For any decision making – ‘Follow your heart’ seems to be the common advice out there.
But my so-called ‘heart’ wants different things at different times and sometimes even different things at different times of the day.
So, I just don’t want to go with a feeling, but rather want a rational decision-making process for something big like my career.
Hence, I have been researching, thinking and talking to people about this for a while now.
I had already written a part 1 of this How to find your career series. In this part 2, I have come up with this eleven step process of figuring it all out.
The right career is the intersection of five things –
- What you are good at
- Your subject interest
- What you enjoy doing
- Your Why
- Your life priorities
But before anything –
The big uncomfortable question.
Who are you?
Who really are you?
Who are you emotionally and intellectually?
Finding out a satisfying career or life for that matter is directly proportional to how much you know of your real self.
Now, you don’t need to do a Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi (a cult Malayalam travel-self discovery movie) or a Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to find out who you are. (Although you might consider it, not sure of the results though.)
You can do it right from your bed or work table.
Step 1 –
Do some legitimate personality tests. Ones I recommend are –
Step 2 –
You might want to open a word doc or take out a pen and paper at this point.
Each of these tests gives a detailed description of your personality. Read them very carefully. Write down whatever that resonates with you.
For example, some of the things I have made note of are –
- Loves to innovate
- Taking up initiatives
- Big picture person
- Loves playing around with new ideas and theories and so on.
- Crave creativity and freedom
- Loves connecting with people
- Get stressed easily
- Poor practical skills
- Hard to maintain interest in one single thing.
- Are often the leader and guru.
Step 3 –
Question people about you.
Whom should you question?
The thumb rule is – anybody who has spent a lot of time with you, or any friend who are generally critical and people observant.
Here is my list –
- Your family members – parents, sibling or close aunts or cousins.
- Close friends
- Any other friend who is generally a people observing kind of person.
What questions to ask them?
- What do you think I am good at?
- If you are to seek some help from me – on what would it be?
- Describe my personality in three words.
Step 4 –
Time for some self-interrogation.
Ask yourself these questions –
- What am I good at?
- What are some instances where I was appreciated for what I did?
- What are some things I did or I am willing to do for free?
- What did I do in my school and college life?
- What are some instances I felt really satisfied?
- Something about me, I get told a lot?
For example, you might be the person everybody comes for a fashion advice. Or the best person for a pep talk. Or the conflict resolver in a friends gang. Or that person who successfully persuades everybody to go on a trip. Or a planning person – who like to just take out a paper and plan things.
All these are clues for who you are and what you will be good at.
So, what am I good at?
Now, the idea here is to find out what you are naturally good at based on your personality.
Changing yourself for the work you want can make life very hard and often won’t produce great results.
Rather, finding the work that naturally fits you can make life a lot easier and is the best way to serve the world and make maximum impact.
“You need to find what you are good at, not just for you, but for the world itself.”
Step 5 –
You must already have a career list that the 16th personality test recommends.
Write it down again under the ‘what I am good at’ heading.
Google careers for your personality type. For example, my personality is ENFP and I googled – “careers for ENFP”
There are many ‘not so well researched content’ out there. So read everything carefully and only accept what sounds logical to you.
Now, look at the list of things you wrote from personality test description, answers from the people you questioned and the lists from self-interrogation.
Some of the things there might be direct like writing, organizing or singing.
Some are indirect like compassionate, helpful or problem solver.
Google careers for each of these traits.
For example, sensitivity is one of my major personality traits.
I googled – “Careers for sensitive people.”
I made a note of careers they suggested, careers I should never take up and also the kind of work environment or life that would fit sensitive people.
After you have googled for all for all your personality traits, you must have a set of careers you might be good at.
Step 6 –
We will slightly prioritize this list.
You will want to put careers from your dormant three personality trait careers on top.
And also put the ones that occur for more than one personality traits on top of the list.
So, now you have an ordered list of these you might be good at.
