My wife was a public school teacher for almost 35 years before retiring in the summer of 2010. At that time, she was not sure what she would do next in her life. Since that time she has begun to occupy her life with a number of different activities. Some have been satisfying to her, while others have been less so. However, the number one activity that has definitely meant the most to her has been her work with Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA). While working with LVA was something she had considered even before she retired, actually being part of the effort has been invigorating for her. When I asked her the other day what she enjoyed about it the most she said to me, “Tony, I can see I am having a big impact on the lives of my students”. I immediately reacted to those words and asked her to explain to me further. My wife indicated the joy she received from seeing adults who had struggled to read when they first started working with her, not only improving their reading skills but willingly wanting to take books out of the library and practice their reading. Additionally, she found her students to be far more expressive both verbally and in written form before having started working with her.

It actually reminded her of her public school teaching years. When she was a full-time teacher her role was of a special instructor to students who did not speak English as a first language at home. A number of students worked with her during their elementary school years from kindergarten through fourth grade. The progress they made starting with her barely able to recognize the language, to ultimately moving onto middle school with the possibility often times of not needing special instruction, was a real joy to her. The LVA and its program with adults brought back that same sort of joy.

When working with my career coaching clients, one of the first things I attempt to gauge is what about their past career provided them passion. For some, one may find while they did a certain type of job they never enjoyed doing it or found it very worthwhile. Others may have indeed enjoyed some aspects of their work but not others. And, still others enjoyed the profession they were in very much and although currently unemployed want to return to it very much. We all have those aspects in our life that we enjoy versus those we do not enjoy. I would dare say that when we stop to take the time to analyze those items we consider accomplishments and which we truly have enjoyed, that the feeling of having a “big impact” is a part of that enjoyment.

If you have been feeling a bit down lately or overwhelmed and confused, take some time to reflect. What are the things that give you the most enjoyment in your life? How much of your current lifestyle allows you to make those things a part of your life? If those enjoyments come from the work you do, what are things you can do differently or possibly are there steps you can look to eliminate or lessen that will help to make the job more pleasurable for you? What are routine items that are a part of your life which have both good points and not so good points to them that can be restructured to maximize the occurrence of those good experiences?

Most of all realize that those items you tend to look forward to the most likely have some aspect of “impact” for you. That impact can be in helping others, it can be making you feel better about yourself, or it can be in accomplishing a task that once proved difficult and you now know you are one of the better to do it. On the other hand if you find yourself questioning whether that which you are doing still deserves your attention, then something is definitely missing. If possible to move on from it, do so. If committed to it for the present, find those aspects of it that bring out the best of you and emphasize them. What is that “big impact” you want to have on those who come into your life?

Author's Bio: 

Tony Calabrese of Absolute Transitions provides suggestions, approaches and information on how you can find a new job, move up to a new position, or change your career. To get his free report, "Overcoming Obstacles to Change Your Life" visit