Column: Creating Work That Matters

 In Culture, Feature

Career coach Dieter Pauwels talks strategy for making it happen.


It’s estimated that the average person will spend more than 60 percent of his or her life doing work-related activities, so why spend that time in a career that doesn’t fit? Wouldn’t it make sense to find a meaningful career you like and enjoy? I don’t know many people who’d willingly opt for the alternative, so perhaps the better question is: How do you find it, or even begin to know what you’re looking for? It’s a question I hear time and time again as a career and life strategy coach.

Here’s what I say: You know you’re in the right job or developing a career path you enjoy when your work satisfies your needs and reveals your personal strengths and qualities. Still too abstract? Think of it this way: If creativity is important to you and you enjoy working with others in a team, but you find yourself crunching numbers all day long sitting in an isolated cubicle, it’s time to make a change and move on. It all sounds so obvious when you say it out loud, but you’d be surprised at how many people I see who have no idea they’re doing themselves this same disservice, in some form or another.

A Changed Environment
We live in a fast-paced and interconnected world where anything is possible. The power of social networking, Google and other technologies has significantly changed the environment we live and work in. Things are in constant flux; no job or career is permanent—and with this comes incredible opportunity for those willing to act on it. More than any other time in history, professionals can choose their own path, one step at a time, and discover what really works for them.

It all starts by changing the way you think about your career—or the many careers you might have over your lifetime. It’s no longer practical to think about it as a stagnant linear progression or a predetermined path based on your past training, experience or college degree. There are tons of possibilities out there that might be interesting, meaningful and a good fit based on what you feel is important to you at this moment in your life. If learning new skills is important to you right now, look at jobs on a temporary assignment or project basis. Stay flexible and constantly reassess where you’re going based on your needs, values, goals and priorities.

Deciding What Matters Most
Creating work you love and developing a career that truly fits you can only be accomplished by discovering ways that express what you’re most passionate about. The better you know yourself, the more honest you are about what you really want to do in life, the better choices you’ll make and the easier it will become to take action. Success comes from having the courage to express more of who you really are in a world where the pressure to do anything but is tremendous.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

-Do I really know what’s important to me in a career or a job?
-How important is personal growth and development?
-If I knew I could not fail, what would my ideal job be?
-What am I most passionate about?
-What’s holding me back from creating a career that’s aligned with my personal goals, values and aspirations?
-What assumptions am I making about what is and isn’t possible for me?

The bottom line is this: If you find yourself in a job that’s unfulfilling, now is a good time to take a step back and reevaluate the path you’re on. Even though the prospect of change can seem daunting, especially if you’ve been in a career or industry for some time, an indescribable feeling awaits when you realize that with uncertainty, anything becomes possible. The choice is yours…

About the Writer
Dieter Pauwels is a life strategy coach and career/business consultant. As a personal coach, he supports people in creating positive change in their personal and professional lives so they can achieve the results they want. He is a weekly guest on KPLR 11 News at Noon with Christine Buck. For more info, visit



Creating Work That Matters

Creating Work That Matters


Photo credit: Illustration by Sarah Quatrano

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