VCU Center for Corporate Education

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A young woman hikes through the desert with the words "Think of your career as an adventure" overlaid on top of the image.

You’re embarking on a journey! Try to teach yourself to think of your career as an adventure. Like all adventures, parts of your quest to find your sweet spot in career and vocation will prove tedious. It may even be a bit boring, at times even painful, and sometime experiences simply to be endured as you look forward to better days ahead. Not every position you hold will be fun. And from time to time, even when you’re in a job that uses your skills and strengths, while a good fit for your interests and passions, the position will not always be pleasurable.



It’s important for you to realize your job isn’t who you are. Many people try to create a direct connection between their job and their self-esteem. This is a serious mistake. Even if you are in a job that is right on your sweet spot, you will grow to the point of maturity where you realize that you are more than your successful job or career. Many of us will experience numerous positions where the primary thing we learn is another kind of work or work setting we don’t really enjoy. There’s often a lot of trial and error, and learning before we find that 1% to 2% we can do better than anyone in the world.

It’s important to acknowledge at this point, there are jobs and careers which are a better fit for you. Still there are others that will fit your friend well, but ultimately, no job is perfect. Just as there is no perfect spouse, do not expect to find a job that will be everything you ever could hope it would be. Knowing this, you need to think about what trade-offs you are willing to make to get as close as you can to that ‘impeccably tailored suit of clothes.’ Let me present you with several models to help you digest this.



When students are graduating from college, they are frequently asked, “What are you going to do when you graduate?” Isn’t it interesting that people focus on the what, but rarely do people ask “Where are you going to settle” or “Who do you want to be around?” If you are poised to make a transition, chances are that you are actually weighing each of these factors. If you really want to go into publishing, you probably know most of the best publishing houses are in New York. The what determines the where which leaves the who in last place. This may mean you will not have many friends in New York City in the beginning, and will have to work hard to develop relationships.

Consider another example: you are recently engaged. Your fiancée is in another city. By deciding to relocate for this relationship, you are prioritizing the who which determines the where leaving the what in last place. This may mean you choose to take a job that may not be your ideal what, but it allows you to invest in your future marriage. The whowhat, and where cannot all be your first priority. Weigh your values and situation in life to determine what works best for you at this point in time.

Excerpt from Sweet Spot: Finding Your Career at Any Age, Pages 38-39

Co-authored by Bruce Dreisbach and Katybeth Lee. (Buy the book)

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