It’s highly likely that you’ve heard Confucius’s saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Finding your true calling is a process that takes time, effort and soul searching. Think of it as an investment that could pay lifelong dividends in the form of fulfillment and a permanent cure from ‘the Mondays’.
Today is a great day to embark on your search for job you will love. Whether you are employed or not, this is a journey that cannot be rushed, so prepare to allocate some time for the process. Below are steps you can take over several weeks. Set aside a specific time each week, such as Tuesday evenings after dinner. Tackle one step each week, and throughout the rest of that week, keep the step in mind.
Step 1: Understand Your Motivation for Change
People generally want to make changes for two reasons: to get away from something or to work towards something. If it’s the former, determine what it is you don’t like about your present situation. It can be a good starting point in outlining your ‘dream job’. Identifying the reason for your dissatisfaction may also allow you to gain a better perspective and help you create a coping strategy so that even as you remain in it while pursuing your true passion, you can remain productive and perhaps even become successful.
If you are looking for change because you want to pursue something you’d have more passion for—then go ahead and dream big! Take the time to plan your own career makeover, but also keep all of your options open to path your way to a new beginning. You are about to embark on a journey towards a career you will love, enjoy and thrive in for careers to come, so it will be well worth it.
Step 2: Envision Your Future
To paraphrase another famous a saying, ‘If you can conceive it, you can achieve it! It costs nothing to make a list of what you would love to be doing on workdays—as well as when and where you will be doing it. Visualize the perfect work scenario when you are productive, energized and happy to be doing what you are doing. What time is it? Are you at an office, at a store or maybe working outdoors? Are you working in a company, doing freelance work or doing something entrepreneurial? How much do you need to earn to cover your bills and live comfortably? How far are you willing to travel to work? Would you like to work from home, have a ten-minute commute or wish to relocate?
These are just some things you can envision. Again, you are trying to visualize your dream job so sky’s the limit. Whether it is as a CEO of your own company, a manager at your current place of employment, or working as nurse, an interior designer or a video game programmer, you are trying to fully envision your dream, so don’t hold back! Factor in your personality and lifestyle (do you prefer structure or freedom, are you single or with a family, and so on) to solidify what you can truly and happily pursue. Write down your answers, or you can even start a journal so you can review, revisit and fine-tune your thoughts.
Step 3: Rediscover Your Passions
Responsibilities and ‘real life’ cause many of us lose to touch with our interests. Still, in many cases, these are so deeply ingrained that they remain in our subconscious. It manifests itself in the magazines we subscribe to, our favorite section in the library or bookstore, or even in the blogs we visit. Write down the categories, topics and activities that most interest you. If you have a project or task that has been set aside for until you are less busy, ask yourself if it was shelved because you had no time—or because you just aren’t that enthusiastic about it.
After writing down your interests, try to compress them—either by elimination or by combining similar ones, into three items. Some trends should emerge and give you an indication of where your interests and even passions lie. Remember that you have only completed two steps at this point, so it may be too soon to identify possible job positions or careers. Ultimately, these interests may not be directly what you choose to do, but they may guide you in identifying something that allows you more time and opportunity to pursue them.
Step 4: Determine Your Values
This step isn’t to appraise your worth in compensation—it’s more important that than that. It calls for digging down to what fundamentally matters to you. If interests are what you like, then values are what you are. They are what help you make decisions, both big and small. The root of job satisfaction can often be traced to the job conflicting with one’s values.
Since one’s values serve as his or her core motivations, doing work that is in sync with one or more of your values will most likely bring you more satisfaction.
What you believe to be your greatest personal accomplishments, who your most admired people are (and why you admire them), your pet peeves, your thoughts on what you would do if you won the lottery—the answers to these questions such all point to your values. Make the list as long as you can, and at the end of the week, condense your list to three values.
Step 5: Know Your Strengths
As you start your fifth week into this process, you will have identified your reasons for shifting careers. They could be to leave a job that is making you unhappy, to find a job that is more flexible, pays better, is closer—or even farther—from where you are now, and so on. You have also identified what you are interested in and passionate about as well as what you value and believe in.
Those are the emotional aspects of what makes you tick. Now it’s time to put on your analytical hat and objectively determine where your strengths lie. There are several abilities tests you can take online or at career centers. Examples of these are the COPSystem, Johnson-O’Connor and Highlands Ability Battery tests. These are not tests that evaluate your personality type or your emotional intelligence. Instead, they evaluate your innate abilities and help you determine your work style and abilities. Once you identify these, you will be able to pinpoint types of work that will bring you satisfaction because they rely on your natural strengths rather than underscore your weak points.
Step 6: Take Stock of Your Skills
Now it’s time to create a list of your skills—these are what you learned from school, previous jobs and accumulated life experiences (organizing, graphic design, budgeting, gardening, electronics, Web development, childcare, etc.). Sources for this may be the various recognitions you received from your school days to the present, your resume, and feedback from people who know you or whom you have worked with. Once you have created an exhaustive list, narrow down and condense them into your top five skills.
Step7: Finalize your Lists
You are now on the final step and the last leg of your quest to find your ideal job. The past six weeks may have taught you some important things about yourself, not only professionally but also personally. Now it’s time to create a very compact profile of the career possibilities that will make the most of your potential, talents and skills. You will now gather and finalize the results of the previous six weeks into several three-item lists: your top personal interests and passions, your top values, your top strengths, and your top skills. Write or type your list and carry a copy with you at all times. It can be a piece of paper or saved on your smart phone—the important thing is you can show and share it with your friends, family and other people you trust for career advice. Ask if the list reminds them of certain jobs or vocations. More importantly, refer to the list when searching for opportunities online or when attending networking or career events.
In a way, searching for and pursuing your dream career is like detective work, except all the information is within yourself. Starting with more general details, you work to identify what really counts and what is truly within your strengths, interests and capabilities. The reward can very easily be the discovery of truly exciting opportunities, or maybe even ways to make your current situation work for rather than against you, as it can be a way of supporting yourself as you pursue your passion. Understandably, we all have responsibilities as well as bills to pay. These steps and the resulting lists won’t help you immediately shift careers, but it will help you solidify your vision and craft a strategy to move forward.