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How to Redesign Your Career

What do you want to be when you grow up?

If you're like many people, that's a question you may struggle to answer, no matter what your age.

To help you follow your passion and find work you'll love, I spoke with Jane Herman, a business success coach and author of the book, "Take Control Of Your Life" (available at

"It's amazing how many people are reinventing their lives. A career change is no longer a one-time mid-life crisis -- it's an ongoing process. I find that people no longer want to reinvent their lives just once, but want to learn how to do it again and again, at each chapter in their life," says Herman.

What's the first step to reinventing your career?

"Most people looking to make a career change get stuck for a simple reason -- they begin with the wrong question. They ask, 'What do I want to do?' over and over. It's better to ask: 'What are my core elements? My likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, talents and abilities?' Then ask, 'What are my values -- the most important things in my life?'" advises Herman.

These core elements of your personality -- once you know what they are -- can serve as a rock-solid foundation, upon which you can build a description for your ideal job.

Here's another tip -- be willing to experiment. Never feel pressured to be 100% correct when defining your core values, strongest skills and desired jobs.

"Many people I counsel have a hard time creating a list of values and ideal jobs, because they're afraid of getting the wrong answer. They want to be able to change their minds later," says Herman.

Just as there's more than way to build a dream home, don't feel you have to find the one "right" job that's perfect for you. There could be three or four. Think about it: You can never predict with 100% certainty when or where you'll get that dream job. But it's almost 100% certain that you'll never find career happiness if you don't start looking. So the best way to start is ... to start.

Herman offers a third tip for career changers: Get an outside perspective.

"Most people have a hard time identifying their strengths, so they get stymied when trying to match their gifts with potential careers. One reason is that we tend to overlook things we do well and that come naturally. Most people think, 'What I do isn't so special. Anyone can do this!' And they're often wrong. That's why it helps to enlist the support of someone with an unbiased perspective. Many people seek out career or life coaches for exactly this purpose," says Herman.

You could ask family and friends for career advice. But beware -- people close to you have a defined image of who you are as a person. As a result, they may not be comfortable suggesting ways for you to become someone different.

Here's a final thought on designing a career you'll love.

"It used to be that people contemplated major career changes in their late 40s or 50s, as they went through a so-called mid-life crisis. Today people are re-examining their lives and re-inventing careers not once, but over and over -- in their 20s, 40s, 60s and beyond," says Herman.

Does this describe you? If so, you have company.

And now you know how to make a career switch by asking the right questions, experimenting with potential choices, and getting advice from others.

Why go to all this trouble? Because when you find a job that leverages your strengths and passion, work becomes effortless. Joyful, even. You get "in the zone" and forget about watching the clock. Isn't that how you'd like to spend the rest of your working life?

Now, go out and make your own luck!

- Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letters and job search help to clients in all 50 states. Author of "51 Ways to Find a Job Fast -- Guaranteed," Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio and many others. As a reader of this publication, you can get a Free Job Search Kit ($25.00 value) at the Guaranteed Resumes Web site - The Instant Job Search System.