As the stressful season of year-end deadlines and pre-Christmas chaos boils down to a cozy yuletide break, there's no more fitting a moment, career counselors say, to take a pause by the fireside and reflect on whether your daily work is meaningful.
“A rare few people have a real career plan, some people have a vague idea of what they should do, and most people have no formal goals,” Executive Coach Jane Cranston says. “It’s when they get into their mid-30s that they start asking ‘where am I?’”
Better to start contemplating your life goals, she says, on December 30th than your 30th December.
That’s true not just because the solstice has a magic for forcing normally rushed professionals to peer backwards at the years gone by -- but because the winter months happen to be the prime time window to execute a career swap.
“Believe it or not, December, January and the first half of February are counter-intuitively, the best time to find a new job,” Fearless Career Change author Marky Stein notes.
But they're also pretty good months to find the joy in your old job.
Start by using the holiday time, Stein recommends, to ask yourself what's right about your job, moving from basic questions -- Does your boss respect you? Do your co-workers understand you? -- towards more core considerations, like “Am I proud of what I do?” she suggests.
“Finally, there’s the big existential question of 'Would I like to be remembered after my retirement or death as doing the position I am now doing and doing it well?” she offers. “People have to honestly face that question at one point or another.”
A career counselor can help break down that daunting dilemma into a mere challenge.
“We help people set and attain goals,” Cranston says. "The evidence is that most people attain more, faster when they have a coach."