High school classes, a university degree, countless extra-curriculars and you still might be unsure of what career path to take. For some it’s instantly clear what steer to take for their career; they envisioned becoming a doctor or a lawyer for years. Or it might be the case that some find that they thought that they found the right path but later realised that this wasn’t what they were actually passionate about. While for others, they never truly find any right career path. Picking the right path can be daunting, especially at a young age. Many people end up picking a career for the wrong reasons, e.g. to follow a high salary or because they were pushed into a role by their parents. However, if one wants to succeed passion is required. With the wrong motivations and a lack of passion, burn out and frustration is almost guaranteed. For all the people struggling to choose the right path, here are two ways you can identify what you truly want to pursue your whole life and what will make you happy.
Let’s begin with a simple and short task. Take a sheet of paper or notes on your phone and ask yourself the following question, ‘What would you do if money didn’t matter in this world?’ It’s a difficult question to answer but think of what lights you up the most, the activity that makes you feel like the world belongs to you. There is no right or wrong answer. It can be anything from banking to baking cakes to writing books. No matter what you write down, the most important thing is that you are passionate about it. Maybe some of you will have written down drawing cartoons. At a first glance, it may appear a little limiting but the deeper you dig, the more you realise the different types of roles you can do with this interest. You could illustrate for magazines, books or films, be a freelancer and make customised drawings of people on Etsy or Fiverr, create a course that teaches people how to get into drawing or how to draw in a specific style, sell your art prints and much more. The lesson to be learnt here is to not forget passion from your career. Giving a chance to something you love could create a stream of income, as people say ‘You miss a hundred shots you don’t take.’
The second way to identify what’s right for you is a little more complex and requires more effort, nevertheless, worth it.
Step 1: This is a so-called ‘inventory of skills’. You write down all your skills. Proficiency isn’t a factor and you can write down as many skills as you want. It is key to look back at the different situations you’ve been in, positions you’ve held (not just at a workplace but also in your personal life) and identify what skills you have either shown or acquired including any praises or feedback that you have received. This step usually takes time, self-reflection and a bit of critical thinking. The deeper you deconstruct each of the chosen events and your actions, the more you will see your impact and the skills you’ve demonstrated.
Step 2: Take all of the above-mentioned positions you’ve held and consider what you have liked and disliked about each. You will see that for some, what you enjoyed most will come to mind instantly, while for others it may be hard to find. This particular part of the exercise is fairly simple but it does one important thing: it eliminates the choices you will have at the end.
Step 3: We call this the nine lives though experiment. Imagine having nine different lives where in each life you have to have a different lifelong job. Any nine jobs in the world, regardless of income, education needed and other factors. If possible, for some of the jobs choose those that aren’t even mildly in the same sphere. What you will hopefully discover is that some of these can be merged into one, for example: being a teacher, a tropical wildlife researcher and a nature photographer. At first glance, these are three different careers but when you put more thought into it, you can become a biology or ecology professor who spends half the year teaching at a university and the other half living in a rainforest researching and photographing wildlife to send to National Geographic. Obviously, not all jobs will be combinable but try to be creative and find a way to make it work. Through this method, you can develop a better understanding of the field you want to work in and what interests you.
Step 4: Look at the jobs you’ve chosen and merged and try to match those with the skills you’ve written down previously. As simple as it sounds, the job with the largest skillset match could be your entryway to finding your dream job.
We live in a limitless world, one full of new opportunities. No matter how niche your dream job you is, it is worth giving it a go. Hundreds of new positions are created every year, your skills and passion will be needed by someone, somewhere. If your dream job is something that you truly enjoy, you’ll find a way to make it profitable. Your career is something that will follow you for the rest of your life, make it something that you will be proud of and happy about.