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Would You Rather Clean Than Read a Career Book?

By Christine Fader

My friends and I always seem to gravitate back to two main topics in our conversations: relationships and careers. How can we get one (hunky hearthrob, great career)? Is it time to leave one (dumpy dingbat, crummy career)? And, how, exactly can we get one of those lives that are portrayed in the movies? You know the ones.

There you are, all young and beautiful and newly despondent because your love has left you for a long-legged protégé but you console yourself by somehow having enough money to travel to a romantic, sunny European country on holiday where you marvel at how wonderful your hair looks in the non-humid, seaside air and you spontaneously buy a vineyard and live out your lifelong fantasy of writing cookbooks. Sigh…if only real-life dream careers tended to work like that.

As a career counsellor, I know there are some great (and, admittedly not-so-great) books out there on how to work towards a great career. The problem is many women would rather clean under their kitchen sinks, than read a book about career management.

I don’t blame them. A glass of red wine (or indeed, tackling the scary, greeblies hidden under the kitchen sink) seems so much more appealing after a hard day at a job you’re not really crazy about. It can be difficult to feel energetic enough to turn to a career book full of self-assessment quizzes and assignments on finding your “passion”.

Here’s a tip I use to make the process of figuring out your career a little less dry: finding a great career is a lot like finding a great romantic relationship. Start by thinking about what’s on your wish list.
Just like in romance, once you might have been happy if you found a cute butt. And while “cute butt” job might have cut it a few years ago, maybe it’s just not enough any more. Allow yourself to dream the dream, even if you can’t pursue it right this minute.

Also, here are some other (admittedly superficial) but fun ways to inspire your career journey:

1) Try picturing your dream job as (fill in Hollywood Heart Throb’s name here). It’s hard to feel uninspired about working towards your career goals if it’s aligned with Hollywood Heart Throb (HHT) isn’t it?

2) Even if a career move isn’t in the cards for you right now, picture your current job as (lesser but still amazingly sexy Hollywood Heart Throb). Pick an even more attractive HHT to symbolize your dream career.

3) Try to re-commit to what’s great about your current job while still taking small, frequent actions to help you work towards your dream job.

4) Stay focused on the fabulousness that is your current or dream career by creating a screensaver, clipping a photo from a magazine or chanting your HTT’s name under your breath while you’re doing the least-favourite part of your present job.

Of course, women think and talk about more than careers and relationships. But approaching your career like a romantic relationship might help you stop sitting on the side of the road to your dream career and start taking some action. All that action leads to great career prospects on the horizon.
And that’s a lot more fun than cleaning under the kitchen sink.

Christine Fader works as a career counsellor and is the author of the new book, Career Cupid: Your Guide to Landing and Loving Your Dream Job (Writing on Stone Press, 2009). Contact her through

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