Make Your (Career) List and Check It Twice



Are you a list maker?

Are you the shopper that purchases only the groceries on your list or the shopper who is values food spontaneity?

When my daughter was little, she would give me a very detailed birthday or Christmas list months before the occasion. She was always ready and had no problems asking for exactly what she wanted. She still had no problem asking for what she wants LOL.

When was the last time you wrote a birthday or Christmas list? Why is it so easy to ask for the gifts we want but we often neglect to give the gift of professional joy, peace, and fulfillment to ourselves?

January is a strong month for job searching and hiring. Are you doing the work that you want with the salary, commute, benefits, and work schedule that you want? Is it because you are unsure of what you want your next career move to be? I believe that you know exactly what you want, you just haven’t convinced yourself that you can have it.

Let’s go back to the joys, wonder, and excitement of childhood. Grab a pen and paper and make list of exactly what you want in your next role. Writing things down helps you clarify what’s on your mind and in your heart and increases your focus. Be very specific when making your list. Don’t judge or censor your desires, just let yourself dream.

Have a little trouble letting go of the constraints of your current circumstance or the idea of what is reasonable or realistic? Start with the following questions:

  • What industry or field do I want to work in?
  • What population do I want to work with?
  • Do I want to do administrative work or direct service?
  • Where do I want to work – region, city, state, country?
  • Do I want to work full-time or part-time?
  • What company or kind of company do I want to work for?
  • Do I want to manage people?
  • What kind of manager would I like to work for?
  • What hours and days would I like to work?
  • Am I willing to commute, or do I want a remote position?
  • How far and through what mode of transportation am I willing to commute?
  • What is the minimum salary I am willing to accept?
  • What must my compensation package include?
  • Do I want to work independently or as a part of a team?
  • Do I want to work in a small agency or a large one?

How did that work for you? If you’re still having trouble detaching from the doubt or limitations of your current situation, try a different strategy. Fold a piece of paper in half and on the left side write all the things you hate about your job or that you don’t want to do or to be a part of your new work experience. On the right side of the paper write the (exact) opposite of the things that you don’t want. When you’ve completed both lists tear the paper in half and throw away (or shred or burn) the left side of the paper and only keep the list of the things you want to materialize.

Put your list in a place where you can view it often and then view it often. Update as needed.

We’ll focus more on your belief system a little later.


Nicki Sanders, MSW, ushers high-performing women of color in mid-level social work and human services leadership through promotion to senior leadership. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.

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