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How to Know What Career Is Right For You

article career goals & purpose job you love meant to do puzzle Jul 15, 2020

How did you know what you should do with your life? 

Did you have permission to explore a lot of different ideas or were you essentially told what you would do by someone else? 

Have you ever asked yourself, “What career is right for me?

I don’t know very many people who enjoyed the freedom of discovering the intersection of their talents, passions, and potential vocation. Including myself.   

I’ve always been creative, but other people in my life felt that pursuing this “talent” was like drawing a “Go Directly to Poverty” card in a board game. The obvious (only) responsible path to success is a degree in business. 

Listen, if they said it, I believed it and did it. 

They were wrong. 

I knew it in the middle of a Macro Economics class sucking the life out of me that this not the path for me.

If you think that would be an opportune time to pursue my thing, you’d be right. But I didn’t. I was battling two lies: business degree, and creativity = death. I still believed one. I spent 20+ years wandering and wondering and wishing I could find my purpose, always feeling this unidentifiable angst in my soul. 

Which sucked. 

Whether it was that we didn’t know we could, or we were told we couldn’t, many of us never took the time to understand how we were made and where we fit into the world. It’s not about what careers make the most money. It’s about knowing how to find a job you love.

Assessments like DISC, SOI, Strengths Finders, etc., only give you a piece of the puzzle. They focus on your strengths, which is great. But they’ve missed the boat on a few other critical bits of info.

You feel like something is missing because it is

Hey, if you enjoy living a life of chronic disappointment and perpetual dissatisfaction, stop reading here. But if you are sick to death of letting yourself down, read on.

Discovering what you want (and were meant) to do in life may be the hardest but most important work you ever do. 

Despite what Buzzfeed tells you, there is no magic formula for finding your life groove. Sadly, knowing which Disney princess you are won’t help. 

What will help is taking the time to get to know yourself. Not just what you like, but also what you don’t. Start by answering these questions. (Don’t be humble here. Go for braggadocious.)

  • Name three things you excel in.

  • What kind of advice do you give all the time, almost without thinking?

  • What do people always ask you to do or assume you’ll do?

  • In what type of situation do you feel the most you?  

  • What thing do you hate doing that you’d pay someone else to do if you had the money?

  • When was the last time you cried (or were deeply moved) about something other than yourself?

  • What makes you angry and fired up in the world? What injustice ticks you off the most?

  • Name one or two people you envy and why.

  • If you overheard someone at a party talking about you, what would you want them to say?

I recommend grabbing a notebook and thinking these through for several days. Forget everything you know and get back to basics here. Don’t let other people’s opinions have influence in this space. 

Each of these questions is a piece of the puzzle. Clues that, when you put them together, begin to reveal the bigger picture. 

You’re a smart cookie so I don’t need to tell you, but it’s worth repeating, there is no such thing as the perfect job. (Side note: Can you even imagine how boring that would be? No thanks.)

The key is to answer these with about 80-ish% confidence. Shoot, most people will kill to be 80% confident about their life-purpose. Take the win.  

One other tip. This may seem dumb, but you’ll thank me later. Make a non-negotiable appointment with yourself to simply think. It’s not wasting time or being lazy.

Give yourself permission to use your head. 

What a novel idea. 

The next step will be figuring out which direction to take but do this first. Isn’t it time that you finally figured out what you were meant to do with your life?