Try Some Introspection

by Teresa Whitacre

Don’t just look for a job that fits what you have always been doing—especially if you are frustrated in your search for a job in the same field or particular geographic area. Rethink your career and job search.

Use the adage “do what you love and the money will follow” to your advantage. How? Introspection is a good tool for your career and life assessment. Introspection is defined as “a view of the inside; process of self-examination or inspection of one’s own thoughts and feelings; reflection.”

You are probably asking why introspection is important to your job search and career. Introspection helps you analyze what is most important overall to your health, career and life.

Professional and Personal

The August 2004 issue of Quality Progress focused on personal quality—how our quality thinking and training can help with our careers, health and well-being. If you feel overstressed, fearful about your future career or job choices, or unhappy with your job overall, introspection may be just the tool to analyze your situation.

When one of my previous employment situations was in jeopardy, I surveyed my own career direction to determine which way I should go. During my five-month employment search, I was fortunate to have several interviews and obtain more than one job offer.

I considered the following: an opportunity to relocate out of state, consulting type work with nearly constant travel, a position with 65- to 80-hour work weeks and a larger salary, and two other local positions that seemed to fit my skill set.

I was unsure which direction to go. Relocating was not a choice, especially with a working spouse and children in school. I also knew I would be utterly miserable if I were constantly on the road or constantly in the office with 65-plus-hour work weeks.

My introspection led me to choose a position that meshed well with all my personal and professional goals. Sure, there is something to be said for the prestige and high compensation of some offers. But remember what the personal quality issue strived for—balance. Prestige and high salary are only part of your career and life.

I suggested another associate try introspection on her career. She thought about her 15-year job at a QS-9000 registered tier two supplier. She had thoroughly enjoyed her positions in quality assurance and quality engineering until a few years ago when the company changed ownership and management, and strife began.

I related her situation to a key theme in the book FISH: A Remarkable Way To Boost Morale and Improve Results: “The toxic energy dump—it just sucks the life out of you.”1

Need More Than a Paycheck

My associate said she dreaded going to work because of this feeling and added, “All I get out of this place is a paycheck—nothing else. There has be to more than that.” Her health was even affected because of this mind-set toward work.

An article in Guideposts magazine stated we spend as much time (or more) with our co-workers as we do with our families.2 As much as 80% of our waking time is with co-workers. No wonder my associate was feeling as she was.

Introspection for her led to preventive action and improvement. While she did not change jobs, she found small ways to improve her work and health. She now takes walks at lunchtime whenever possible to alleviate stress. She limits her encounters with the “toxic energy sucking people.” She even found methods to make work efficient and fun again. Introspection caused her to be healthier and more productive—in her life as well as her career.

Losing a Job

It is easy to let the fear or reality of losing a job affect you, as was the case with me. It is also simple to let the stresses and changes consume your life and health, as was my associate’s case. In both situations, self-analysis was the key to improvement, coping and survival.

Introspection into your life, what is important to you—personally, professionally and financially—helps minimize these fears and stresses. Introspection will also allow you to examine and discover your hidden talents and interests—maybe even a new career.

Once you are feeling balanced and happy with your life overall, you will find it much easier to network and market your current or hidden talents. A new opportunity is waiting. You just have to discover it.

My friend and I could be much richer financially right now had we made other choices. But by making the choices we did, we are much richer in the quality of our lives. Which choice is yours?


  1. Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen, FISH: A Remarkable Way To Boost Morale and Improve Results, Hyperion, 2000.
  2. “Take Your Job and Love It,” Guideposts, October 2004.

TERESA A. WHITACRE is a quality assurance process leader for Respironics Inc., a respiratory device manufacturer and distributor near Pittsburgh, and principal of Marketech Systems. She authored a quality technology text used by the ASQ Pittsburgh Section for certified mechanical inspector and certified quality technician courses and has instructed both. Whitacre holds a bachelor’s degree in quality engineering from Pacific Western University. She is a Senior Member of ASQ and holds the Society’s quality engineering, quality manager, quality technician and quality auditor certifications.

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