6 Ways to Discover Your Perfect Career

by Brad Isaac on February 11, 2006

Have you ever felt stuck in your career? Employee stress and burn out can account for a lot of dissatisfaction in your life. After all, you are at work some 8 hours a day or more. That’s 1/3 of your day if you don’t count sleep. That’s a long time to be dissatisfied.

If you feel stuck, here are 6 ways to discover your ideal career

Brainstorm on a sheet of paper – I’ve talked about this before and it’s a strategy I use all the time. Take a pad of paper and write down at the top your objective in question form. Then, simply list out 20 answers to your question.

For example, in this case, you would write “What should I be doing with my time and life?” Then stay seated for a half hour to an hour coming up with answers to that question. The key to this exercise is coming up with 20 answers – don’t quit until you have 20 answers.

You can repeat every day until you get the answer you seek.

Ask 3 close friends – Sometimes our friends know us better than ourselves. While meeting with one of your friends, mention you are at a crossroads in your life and career. Ask what they think you’d enjoy doing. You might be surprised at how easily they can zero in to your strengths and abilities and report a perfect job area.

Ask your boss and coworkers – much like your friends in the example above, your boss and coworkers most likely see you in a way you do not see yourself. In fact, they are likely most familiar with your strengths and weaknesses in the work environment.

Compile all the answers you get from them and see if there are any common threads you can explore.

Call a headhunter – If you are searching in your career, it’s likely you have a resume. Sometimes you can catch a headhunter or recruiter during their slow times and meet with them to pick through what you might be good at.

I’ve done this at different times in my life and the people seem open to talking with people. After all, if you don’t get paid, they don’t either. The ideas I get are usually good.

Take a career assessment test – There are several sites on the Internet you might be able to take one of these tests for a fee. But using my ‘headhunter’ tip above, many headhunters have this software and don’t mind you taking the test in their office.

I’ve taken these tests two times in my life and they usually take an hour or two, but they are thorough. They ask you to answer a series of questions about what you are good at, what you like to do, what you prefer doing over what you don’t. If you take one, you will likely see some new exciting areas to explore in your life.

Keep a journal – Do you keep a journal? If so, read through, looking for common threads in your writing. Keep your eyes peeled for trends and activities you like as well as don’t like. In fact, finding examples of what you don’t like and what frustrates you is almost as important as finding what you do like.

For example, if you hate an overwhelming boss, you’d probably like a self-directed position. If you hate nosy coworkers you’d probably prefer your own office.

Discovering what you really want to do with your life is the most important decision you can make. We spend 1/3 or more of our lives at work. So figuring out the right career is important to keeping that 1/3 of our lives happy and productive.

Technorati Tags: productivity, gtd, Goals and goal setting, work, Lifehacks

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February 12, 2006 at 1:19 pm

Good article. I particularly agree with the idea of asking your boss on your stregnths and weakness. You also might want to journal these and keep a running list against what you think your boss’ strengths and weakness are. It might reveal some surprising trends as to the type of person that you work best for and the perceptions from the ones that you don’t feel as productive with.

February 14, 2006 at 9:31 pm

Hey, thanks for the comment, makes sense to me. Keep the running list, and keep it handy.

February 15, 2006 at 11:19 am

. . the example of feeling more than thinking makes the meditative aspect of life come through. The integrity of how much you offer comes from doing it by choice. People seem so goal oriented they forget to enjoy (and share) the process. Thanks

February 15, 2006 at 10:09 pm

First two steps are brilliant

James Richardson March 26, 2007 at 9:52 am

Good article … the main problem for some, including myself is that if your interested and ‘good’ at a lot of things, how do you narrow it down and realize what you should be specializing in? It seems very important today that one must specialize whereas in the past the ‘jack of all trades’ philosophy could get you by.

Ray May 29, 2009 at 6:14 am

Good article. You mention online tests – any preferred/recommended links?

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