The next question –
What are your interests?
If you have are strategizing or planning person – you can do that it in many fields – like construction management, urban planning, product management, events planning, operations and so on.
The field you choose depends on your interest.
Step 7 –
Let’s find out your interests –
- Go through your browsing history – look at some topics about which you are reading or watching a lot.
- What are some books you have read or want to read? What topics do they belong to?
- What subjects fascinated you in school and college?
- What are the other subjects you are curious about?
Write all of these down under the heading of ‘My Subject Interest.’
What do you enjoy doing?
What you enjoy doing is something that sets you in a state of flow –
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
Step 8 –
- Write down the instances in which you have experienced this state of mind.
- Try out things from what ‘I can be good at’ list and see what gets you in this state.
Now, there might be many things that get us in the state. We enjoy many things just because its new.
What we should look at is something we can form a long lasting relationship with.
The career should offer enough challenges on the way and we should also have a sense of why you are doing this.
Thus, Enter the why –
Now, you might call this your ‘Why’, ‘Purpose’ or simply your way of helping the world and making a difference.
So purpose is basically how your job is helping other people.
And this is where the key element of job satisfaction also lies and is what will get us out of the bed every morning.
“Passion is what gets you started – purpose is what gets you going.”
I started writing purely for passion. It helped me solve my problems and gave me a high. But, later I didn’t need writing to get a sense of clarity and my passion moved into other things. But what kept me writing is realizing that what I am writing is useful to people and helping solve their problems.
Step 9 –
Ask yourself these questions to find your ‘Why.’
- What are some of the causes you really care about?
- What are some things you really want to change?
- What are the jobs in your ‘good at’ list that is impacting the world – in a way you like it?
Write all of it down under the heading of ‘My Why.’
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What are your lifestyle priorities?
As I wrote in the part one of this article on careers – designing your career is like designing life itself.
We need to know the kind of work environment and lifestyle that naturally suits us.
Step 10 –
What are your top five priorities in a life or work?
Read through the personality description notes you made in step 2 and the notes you made from talking to people who know you.
Also, think of things that worked out or didn’t work out from your past life experiences.
So, my life priorities now go –
- Creative freedom
- Not a lot of stress. (I suck at handling stress)
- Being there for my family.
The top two must be something you never want to sacrifice in any of the work you take up. Others can be the ones you slowly work into.
Step 11 –
Look at the careers that fall into the intersection of these five things.
And yes, there will be more than one career. This should surely take some pressure away from finding the right career.
Things take time and a lot of experimentation
Don’t expect to figure everything out right out of school or college.
Self-discovery is a very twisted path.
You think you know something about yourself only to have it busted from some new experience.
Thus, it requires a lot of trial and error and going into the actual world and experimenting. No, you can’t figure it out lying in your bed thinking. (like I did for a long time).
And you don’t need to quit your job either (if its a job you don’t hate). You can experiment while keeping your current job – through freelancing or volunteering.
Or if you are a living in the edge kind of a person – you can dedicate a whole year to experimenting with various things.
Your knowledge about yourself increases and changes through all these experimentations.
Thus you need to clean and update all these five lists – of what you are good, what you enjoy doing, your ‘why’, interests and lifestyle priorities from time to time.
And it needs to be changed to the changing you.
So, keep updating, especially the life priorities one.
Build a life, not just a career
We are all complex beings. We are multi-layered and full of contradictions.
Hardly, can there be this one single career that fulfills all parts of us.
So, rather build a life around who you are and what you want to do – whether it is in terms of having parallel careers or one career that makes money and a mixture of volunteering, side projects, and hobbies.
Ok. That’s it!
I really hope this is of use!
This is definitely my most hard-worked piece.
Feel free to mail me if you have any doubts.
This is the process that worked for me – add your own innovations and improvisations to this!
Is there something that helped you get clarity in this problem? Comment below so that its helpful to the other Way Of Living readers as well.
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