I Just Work Here

Writing your work narrative

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What's your work story?

What's your work story? ( Getty Images)

A few of the key steps Slim offers for establishing what she calls your "body of work" include:

•Define your root. (Figure out whom you want to help, what kind of changes you'd like to make in the world and what ideas drive you emotionally.)

•Name your ingredients. (These are your skills, life experiences and ideas — the things that make you unique.)

•Choose your work mode. (Think about the work you've done and when you've been at your best, and then consider what you want to be doing in the next phase of your career.)

These are important things to think about, whether you're job searching or happily employed. If you don't examine where you've been, you'll struggle to chart a sensible path toward where you'd like to go.

We no longer live in a working world where careers unfold at one company.

People job hop, suffer layoffs and other setbacks, find new and unexpected paths to follow.

Careers, more than ever, are journeys, and it's incumbent on each of us to monitor and faithfully keep up on our work travelogues.

In Slim's book, she wrote: "No one is looking out for your career any more. You must find meaning, locate opportunities, sell yourself, and plan for failure, calamity, and unexpected disasters."

That sounds a bit foreboding, but it's accurate.

Use the start of a new year to figure out your work story. It may take time, but it will help. And I'm willing to bet it will be easier than riding a narwhal, nude or otherwise.

TALK TO REX: Ask workplace questions — anonymously or by name — and share stories with Rex Huppke at ijustworkhere@tribune.com, like Rex on Facebook at facebook.com/rexworkshere and find more at chicagotribune.com/ijustworkhere.

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