Do what you love, they say. Finding a career and choosing a career path that is perfect for you takes time. Your career evolves and is part of you. Think of your career as a series of steps on the path of your work becoming an expression of you.
I realize that for some, that may seem like career advice out of left field, but read on: The process for finding a career that you truly enjoy is easier than you think. Be tenacious, flexible and patient with the information you uncover through the processes here.
Choosing a Career – The First Step
There are many careers and jobs that you can have that will allow you to do something that is enjoyable to you. The first step to choosing a career that is right for you is to find the essence of the things you enjoy most. There are many different jobs, careers and situations that can give you this essence. If you approach your career path in this way, you will find that each thing you do will build and evolve your career over time, combining the things you enjoy in new ways. And along the way your career becomes more and more an expression of who you are.
It is fun to approach your career in this way, but it requires a real focus and commitment over time. The first step to finding a career is to imagine and define it to the best of your ability. By creating a mental image of what you are looking for you will be clearer and clearer about what you really want to do. The actions will be easy and you will find yourself more able to recognize those golden opportunities as they come along.
Every individual has special skills and talents that they enjoy the most. If you can weave these things into your career, you will find yourself always doing something you love. Remember, this process of finding a career builds on over time.
Contemplation Questions for Finding a Career
Think back to when you were a kid, teen or young adult and answer some of these questions. Write down the answers as they come to you; there is no right or wrong.
- What did you enjoy doing most or exploring most?
- What skills did you enjoy using?
- Did you enjoy working with your hands, your mind, your voice, your eyes, your ears?
- Did you enjoy using your imagination or your left brain – your intellect – the most?
Once you understand the essence of what you want, it can come to you in many forms. Look for similarities between what you loved then and what you are doing now – or what you might like to do now. They likely point in the direction of finding a career you would truly enjoy.
For instance, my wife always enjoyed motivating people. She was voted “Spirit Commissioner” in her 8th grade class because of her enthusiasm. She also loved to write. In college, she studied journalism and public relations; two things that were a match to what she enjoyed most. Today, she is one of the few people I know that still holds a job in the area they studied in college. She is a regional marketing manager for a large company and though she has had many different jobs through her 20+ year career so far, the essence of it remains. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, she loves it.
You might say that finding a career was easy for my wife because she knew early on what she loved to do. Point taken. But it is never too late to find that thread of inspiration and to move toward it.
Fill in the Details of Your Perfect Career
Ask yourself some more questions, and continue to brainstorm and write down your answers. Remember, there is no right or wrong in finding a career. And you can change your answers at any time.
- As you create your ideal career, how many hours would you work?
- Would you work during day or in the evenings? On weekdays or weekends?
- Where would you work? Would you travel as part of your job or stay in one place? Would you work indoors, outdoors or both? Would you work at your own home or in an office?
- Would you work with other people or do you prefer to work alone? Who would you work with: Other team members, employees, employers, customers, children?
- Would you work primarily with people or would you work with figures or numbers? Music or art? Plants or animals? Or the earth itself?
- What pace or rhythm would you like? A fast pace with lots of decisions to make and excitement? Or do you prefer a slow and contemplative pace? Or somewhere in between? Think of the daily rhythm you would like.
- What annual salary would you like to earn right now that seems possible and realistic to you? What would you like to earn in 2-3 years?
- How would you like the money to come to you? In a steady, reliable paycheck? Or would it be all right to have an element of uncertainty such as being self employed or in sales? Do you want security in your job? Or do you want challenge and risk?
Think of the things that you are doing right now in your life that you love to do – things that you wish you could get paid for, they are so much fun. Those are the essential elements of finding a career or a career change that is perfect for you.
Create a Vision of Your Ideal Career
Finally, create a vision — a picture in your mind that you now have your ideal. Be bold, get outrageous and be imaginative. You do not have to be “realistic” in this picture, you have everything you want. Make it fun. You do not necessarily need to describe a specific job. Just imagine your day – the skills you would use, the activities you would do and the money you would make. Be aware of how your contribution adds value to other people’s lives as well. Write it down.
Once you have articulated your ideal career, identify a step or two that you can take — this week — to move a little closer. Be sure to read what you have written down; keep it in front of you as inspiration to take another step toward finding a career.
Know that each step you take, each job you take, each book you read, career change training opportunity you engage in and each new skill you learn is leading to your perfect career. Be patient and tenacious. Ideas and insights will come to you about new steps you can take. Act on them.
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