Jane Lowder Jane Lowder is the founder of Max Coaching, an agency that specialises in providing coaching services to individuals and organisations. Jane is passionate about assisting individuals to clear existing career confusion and maximise their career satisfaction. To find out more view Jane’s full bio or visit the Max Coaching website. Follow Max Coaching on: twitter and facebook.

“I Don’t Want to be a Passenger in my own Life”

By Jane Lowder, Max Coaching

So goes a quote by Diane Ackerman, prize winning author and poet. A lot of people tell me they feel that they are passengers in their own career.

  • “I just fell into this”
  • “This job came along and just carried me along with it”
  • “I haven’t ever really thought about what I wanted to do”

are comments I frequently hear.

Intelligent Career Management, the theme of this blog, is about being the pilot of your career rather than a passenger. In this Part II of the “This is not my Beautiful Job” post we explore the core and crucial step of making the shift from passenger to pilot.

It is a somewhat amusing story now, but was a disquieting conversation at the time when I met with a third year university student who was seeking career guidance. Our conversation went much like this:

Student - I don’t know what I want to do after I graduate.

Jane - Do you enjoy the content of the degree that you’re currently studying?

Student - Yes, um, no, um kind of.

Jane - What subjects do you enjoy most in your degree?

Student - Um, I don’t know.

Jane - What first led you to choose this degree, what were you attracted to about it?

Student - Hmm, I don’t know.

Jane - Which were your favourite subjects at school?

Student - Music.

Jane - What was it that you enjoyed most about Music?

Student - Ah, I don’t really know.

Jane - What do you like to do in your spare time?

Student - Nothing much.

It was clear we were not going to get far. Why? Because this student was a blank when it came to the fundamental element of personal choice - self awareness.

If we don’t know what our work-related preferences are, the skills and knowledge we possess that we also get a kick out of utilising and what we want out of a career, then how are we to make an informed and intelligent career decision?

Equally, how can we possibly expect to ‘wow’ a recruiter or employer if, when faced with such questions as “Tell me about your strengths”, “Why should we hire you?”, and “Where do you see yourself in 3 years time?” we draw a blank?

Next time you find yourself stuck in traffic or delayed on public transport, instead of dreaming of the exact wording of the dressing down you’d like to give the local transport authority if given the chance, start thinking about the exact wording that would describe you.

  • What are you like when you’re at your best?
  • What are 3 skills you possess that any employer would value in an employee?
  • What have you achieved in your day today?
  • What are you proud of having done/been/studied?
  • What are your favourite work-related tasks in any given day?

Try this activity 2-3 times a week for 1 month and take notice of how it changes your thinking about yourself, your career and your future. See if it doesn’t help to shift you from the position of passenger to that of pilot of your own life.

Have you done this already? Share your stories with us here.

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One Comment

  1. […] you don’t want to ask someone else you trust about what you bring to a position, Jane Lowder of Career EQ offers up some good questions to ask yourself in her article “I don’t want […]

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