Do you struggle to know what career path will be right for you? Or are you doing a job that you like but you have a nagging sense that there could be something better out there for you?
Most people, when they are trying to make a decision about what to do with their lives, are not asking the right questions. Sometimes they are not asking any questions at all.
Take Adam. He’s a teacher and likes his job a lot but is thinking of changing because he’s started to wonder whether there is something better out there. The problem is that the more he thinks about this and talks about it to his friends the more confused he becomes. His friends fall into one of two camps; the ones who tried to persuade him to stay in teaching because he is such a good teacher, seems to like it and, anyway, they ask, what else would be do? Then there are those who say it sounds exciting to do something else and ply him with suggestions about the kinds of things might he do instead.
Neither approach is particularly helpful.
So, let’s have a look at what doesn’t work when you’re thinking about a career change.
1.Considering all sorts of jobs you think you might like to be doing. This seems like the obvious thing to do but it can be the most unhelpful thing. Why? Because it’s unlikely you will know enough about other jobs to know whether you will be good at them and love them. And even if you do have a good idea about what a job involves, it’s hard to know whether you would thrive in it.
2. Asking other people what they think you could do instead. This is unhelpful for the same reason as 1 above. Even if they do know something about other jobs how can they possibly know whether you will be a good fit for those jobs.
3. Browsing the Internet job boards. This might make you feel like you’re doing something useful but actually it can make you feel overwhelmed and even more frustrated.
So what should you be doing instead?
Before you start considering other jobs or types of work, you need to understand yourself well. You need self insight of a particular kind.
You need to know what you really love doing, what you’re naturally drawn to (and what you’re not), what energises you, what you’re good at and what motivates you. These factors are crucial to a job we love. It doesn’t mean to say that each will be true every minute of every day if we’re working in our ideal job. But if we’re not doing things that tick those boxes most of the time we won’t be fulfilled.
In Adam’s case, considering the questions above, he discovered that he really loves helping others, he gets a buzz out of solving problems, he likes to be creative, he also loves order and he is very motivated by making a difference and being in charge. He really doesn’t like the practical side of fixing things though, he doesn’t like to work within set rules and he doesn’t love connecting deeply with others. This insight revealed why he dislikes certain aspects of being a teacher and school life and the job so much. It also gave him a check- list against which to assess potential new careers.
Knowing yourself, your strengths and what makes you tick is important because you will only thrive and be fulfilled in a career where you can be who you really are instead of trying to make yourself into something you’re not! If you would like more help discovering your strengths check out The Strengths Book: Discover How to Be Fulfilled in Your Work and In Life
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