By Kristen Carter
Contributor, Career Services
As a Career Coach, it is not uncommon to speak with students who are unable to articulate what they want in their future careers. For some, it simply requires probing questions or a career assessment to reveal their career passion. Other times, students initially believe they know what they want, until they find out what their dream job actually entails. This sobering realization often causes disinterest and confusion. In these circumstances, it is clear they may have glamourized a role, or were pushed in a particular direction by close family and friends having been told it is “what you are good at.”
At the end of the day, it is imperative that you know for yourself what you want to do. An oft asked question, designed to evaluate your internal motivation or passion is: If money were not an issue, what would you do for a living? While some may be able to immediately blurt out an answer, others may have to take some time to ponder the matter. Either way, your response typically reveals a true passion.
Sandy Neumann, in her article “Discovering What You Really Want,” outlines four key strategies to help you on this journey.
- Take the journey. Revisit your childhood dreams. Take self-assessments. Write down what inspires you. Throughout this rediscovery process, it is essential that you do not make excuses or talk yourself out of your dream job.
- Notice other people’s discoveries. Personally, I find this the most motivating strategy. When I hear the inspirational stories of what former colleagues or high school friends are doing, this excitement is contagious and causes me to self-reflect. Their personal fulfillment appears genuine, and it is apparent that money is not their primary motivator.
- Open your mind to the possibilities. If you are anything like me, you label yourself based on your previous jobs. If you are the go-to computer expert for your family and friends, you identify yourself as such. Thus, you may find yourself pigeon-holed by such titles, which then dictates the types of positions to which you apply. Simply stated, just because you possess a strong ability to do something does not mean this is your passion. Each of us possesses certain inborn skills, but there are some that elicit personal satisfaction more than others.
- Read daily. Neumann also makes several book recommendations relevant to the career journey in her article. Most recently, I have been reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, and have found it enlightening. Intentionally seek out inspiration and you will likely find it, sometimes in the most unexpected places.
I encourage you to put these strategies into action to help you discover what you want out of your career.
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