Confucius said, “Choose a job you love; and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That is most everyone’s career dream, right? Do something you love. However, in today’s world, it isn’t always easy. There are many factors that can make it difficult to find a job that you love. Responsibilities and constraints like financial and family obligations, where you live, where you went to school, and your past work experience and skill set can affect your ability to do what you love.
So how do we navigate the balance between finding the thing you love to do and working within your constraints? Here are some first steps to get you started, and the eight things you need to consider to identify the right fit for you, balancing the passion with the practicality.
Know what you want. One of the ways to get started knowing what you want — whether it’s a job change or not — is to write a list of things you want to have in your dream job. There are two ways to this. First, create a list of Likes and Dislikes. Second, dig underneath your passions and dreams to discover what you want to do.
Action Tip: For your Likes/Dislikes list, think of something you’ve liked about a job in the past and write it down. Think of something you’ve disliked in the past; write it down as well. Then write down what the opposite would be in the Likes section. To dig underneath passions/dreams, write down your dreams or times in your life when you have felt lit up inside, then write down why that was the case. Was it working within a team that you loved? Was it that you were challenged? This can help you define the important elements of your ideal career.
Define fulfillment. This step is important because it impacts everything else. It will sustain you through your career ups and downs and will give you clarity about your career direction. So how can you define fulfillment? 1. Define what success means to you. 2. Identify your interests, or things that, when you engage in them, you lose track of time. 3. Determine what your ideal day at work would be; qualities you see and activities you would engage in. 4. Write down your top three career values.
Action Tip: Take 30 minutes this week to write down your answers to the four questions above. Add them to your list of wants in an ideal job.
Consider these career elements from our Ideal Career Model. Once you have defined what fulfillment is for you, you need to determine other things that go hand in hand with job fulfillment. Things such as:
- Enjoyment — Tasks you enjoy that you want to perform outside of your main role/task.
- Talents/Skills — What you are naturally good at, as well as skills you’ve learned over time.
- Education — Any past courses you enjoyed; there could be clues here to possible interests, but also the tasks you are qualified for, of course.
- Experience — Past work-related experiences you’ve enjoyed and which ones you would want to carry forward or continue to leverage in your dream job.
- Personality Type — To find the right fit, you must also understand who you are; what work environment is best for you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Your personality type interacts directly with the work.
- Environment — What type of culture do you want to work in? Consider location and the values of the organization as well.
- Compensation — A final, critical factor is your salary, and the benefits as well. We always have our clients start with the Fulfillment piece of our career model first, because they will get closer to finding a job they truly enjoy than if they started with compensation first. Along the way, if they have to compromise due to compensation, that’s fine. But they will be closer to the dream because they started with what would be most rewarding first.
Action Tip: Take the Strengthsfinder.com strengths assessment. This is an easy, low-cost assessment that will help you determine your strengths to begin to understand what you are good at and what you could be qualified for, an important piece of the model.
Brainstorm. Now that you have a list of your core elements, you can start to brainstorm careers that would be a good fit for you. Don’t be afraid to think big. This step can be overwhelming with so many options, so research possible careers online (www.onetcenter.org, https://www.mynextmove.org/, and http://www.createyourcareerpath.com/career-tools/free-career-tools/ are helpful websites) and brainstorm with your significant other or a close friend.
Action Tip: Stay organized while brainstorming. Use a journal app on your tablet or an Excel file to keep your research and relevant links handy.