What Should My Career Be? – Step 1: Growing Self Awareness
This is the first of a series of posts on answering the key question “What Should My Career Be?”
Doesn’t that sound like a doozy of a question?
Let me define doozy for you: if you do a Google search, you will find that there are 1.5 billion competing domains for helping a high school student find a college major. And that just talks about high school students. If you add in college students who discover they are in the wrong major, graduates who were unable to find a job, and those in mid-career transitions, the audience becomes rather large. The question becomes: How does one serve all these different groups? Aren’t there differences in the needs for each age group?
Of course there are. But underneath all the different concerns and considerations of these separate groups, lie the fundamentals of approaching a career search. This series of blog posts will address each fundamental pillar of figuring out the answer to the monumental question “What should my career be?”. Once this foundation is in place, we can then look at answering more specific questions such as “What should my major be?” for the student population.
The first fundamental I am going to introduce is: Growing Self Awareness. This objective of this first post is to help you grow understanding of yourself and what you want. I will also explain why this step is so important and ultimately, provide you with the right list of questions to start your journey.
Knowing what you want is a powerful, essential key to your career search. Without clearly defining what it is you want, you run the risk of:
1. Having an unfocused job search, resulting in fewer callbacks due to a more generic resume
2. If you do land the job, building an expertise/spending in a career you don’t enjoy, could burn you out, doesn’t provide growth, and overall leaves you feeling unfulfilled.
Many people start answering the question, what should my career be, by asking others that know them “What am I good at?” or “What do you think I should do?” While this a good question, it is not the most effective question to start with. The key is self awareness. Ultimately, you know yourself the best. Once you define what you like vs don’t like, then getting feedback from others serves you well. At that point, others can help you see possibilities you didn’t think of.
The better questions are, in the following order:
1. What do I enjoy doing that makes me feel good? Think about the last time you did something that you truly enjoyed. Don’t limit yourself to only professional items – maybe, it was having a great conversation with an old friend or finding exactly the right piece of furniture to finish off a room.
2. What do I feel I am good at? Think about your strengths. A great resource to use for this question is the assessment and book, StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
3. What energizes me? What are those activities that renew my energy, make me feel more alive/awake as opposed to drains me? There are many times when you find activities that you are good at or that you enjoy, but if you did them 8 hours a day, you would be drained. This is an important distinction to make.
4. Describe your ideal day. What kind of environment are you in? What activities are you doing? What kind of people are surrounding you?
The careers that bridge both what gives you energy and what you are good at/enjoy, this is the starting point for your career search.
So ends the first in my series of articles and hopefully, this signals the beginning of your journey. As you start, if you need a push or new perspective, feel free to contact me for a free sample session.
Your Coach Challenge: What methods have you tried specifically to help you discover more about yourself?