If you watched the video by Marcus Buckingham called 

, then you know that you are at your best when you get to play to your natural strengths and passions on a daily basis. Very, very few people just land in a job they love. Instead, they figure out what they want and they go for it! The "Career Happiness Chart" is a terrific way to figure out what you want (and what you do not want).

Remember what it feels like to get "in the zone" where the time flies, you're having fun, and you're producing solutions at a wicked pace? It's magic! The alternative (being in a rotten job) is horrific.

The Career Happiness Chart is a toxic-job preventer. 

The Career Happiness Chart saved my life. At least, it felt like that. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is true. It sure saved me from staying in a terrible, awful no-good job.

My worst "toxic job" (I've had a few)

When I woke up in a job I hated at the age of 32, I was absolutely stunned. I did not understand how - or why - I had gotten there. On paper, the job sounded terrific. I’d been admiring the company for years and had several friends who loved working there (admittedly, they were in different divisions). Yet, one month in, I was absolutely miserable. Things were so bad that my husband looked at me one day and said “I don’t know who you are, but I want my wife back. You have got to quit that job.”

What a gift he gave to me with that one statement: permission – and pressure – to quit. That job was sucking the life right out of me and turning me into a monster.

However, before I quit, I knew I needed to figure out why I was so unhappy to make sure I did not jump out of the pot and into the fire again. I needed to figure out what went wrong, and how to pick a better job next time. I did a ton of assessments, but none of them gave me the same clarity I got from this exercise I created for myself.

What I learned from the Career Happiness Chart:

  1. I crave variety, change, innovation and collaboration. I can't stand being stuck at a desk all day, working solo – and I’d been in several jobs like that because I happen to be good at desk work.
  2. I didn't understand why I liked some jobs and why I didn't like others ... so I picked the wrong job. As I ranked my past jobs, all of a sudden I realized that some jobs were much worse than I remembered, and some were much better.
  3. I had the most fun AND the greatest success in jobs that played to two things: my natural strengths and talents (what I am naturally good at) AND my passion. Just because I am great at doing a job does not mean I will enjoy it. For example, I'm really good at cleaning houses, but I HATED that job in college! Two things I really love doing, however are these: helping people, and building better mousetraps (making things work better). Both energize me, and I bring great enthusiasm to jobs where I am responsible for innovation and mitigating risk. I stand out in roles like that because my heart and brain are on fire at the same time. I am hitting on all cylinders.

It's no coincidence that my happiest jobs were also the ones where I was the most successful. When I was in the right job for me, I performed at a much higher level and was happier. I got promoted. I made more money. My favorite jobs involved challenge, change, teamwork and innovation. Every day was different and kept me on my toes. Guess what: my perfect job might be a nightmare for you! That's why it is so important for you to plot your own career history. This exercise will help you figure out where YOU thrive and where you are at your best. Furthermore, it will help you see clearly what you love to do and what you hate to do.

P.S. I had 25 jobs and 6 careers by the age of 34! No matter what your career history looks like, I am walking testimony that you can pay the bills AND have a blast at work.