That ideal career might seem elusive, but with some effort you can build a personal brand that will lead to ongoing career satisfaction.

  1. Take the time to assess what is really important to you. Inventory your skills, values, interests, personality preferences, and constraints. Identify the lifestyle you want and decide how work fits in with the rest of your life.
  2. Define specifically what you want from work. Ask yourself why you are working and what you hope to accomplish from your efforts. I know we all need income but what other needs do you hope to fulfill through your work?
  3. Look for work options that allow you to use your natural way of working. Identify and find work activities that are engaging and satisfying. For example, are you at your best when you are creating, organizing, serving customers, researching, solving problems, convincing others, or coordinating people or resources?
  4. Continue to learn: take a course, learn a skill, try something new, or volunteer. By being a lifelong learner you build competencies, keep current, and develop your network of contacts. You are not likely to be left behind as information and work rapidly changes.
  5. Get feedback from someone regarding your strengths and areas for development. Listen to and learn from feedback. We are all works in progress. Don’t dismiss criticism, especially if you hear the same message more than once.
  6. Let people know what you can do. Demonstrate your competencies to others. Write a proposal, create a new resume, or compile a portfolio. Blog about what you know well. Share your knowledge openly with others.
  7. Make realistic goals and deadlines that take into account your roles and responsibilities. Many people create high expectations for themselves and are discouraged when they can’t accomplish everything they hoped for right away. Pick one small thing to do. Do it well. Then pick the next thing. Take small, manageable, practical actions.
  8. Find someone to mentor you and encourage your career development. Although you are responsible for your own progress and success, it is always helpful to have a cheerleader who believes in you and a coach who has ideas to foster your success. Don’t hang around with people who put you down or are going nowhere fast.
  9. Reward yourself when you meet a goal. Celebrate your accomplishments. Have fun. Take the time to enjoy and share your successes. This is not a dress rehearsal and there is no cast party unless you plan it.
  10. Make career shaping a lifelong activity. Assume you will be learning and growing throughout your lifetime. Accept and embrace change so that you are proactively positioned for ongoing success.


Donna Dunning, PhD, is a psychologist, certified teacher, member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty, and director of Dunning Consulting Inc. She is the author of more than a dozen publications, including her two newest books, 10 Career Essentials and What’s Your Type of Career? 2nd edition. Donna’s guiding principle is: Know yourself, respect differences, learn and grow. Follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook and visit her website.