As you take delight in the blooming flowers of spring, you might be inspired to plant some personal seeds that will blossom into a new career. Trying to figure out what you want to do with your life can be both challenging and exciting. You can often find clues to your future by stepping back in the past and reflecting on your experiences, accomplishments and those unique and special talents that you may have been taking for granted.
Think of your career as a life long process requiring a careful evaluation of your values, skills and interests. Most of us hope to find work that exercises our abilities, stimulates our ambitions and suits our personalities. This search is no easy task. If you take the time to focus on your interests, belief system and strengths, there is a good chance that you will be able to generate some novel career ideas that have the potential to be a good fit.
Below are some basic, but undeniably essential steps to help you identify and explore that new career direction:
A simple place to start as you begin to identify your skills and values is to consider what you have achieved. Look back through your whole life storybook from work to volunteering to family life. Nothing is irrelevant. If you are proud of designing and planting a garden in your backyard it demonstrates creativity, spatial ability and organization skills. If you have received promotions in your job, it may reflect leadership, analytical thinking skills and diplomacy.
Values highlight what is most important to you. These essential indicators signal how you feel about the work itself and how you might want to contribute to a work setting. Do you want to work in a large organization or small company? Is working with other people more appealing than working alone? Do you like your responsibilities to be well defined or do you prefer some room for creativity? These are just a few examples of how to define your work values.
Think about work experience and any outside activities that you especially enjoyed and see if you can identify some common trends. Even the most unpleasant work experiences can provide insight into what drives your need to work and your personal satisfiers.
What you enjoy spending time doing can offer clues to solving the puzzle to your career. Some people are able to develop their careers based strictly on special interests.
- What were some of the topics and subjects you most enjoyed studying in high school or college?
- Think of a hobby or activity that you enjoy so much that time seems to fly by when you’re engaged in it.
- When you catch the news or read a newspaper/magazine, what issues grab your attention?
- If money were no object, what would you spend more or most of your time on?
Think of personal interests as another way to identify your values, skills and abilities. For instance, if you enjoy writing stories, this may reflect a talent for communication, creativity and a fascination with the motivations behind human behavior. There are many careers that would support this combination of interests, values and skills, such as journalism, social media and marketing.
A systematic assessment of your skills often reveals your strengths and how you might use these in a work setting. Functional skills reflect the ability to work with people, data and information or objects. You can further break down your skills by looking at your natural talents as well as your intellectual, creative, leadership and problem-solving abilities.
If you have a tough time assessing your values, interests and skills and how these translate into a career, a helpful resource is ONET (http://www.onetonline.org ). In addition, many local college career offices provide links to online resources that include career tests and general occupational information. Arcadia University’s Career Office provides some excellent career resources: (http://www.arcadia.edu/student/).
A career transition requires patience, optimism, resilience and persistence. At certain points you may feel discouraged. However, if you have a good understanding of who you are and where you have been, and are willing to persevere through the maze of career information, you are bound to discover some new and interesting career paths.