When researching how to find the best career, you will find a lot of articles and books that suggest following your passion. Career gurus tell you that passion is the key to a fulfilling career. They explain it is as if it already exists within you and you just have to find it and follow it.
While this sounds good in theory, what happens if you don’t know what you are passionate about? The fact is most people don’t know what they are passionate about. This type of advice can leave you frustrated.
How do you find your passion?
The key to finding your passion so that you can find the right career for you is as easy as following your interests.
While you may not have found your passion yet, I am 100% sure that you know what interests you. Defining your interests will help lead you to a career that fits you.
Here are some journaling exercises that will help.
Exercise 1: Exploring your past
Think back to your childhood days when everything was possible. Back to when there weren’t demands on your time and you had the freedom to explore your interests.
What did you do in your free time? Were there activities that you would get lost in?
If you are having trouble with this exercise, take some time to chat with your family or childhood friends. Ask them what interests you had or what topics you would talk about nonstop. Use a journal to write down what you find or learn and take notes about the items.
Exercise 2: Exploring your present
Carry a journal with you for a week or two. Write things in it like: what articles or stories interested you? What activities did you do that you were excited about or enjoyed? Is there anything you did that you want to do again? Take a moment after each entry to reflect and write down what interested you about the articles, stories or activities and why this may be.
After doing these two exercises, sit down with your journal and analyze your findings. Look for reoccurring themes. Look for items that inspire you today.
Once you have identified themes start researching the topics and see where your interests take you. You may even be able to combine them. Explore your topics and a new career path idea may appear.
How to find the best career for you?
After exploring your interest areas, you may uncover a new role or career path that aligns with your interests. If this is the case it is time to focus on finding a position in that area.
Perform a job search and look for any position available in the field and apply. Once you find one, tailor your resume for that position and apply to it.
If the position requires a complete career change, don’t be afraid to take an entry-level job in the industry (if you’re able to afford it). You have an interest and aptitude for the field and job experience already. Work hard and you will advance back up the career ladder.
If the position is similar or related to the work you do now, then that’s great news! You will probably be able to land a job in the field with a little updating to your resume and some networking.
Networking can work in both situations. Don’t be afraid to share with others your career interests. One of the easiest ways to get into the career path you desire is by letting others know what you are looking to do. More than likely they will respond positively and offer to help.
By completing these two exercises, you will be well on your way to finding a career that is best for you.
Not ready for a new career?
If you are not ready to jump headfirst into a new career you may be wondering what other options are there?
The best option for you if you’re not ready to make the leap or if you still aren’t sure about what position would suit you is still to follow your interests.
Look for ways to gain experience in fields related to your interest areas or potential career paths, look for ways to gain experience in those fields. To do this you could job shadow or volunteer. I’ve tried both and each time was a success.
The first time I followed my interests, I had the idea that I wanted to switch careers completely. I wanted to go from Program Analyst to Environmental Scientist. I thought this would be a good career path for me since I like nature and always had an interest in biology and ecology. I knew to get into the field I had to go back to college, so I started planning for it.
While planning my career change, I read the local newspaper and there was an advertisement asking for volunteers for turtle nest surveys. I was excited about the opportunity and called the number. A few weeks later, I was out on the beach looking for turtle nests and counting eggs.
For the first few weeks, I enjoyed the work. I got to enjoy the great outdoors and I was helping save sea turtles. The other volunteers were awesome. Things seemed to be going well, but then I started to get bored with it. I was tired of conducting the surveys, it was hot and there were biting flies out.
As I was doing a survey one day, I realized that I didn’t want to be a field scientist. I like nature and being outside, but I knew that I didn’t want to do it full time. So that’s where that interest brought me. Had I not experienced the job before starting college, I would have another degree and a career I still didn’t enjoy.
I also followed my interest in farming. In my research, I found that a local organic farm had opportunities for internships over the summer season. I talked to them about interning at the farmer’s market and started the next week.
I spent one day a week harvesting vegetables, cleaning vegetables, counting vegetables and boxing them up for the market. It was about as exciting as it sounded. I decided being a full-time farmer wasn’t the career for me.
My next interest led me to experience job shadowing. I was interested in a career in Business Data Analytics after playing around with Human Resources (HR) data and the metrics section. I was fascinated by the data regarding why people left the organization and looked for correlations between the people and why they left.
I enjoyed this so much that I found the point of contract for that department and sent him an email to set up a job shadow. He responded positively and we scheduled a job shadow a couple weeks later.
I wanted to share how I followed my interests with you, so you can see some examples and how they played out in real life.
The best part about these experiences is I was able to find a risk-free way to try different career paths while maintaining my current position and not wasting time pursuing, yet again, another wrong career path.
Following your interests is better advice than following your passion. Interests are easier to identify and follow than passion.
I hope that this post has helped you define your interest areas and given you some ideas on how to get on your own path to work happiness.