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Ask This Question to Find Your True Career Path

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Some people believe that loyalty to one job or company—also known as “staying put”—is the key to professional success.

But Joel Peterson, chairman of JetBlue Airways, says in a recent LinkedIn post that it’s nearly impossible to develop a great career without switching jobs along the way.

“Without change, there’s little room for personal growth,” he explains. “The best careers sometimes come from changing industries, changing geography, or changing job functions. Other times, they require switching companies—or even starting over.”

To figure out whether you’re on the right path—or if a career change might be necessary—Peterson suggests asking yourself: “What would I do with my life if I didn’t need a paycheck?”

“It’s as good a question as any to get you to brainstorm ideas for a career plan. But it’s not enough,” he says. “Once you’ve answered this question, you have to consider whether anyone would pay someone to do what you’d be willing to do for free. And if they would, are you good enough to get paid for doing those things?” If not, he says, consider a career that’s a “close cousin” to what you’d do for nothing.

After that, you’ll want to ask yourself what’s keeping you from moving toward that career. “Is it your present job? Your employer? The industry you’re in? Your pay? Your boss? Your future prospects? When you figure out the key obstacles, decide whether you need to go outside your current employer or industry to pursue the career you want,” Peterson says.

If you determine you can stay at your company, contemplate career paths available to you there. And if nothing with your current employer interests you, consider an “elegant move”—”one that doesn’t hurt your employer, that doesn’t involve going to or becoming a competitor, and that secures a great recommendation and a permanent invitation to alumni get-togethers.”

This post originally appeared on

Photo: Tomasz Paciorek / Unsplash


Career Path #Find Your Passion #Passion #Career Passion Career Advice
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I'm in a career that I love, but due to circumstances I have become a newbie. I'm an innovative, international, inspirational, romance poet. Everything I wrote I won awards for, but was very quite about it. I'm in books & on tapes, BUT they were sued, I do believe financially. I didn't join this action, because it didn't effect me & they gave me my start. It was so easy to get published: Joined a contest & I was published & accepted. Now a days, it has gotten tough out their, so I'm published for years & I become a newbie. Just too tired to fight through all the red tape of getting through the red tape. Waiting for an answer, which could take months. Due to major trauma that I neatly gave up, I lost my confidence. I'm becoming a public speaker, but until I get a clean bill of health from the trauma, my doctor refuses. Losing my confidence, questions like Am I good enough into todays world. I was told I was, but I am too hard on myself to even believe it. Taking a confidence course everything course I can take: Web, copy writing, gig & so on I'm taking. What is holding me back is me, frankly I'm scared to death!!

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