a blueprint or roadmap to continually find and maintain career happiness through our lives.

Here are the 5 practical steps heretics use that you can employ for yourself:

1. Discover what you truly want out of life.

The first step to lasting career happiness is to identify what you want your life to look like.

You must know and establish your goals and dreams in life then define objectives for obtaining them.

This is a foundational step, an investigation into your heart and soul, but often too many people go blindly into careers without deeply considering what they want out of life.

By the way — if you have a significant other in your life, it’s extremely important to do all this with that person. He or she is your partner in life and as such will make a significant impact on your career.

Think about different stages in your life and what you see accomplishing or having or being at those times. Like your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, retirement and beyond.

What does your family makeup look like? What are you financial goals? Lifestyle and living goals?

At this point, you are defining what success and happiness are to you.

But beyond these bigger life goals and dreams, you also want to learn about your likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses and unique personality. For this I suggest the StrengthsFinder discovery tool and the Kiersey Temperament Sorter (based on the Myers-Briggs Personality Test indicator).

2. Search for potential career matches.

With your life goals and dreams established, now you want to look for a career (or business) that gives you the best possible chance to achieve them, while doing work you really enjoy.

This is sort of like dating and finding your mate in life. You want a job that ultimately you’ll enjoy, potentially for years down the line.

If you are in a career that ultimately doesn’t suit you, or has some traits that cause your happiness in other areas to deteriorate, you are going to end up unhappy at some point (yes, no matter how good the money or benefits are!).

Do an exhaustive search and list all the careers you find interesting and can see yourself doing, along with how they fit your natural strengths and passions. The key is to find maximum alignment between your career and your life goals and dreams.

Once you get your career list (not just 0ne but many solid career options), now start researching what you need to get those careers. The best way to do start this is to look through the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Then Google for people and companies in that career field. See if you can find job descriptions for the careers on your list. And then, if you find people doing this career who seem open (or have a blog on the subject) try reaching out to see what advice they would give you.

3. Master the experience and expertise required.

Once you find the job descriptions and experiences and expertise you need in order to be marketable and land one of these jobs, see how your current education, skill set, experiences AND personality type match up with what prospective employers want.

This is where you’ll likely find gaps. But identifying those skill or experience gaps are key to knowing what you need to start working on.

You may realize you need to learn a new software program, or be fluent in another language. Once you’ve identified those gaps, now you need to see how much time and money it will cost you to acquire those skills. This is vital though.

For most employers, master equals money. Skills pay the bills.

Then as you narrow down your list, you may also seek out experiences where you can “test” out the job in the form of an apprenticeship, internship … or even, yes, an entry-level assistant or receptionist position to see what it’s really like in that career field. As you narrow down on a career or job to focus on, you’ll want to start mapping out your path to education and experience to close the gaps to get where you want to be.

4. Hunt relentlessly for the right fit. 

Now that you’ve begun to close the experience and expertise gaps, you need to start looking for the right fit — whether that be in a business working for someone else, or starting your own business.

I want to emphasize finding the “right fit.” Not every opportunity will be that. So it is truly a hunt. A relentless one you should not give up on easily or jump too fast into something.

You can save yourself a lot of misery by making sure you are a good match for any potential job opportunity. But you should be looking for leads to jobs, making contacts with potential employers and getting interviews with them as soon as you feel confident in obtaining a job in your career field of choice.

Unfortunately, this all takes time and patience.

If you’re not landing the jobs you’re really wanting, ask what you can improve or fill in on your resume. See if they have suggestions for what a person might do to land this type of job and be most marketable in that career field.

5. Evaluate and refine as you go.

At some point, you will land that job and find that work-life alignment. But the process doesn’t stop here. Just because this is the fifth step doesn’t mean it’s the final one.

These steps are a repeating cycle, not a finish line.

Life will invariably happen (you’ll have kids, you could get sick, etc). Things can and will change (you may experience job loss, or bosses and workplaces that change and you find your work-life getting mis-aligned).

You must always be seeking work-life alignment. And that starts back at Step 1. Sometimes it means starting all over again. It could mean creating your own job – by starting your own business and being your own boss. It may mean you have to make adjustments.

Your best-laid plans will change.

Career fields transition and morph to meet innovative changes in the market. Businesses fail. New ones sprout up and start fresh. Or you just get bored and want a new challenge in life.

And it’s a fact now … you will most likely not have the same job, working for the same company, for your entire life.

Rinse and repeat these steps often. Do it annually (or more frequently). Learn and grow. Iterate and refine your career plan. You’ll need to make course corrections along the way. The worse thing is neglecting this process and finding yourself WAY off course and perhaps lost.

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