One of the questions I’m asked most in my workshops is, “What if I don’t know what I want to do?” Taking the time to answer this important question is invaluable, as we spend a good amount of our lives at the workplace.
Discovering what you want to do is a process; there’s no quick answer. If you’re serious about finding your dream job and willing to put in some hard work, however, the ROI is priceless. Here’s where to start.
What are your values?
Although you might have to think about it for a minute, you already know what’s most important to you. Is it work-life balance, or building your credentials regardless of the hours required? Is it the people you work with, or do you care more about the technology and processes? Do you like to be given clear direction, or would you prefer to figure out how to solve the next problem?
There are no right or wrong answers; it’s just your preference. The simple question to ask yourself to help you determine your values is: “What’s most important to me about my career?”
What are your long-term goals?
It’s hard to figure out what career direction would be a good fit if you don’t know your long-term goals. If one is to have a successful startup, some companies wouldn’t give you the training you needed, whereas others would be great places for learning how to run a business. If your goals include making a certain amount of money and retiring by a certain age — say, $5 million by age 55 — many jobs wouldn’t offer a salary large enough to help you get there.
The discovery process
Rod Brooks, chief marketing officer of PEMCO Insurance, and I were chatting a while ago about discovering your passion. He told me about a method he had learned.
First, think of three things you experienced before age 18 that have some significance to you. These might include learning how to drive or getting your first job. Then, think of three significant events that occurred between age 18 and now. These could be things like getting married, graduating from college or getting a promotion.
Write down these six memories. What do they have in common? What emotions do they share? What are the similarities? What made them stand out among all of the other events from your lifetime?
When I did this exercise, I found out that I enjoyed learning, helping others and making a difference. The reason I’m happy with what I do is because I get to feel these emotions on a regular basis. All I have to do to stay happy is make regular business decisions that keep me on this track. If I don’t, I’ll find a way to make the necessary adjustments.
It isn’t always this easy. You might want to talk to people who used to have your job but are now doing something totally different. Find them on LinkedIn by doing an advanced search for people with your title and seeing what they’re doing today.
Something about their career move might inspire you. If you’re unclear on how to follow the same path, reach out to them. I’m sure they’d love to hear from someone who’s wearing the same shoes they once did and tell you how they made their transition.
Live Seminars in December
- December 5 (Bellevue, WA)
- December 8 (Bellevue, WA)
- December 10 (Bellevue, WA)