Discovering Who You Are: A Key to Careering
An old saying goes, “Man does not eat by bread alone.” And let me add, neither do women.
The saying gets at the idea that we all need more than the basic necessities to thrive. Apply the saying to finding the right career, and it implies that we need to do more than make good money to find happiness at work. The truly successful person makes good money and LOVES the work they do too.
How do you find that balance?
We can get on the road to work happiness well before we step foot in college, vocational school, and graduate high school. The first step begins with discovering what you love to do and what you are good at doing. One way to do that is to take a Birkman questionnaire—it’s a comprehensive personality and interest assessment that ultimately led to me finding the right career—but I’ll talk about that in an upcoming blog. Today we’ll focus on some more general concepts.
As a high schooler, learn what you love to do and are good at doing by attending summer camps, working in a variety of jobs, and volunteering in various organizations. Ask yourself what you liked most about the camps, the jobs, and the work you did in the volunteer groups and write down your responses. Your answers will give you some insight into what type of careers may be right for you.
If you’re in college and only now discovering your work likes and dislikes, find some time outside of your studies to pursue extracurricular activities that will give you further insight into what you’d like to do for a living. If you are really pressed for time, these activities don’t have to be long term. The beauty of college is the abundant offering of activities of varying length. Joining the college newspaper as a staff writer, for example, is likely a longer commitment than volunteering to write press releases for the annual spring flower show. So pick activities that will fit with your available time and explore! Write down your discoveries about your likes, dislikes, and what you excelled at doing.
If you’ve graduated college or vocational school, worked in a few jobs, and found yourself fairly or completely unhappy at work, it’s time to reboot. Despite the circumstances, keep doing your best at work, but in your free time, start exploring your interests. Just like the high schooler and the college student, write down a list of things you like to do, then find activities that will allow you to explore your interests.
For instance, if you love to take photographs, check whether your local community college or another organization offers photography classes. If you take classes and discover you truly have a talent for photography, start researching careers that take advantage of this skill. Talk with people in those careers and learn what jobs your prior work experience, combined with your new photography skillset, qualifies you for. Talk with people in your workplace too and learn about other jobs you can do there. Perhaps you’ll find that you don’t have to change workplaces, just the job you do for your current employer.
On the other hand, say you work in landscaping, but you’ve discovered you can’t stand being outside in the hot summer months, in the mild months of spring and fall, and on the occasional winter days you are called out on a job. In short, you don’t like working outside! Not only that, you really don’t like planting flowers, shrubs, or doing lawn work of any kind. If you could spend all your time on Facebook and Twitter commenting about the latest fashion releases inside the comfort of an office or your living room, you’d be in heaven. Bingo! Sounds like it’s time to explore social media and fashion-related career options.
It’s never too late to start discovering who you are and what you love to do so that you can find the right career for you. Here’s to careering! Cheers!