I want to tell you about a terrific way to find clues that can help you discover what you’d be happiest, and most fulfilled, doing in your career. It’s called The Life Stories Exercise (also known as The Seven Stories Exercise, trademarked by The 5 O’Clock Club).
This powerful (and free!) tool won’t tell you what type of job to do next, but it will show you which factors to look for to have a satisfying career with purpose. I often use this exercise with clients in my semi-retirement coaching practice. And I’d say that some version of it is at the core of most coaching work — and career advice books.
In a moment, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions for the exercise and explain the Personal Profile Summary worksheet that accompanies this post. But first, let me share a real-life example illustrating how useful The Life Stories Exercise can be.
One Woman Finds Her Calling
A few years back, I coached a woman who wanted out of her corporate HR job, but didn’t know what to do instead. After completing this exercise, several key themes about her motivations, skills and interests emerged: Growing up, she adored playing piano and majored in music in college. Throughout her life, she has gravitated towards teaching roles — offering piano instruction to friends for free and helping co-workers master new software (even though that was not her job). After completing The Life Stories Exercise, it became clear that she was happiest working in team-oriented environments, but struggled in competitive corporate cultures.
Today, she teaches music part-time at a school, gives private piano lessons and hosts music-themed birthday parties for preschoolers. It’s work she loves with clients she adores — a far cry from her corporate life.
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