To help job seekers focus their career interests, experts often recommend looking at peak moments and accomplishments from one’s life.
Analyzing these key moments is thought to unlock the door to a successful working life.
After all, as the saying goes, “Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”
Studying those times when you felt great and successful will help you determine the activities, work environments and goals which inspire and energize you, and this should point you towards jobs that make you say, “Thank god it’s Monday.”
Once when I tried to do this I was very much the Problem Child. I kept thinking of incidents I really hated. Like the time I was selling raffle tickets at a very crowded outdoor event. Or when I had an early morning job interview and realized that if I got the job they’d probably want me there at that time every day and I’d have to stay in that building all day long. Or the time when I was a reporter covering the funeral of a murdered motorcycle gang leader and saw photographers literally elbowing each other out of the way to capture the picture of a little boy holding his father’s coffin.
But then I thought, “Is bringing to mind all these horrible work situations really so wrong?”
After all, you’re not likely to be successful at things you hate, and knowing the kinds of work environments you can’t stand won’t only keep you from taking the wrong job – it will help you figure out which jobs would be right for you.
Analyzing these unfavorite moments teaches me that I don’t like crowds or direct selling, and that although I don’t like traditional office routines, I’m also not put off by rough and tumble journalism.
Dealing with difficult co-workers aside, analyzing a job you haven’t liked can almost always tell you something about your preferred way of working. Understanding why a work environment rubbed you the wrong way can help you find positive experiences in the future.
Did you feel stalled in your previous position because there was no shared vision and excitement in the organization? Look for an organization clearly chasing its vision. If the problem with that last job was the strict, by-the-book approach, you’ll know what to look for in your next position.
Educational experiences will also clue you in to your career impulses. Did you like group projects in school or prefer working independently? Did you find finals week exciting in a sort of perverse way, or did the diversion from routine completely throw you off?
What about you? Can you think of any unfortunate experiences you’ve had that have taught you what to avoid?
by Danielle Dresden