Tuesday, September 2, 2008

20 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself if You Want to Smarten Up About Your Career

It's the first day back at work after Labor Day, and it just feels different.

I'm not sure why. Is it the kids back at school? The closing of the neighborhood pools? The local nursery stocking mums and pumpkins?

Whatever the reason, it strikes me as a new beginning. A chance to take a deep breath after the craziness that goes along with summer and consider where things stand now, and where you want to head in the coming months.

But instead of offering you advice about what you should and shouldn't be doing, I'm going to ask you to offer your own opinion about your situation. After all, who knows it better than you?

It's time to ask yourself these 20 questions:

1. What is the best part of my job?

2. What is the worst part of my job?

3. What task do I like the least?

4. What task do I like the most?

5. Who is the most difficult person for me to get along with at work?

6. Who is the easiest person for me to get along with at work?

7. When was my best day at work?

8. When was my worst day at work?

9. In one hour at work, how many times am I distracted from a specific task?

10. What is the source of my distractions?

11. The last time I made a mistake at work, it was because....

12. When the mistake was discovered, I felt....

13. I handled the mistake by....

14. Other than my own job, the position I'd like to do within my company is....

15. The job within my company that I would not like to do is....

16. When I am feeling stress about my job, I leave work and handle it by....

17. I last updated my resume on....

18. I last attended a networking event on....

19. Three facts I can tell you about my industry's current condition are...

20. The last time I talked to a higher-up, other than my direct supervisor was...

Now, look at your answers. No one is going to see these but you, so be brutally honest. Are you satisfied with where you are now? Are you taking steps to ensure a future that makes you happy? Have you learned from your mistakes? Are you stuck in a rut? Where are you stumbling? Where are you succeeding?

Are there other questions that might be helpful for a career assessment?



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Blogger Thom Singer said...

One other question-

What do I bring to this company that is spectacular and unique? (and do they know it?)

September 2, 2008 9:19 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

I love the way you phrase that question. Too often, we get caught up in doing our job on auto pilot, and forget that we need to find that special "oomph" -- and make sure others know about it!
Thanks for adding such a great idea.

September 2, 2008 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note: I believe Karen meant to post this comment here, not on the previous one. So I've pasted it here:

Karen Putz said...

This is a great list of questions here, Anita. I'm in the middle of transitioning to a new job with a different company as well as working from home. I'm juggling a little too much, so now I have to define the direction I really want to go in.

September 2, 2008 9:51 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

I've been in your position, and I remember I would become too distracted by things that didn't really matter. But if you know the answers to these questions -- and update them periodically -- I think it can be really helpful in clarifying what you want, and don't want.
Thanks for posting.

September 2, 2008 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Barbara Safani said...


Great list! Another question I recommend people ask themselves is "What impact have I had in my position over the last year and what is the measurable proof of that impact."

September 2, 2008 5:56 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

That's an excellent one, because it reminds us that we need to keep "real" proof of our contributions...memos, reports, kudos, etc., and if we're not doing that, we need to start ASAP!!

September 2, 2008 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Shawn said...

I'd like to add "When was the last time I did something to grow my skill set (take a class, ask for more responsibility, learn something new)?"

September 3, 2008 10:24 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

Good point...too many people go to work and keep their head down and hide out. They don't realize that they not only hurt their career -- but miss out on some terrific interactions and experiences.
Thanks for adding to the list.

September 4, 2008 9:34 AM  

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