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by by Jane Allen | March 10, 2009


There are hundreds of books to assist you with a career change. What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles is one of the best sellers. And it is certainly one of the most comprehensive guides. It helps you decide what, where and how - what you have to offer (your skills and talents), where (in what setting) you want to do it and how to find what you want. It also includes many practical tips such as dealing with rejection, how to do informational interviewing and how to start your own business.

Whistle While You Work - Heeding Your Life's Calling, by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro, focuses on finding your "calling." The authors believe that we all have distinct gifts, and that we must connect those gifts to what we do in order to find a calling. Calling isn't a specific job; it is what you bring to your job - how you find meaning in what you do. The starting point for discovering your gifts is to ask: "What gift do I naturally give to others? What gift do I most enjoy giving to others? What gifts have I most often given to others?" Their research has identified six general groups of callings: Social, Enterprising, Artistic, Investigative, Realistic and Conventional. Your calling is probably a combination of at least two of these groups.

Leider and Shapiro believe that work becomes fulfilling when you find a way to express your calling, even in small ways. They provide a series of examples and questions to help you discover your preferences, to begin expressing them in your job right now or to find your ideal career based on your calling.

The preface to Zen and the Art of Making a Living, by Laurence G. Boldt (1999 ed.), says it all: "As you've probably guessed by now, this is not your usual career planning guide. ... This is a career guide for human beings. It's really a book about love in action, about joy, about beauty, about caring."

If the "Z" word makes your eyes glaze, don't despair! Boldt has included about 400 pages of practical advice, questions, resources and pep talks in addition to the how-to-do-your-thing help. It's kind of a "Zen Parachute," if you will. If your career change questions include "What's my purpose?" this may be the book for you.

Some people have told me, "I couldn't get through that parachute book." Finding a satisfying career isn't always easy. It's serious work requiring time, thought and preparation. When I ask career changers, "Why did you choose what youre doing now?" I often hear answers like:

  • It seemed like a cool career.
  • I wanted to make lots of money.
  • My (fill in the blank - parent, teacher, friend, school counselor) told me I'd be good at it.

Those kinds of reasons might have seemed valid at the time, but where's the purpose, the calling, the passion? Being happy with your job is very important. How important? For starters, just look at the numbers. If you sleep seven hours per night, that leaves 85 hours of awake time during Monday through Friday. If you're working 40 hours a week at a job you don't like, you are spending nearly 50 percent of your waking time doing something that doesn't make you happy.

If you're searching for a career that's a good fit, take the time (this time) to explore what's really right for you. Your happiness is worth the effort. In fact, your happiness depends on it.


Filed Under: Job Search