Getting old is hard to do. Getting old AND knowing your career path is even harder to do. When we were younger, people always asked the quintessential raison d’être of life “What do you want to be when you grow up?” From the age of innocence we’re supposed to have some specific-yet-general idea of what we want to do with our lives. After college, after some jobs that we couldn’t stand and/or after trying to get ahead in these economic times – most of us as “grown-ups” are still trying to figure out what we want to do once we’re actually “grown up.”
For most of us, the hunt for a career that we love has been removed from the fun, youthful idealism that we approached it with as kids. Today, we approach it with pressure, anxiety, and edginess. Instead of enjoying the ride of youth, after a certain time frame we’re stressed about figuring out who we are professionally.
While this is something that seems to be difficult, annoying, and frustrating – figuring out what career choice you want to make boils down to three things: being self-aware, doing your research, and being proactive. Below I’ve broken down the three steps and some questions you can use to map out where you want to be when you grow up, now that you’re all grown up.
The first step to living your passion is to speak to the kid in you and articulate your strengths, weaknesses, and interests.
If practicality, training, education, and finances weren’t an issue what would you do for a living? What did you always dream of being and why? By going back to what your childhood aspirations were you’re allowing yourself to identify what first appealed to you. Ask yourself the following to help get a handle on your interests and what you think the ideal job is:
1.) When I was younger what did I want to be?
2.) What appealed to me about my dream job?
3.) What do I like to do in my free time?
4.) What do I hate to do in my free time?
5.) What are my best assets as an individual? Professionally, what am I good at?
6.) What areas do I need to work on?
7.) What did I love/hate about my previous/current jobs
Next, the research component comes in.
For all of the things you’ve ever wanted to do, someone has done it. Armed with the power of the internet, you can be sure it’s been documented. Once you look at a few of your dream jobs, it’s important to think about what skills and personality traits are needed to work in that field. What are the career trajectories, education, and background of people within your field(s) of inquiry? What are the hours needed? You can take your research further by networking and meeting people who are in field(s) you may be interested in. If you’re really shy, Twitter is a great way to observe and keep up with trends.
The last step is to be proactive.
It’s been said many times that if you live your passion the money follows. In order for that to happen, you have to “know thyself” and make good on doing whatever you need to gain exposure, knowledge, and become a part of the field(s) you see yourself in.
You can rinse and repeat these three steps as often as you need to truly figure out where you want to be (although you may want to start with no more than 2-3) and take active steps to learn more and do more. Take away (or shut out) all the external pressures, get re-acquainted with yourself (both the old-school and new-school versions) and have fun with the knowledge that as a grown-up you’re never quite done “growing up”. You have time to live your passion.
Anne is a entrepreneur who juggles many of her passions including writing, nonprofit consulting, service and traveling. As an active woman on the go, Anne’s true passion lies in helping others in whatever creative ways that she can.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com
Category: Personal Branding