a question for all adults and how to make the answer easy
If you ask any child under 10 what they want to be when they grow up, chances are you’ll get a quick, enthusiastic and certain answer.
When you put the same question to grown-ups, the answers are often vague and vexed.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our ability to connect with what we really want to do. Fulfilment seems hader to find. Fear replaces courage and indecision leads us on a never-ending quest to find the ‘right’ job.
When I became a management consultant many years ago, I thought it would be the perfect way to find my dream job. Working with many different organisations would give me a ‘sneak peak’ into a wide variety of careers. I fully expected to walk into a company, see someone doing something I’d love and ‘bingo’ – there’s my answer!
The reality was very different. While I did get to check out many different jobs, industries and organisations, I mostly saw people who were struggling to find their ‘perfect’ job, just like me. Many had fallen into roles opportunistically, being in the right place at the right time, rather than consciously deciding that this was what they really wanted to do.
Fast forward 5 years and I’m now being paid to do something I love but it didn’t happen until I worked out how to find my dream job. If this sounds like you, take heart!
How to find work that feeds your soul and puts a roof over your head
1. Go back to your childhood!
Mining your past for vital clues is a great way to spark your imagination. What did you love doing as a child when anything was possible? Recapture your childhood dreams and notice what it was about each one that excited you.
When you were a kid (before reality set in), limitations were few which created the freedom to be whatever you dreamt. Notice how you focused on what you wanted to ‘be‘ rather than ‘do’. Hmmm, there’s another clue.
2. Stock take your career and life so far
Looking back over everything you’ve done, list the achievements and tasks you’ve really enjoyed. Even the less fulfilling experiences will provide clues about what you could and should be doing. Now write down everything you haven’t necessarily enjoyed and quite frankly, never want to do again. What was it about the positive experiences that ticked all your boxes and the negatives that left you cold?
3. What are you good at?
Inevitably, what you’re good at is probably what you enjoy most. Over the years you’ll have gained skills and knowledge that have led you to become an accomplished expert in one field or another. Even if this type of work has past its expiry date, the strengths you’ve gained in this area can be converted into transferable skills.
4. Know what difference you want to make
There’s a reason we’ve all been put on this earth and now’s the time to reveal your overall purpose. Far bigger than a single job or career, this shapes who you are in all the life roles you play. What problems do you like to solve and what really matters most to you?
Often this is more closely related to what you care about, than what you do for work. Knowing it consciously will give you far greater choice and help you make clear decisions about where to from here.
5. Get curious and explore all the options
Many of today’s jobs weren’t even invented 5 years ago and the path to fulfilling work starts with curiosity. Your answers to the previous questions will have revealed some key themes.
- What do your childhood dreams, career and life so far, strengths and your purpose all have in common?
- What do they reveal about you?
Once you’ve identified these themes, start researching what’s possible.
Now you’re consciously aware of what you want to be and therefore do, career magnets (ie those roles, industries and organisations that tick your boxes) will jump out at you. Keep and open mind, imagine and explore what a ‘day in the life of…’ would be like?
The key to finding fulfilling work is to ask the right questions. Rather than saying, “I couldn’t do that because…”, ask yourself, “If this were possible, how could I make it happen?”
6.Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway
Once you’ve decided which direction you’ll take, develop a plan to bridge the gap and commit to one small step at a time. The transition to your new career will take as long as it needs to and gaining the support of family, friends and mentors will help convert your possibility into a reality.
What would a day in your perfect job look like? Life’s too short to not be doing what you love. Blow away the excuses and discover what you should be doing, now you’re ‘grown up’!Carpe diem