If you are like most people, you are fairly content in your career. You’re probably also really good at what you do. After all, you’ve probably been doing it for a long time! But have you ever asked yourself if what you’re doing in your job is really what you want to be doing? Maybe you are even asking yourself what you want to do when you “grow up”! Well, the good news is that you aren’t alone. And the better news is that you can find that dream career with self-reflection, determination and a detailed plan. In this blog, which is Part 1 of 2, we’ll show you how to take strategic steps to start finding career fulfillment – so you can do what you are meant to do. (If you want to skip ahead to Part 2, you can find that here)!
Is Career Exploration Right for You?
Everyone has their own career journey, and are at different points along that path. Some people have found the sweet spot and are perfectly happy with what they do. However, numerous studies over recent years have put that number at only slightly more than half of the workforce. If you are in that category, that’s awesome. But since you are reading this blog post chances are you are thinking about a change. For some, they simply need a small shift or pivot in what they do or where they work. If you’re at the point of pivot you will probably like this post we wrote on 6 steps for making a career pivot. Others are looking for a career change, which typically means moving into a different industry as well as using a different set of skills. If this is you – we also have a great blog post on how to make a career change. Still others want more out of life and their careers and feel that they are being pulled in a completely different direction. They may not know where and how to get there but they know that there is something more and better out there for them. If that’s you then consider yourself a Career Explorer!
Yes! You Do Have What it Takes to Explore New Career Paths
Explorers are brave souls. It takes courage to look in the mirror and realize that what you are doing just isn’t working out. Like many of us you may have jumped into a career just out of school and stayed with it because it was the easy thing to do. Or maybe you found yourself in a career that made sense at the time but something changed. We want different things as we get older and our priorities are different. Maybe now, helping people and contributing to society means a lot, whereas making money and climbing the corporate ladder was what mattered in the past. Yes, it takes courage to make a big change and open your mind to possibilities. But Career Explorers know that it’s even scarier to get stuck in a rut and just go through the motions. You deserve better, and you deserve to be doing work that brings fulfillment and speaks to your true nature!
Start the Career Exploration Process by Self-Reflection
So, how do you get to career nirvana? The best starting point is self-reflection. The best way to do this in a scientific way, is by taking a series of career assessments. Maybe you’ve taken an assessment before. The typical process is to answer a number of questions and, based on your responses, receive some ideas for careers that may be a good fit for you. Career assessments such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Clifton StrengthsFinder, SkillScan, and others, are valuable in terms of better understanding you and your drivers for being fulfilled. Assessments are INCREDIBLY valuable in the exploration process. Because of the deep personal insights they reveal, we always recommend this as a starting point for career exploration. You can learn more about how the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment works here. If you are more interested in learning about the MBTI assessment and how it can help with career promotion, check out this blog post.
These assessments can provide a tremendous insight into which career options might be a good fit for you. They can also provide insight into what values are important to you, both in terms of career and also in your personal life. Looking at your own interests is also key, as is taking into account your personality and your preferred lifestyle as well. This holistic approach recognizes that career satisfaction does not exist in a vacuum. It’s part of your life and should complement those things that are important to you. Here at Noelle Gross Career Strategy (NGCS) we believe that a career should serve your life, not the other way around. For many of us, our career is our identity but we encourage you to look at the big picture and to see how career choice fits into your whole life picture. After all, it’s life satisfaction that is the end goal!
Build Upon Your Assessment Insights by Evaluating Your Past Decisions, Fears, Roadblocks and Insecurities
Beyond these assessments I mentioned, another key part of being a career explorer is understanding what got you into your current situation. This is the part for many people where real courage is needed. Looking into a mirror and seeing what has been holding you back from real career satisfaction takes effort and understanding. Maybe you don’t think you are good enough to land that big job, or maybe you are afraid of failing or sounding stupid by telling people what you really want to do for a living. It’s OK, and we’ve all gone down that road before. This is where working with a career coach can really pay dividends. We’ll talk more about this in Part 2 but the idea is to get through these issues – face the fear, or lack of motivation, or procrastination or whatever else has held you back. That way you can be open to career possibilities and have the courage to take the steps you need to find that dream job.
How to Dive Deeper Into the Insights to Uncover Your True Fulfillment Opportunities
Let’s take a deeper look at what you get from this self-assessment process. Personality assessments are one type of popular assessment, where your personality type can be matched with possible careers. This is important information to obtain when exploring potential future career options, but keep in mind that it’s only part of the picture. It’s important to go beyond the assessments to look at the big picture and understanding what makes our clients tick and what they need in life. That’s especially true for our intrepid career explorers!
A seasoned Career Exploration Coach, will want to delve deeper into your strengths, your interests, your personal traits and your values. Is workplace environment something you value more than salary? Is recognition important to you or is intellectual challenge something that you can’t do without? In order to have a true career discovery breakthrough, it’s recommended to be clear as to what really matters to you, so you can align those values with your choice of career.
Analyzing Your Skills Can Help Create Deeper Insights About Where You Fit
Of course doing an assessment of your skill set is another part of the puzzle. We all have developed a variety of skills, and most of us have more transferable skills than we realize. Those are the skills that you can carry into a new job or career so Career Explorers really need to take stock of what they are capable of. As an example, here’s a sample list of 22 transferable skills people tend to gain from volunteering.
But it’s not only looking back at what you’ve done. We want to also assess which skills you want to bring forward into your next role, since you may not want to use the same skill set you employed in the past. The bottom line is that we want you to find that sweet spot and that perfect career that matches your personality, uses your interests, incorporates your values and utilizes your skills as much as possible. It can be done, and it’s actually crucial that you think in those terms in order to find career fulfillment.
Is Clarity Necessary for Finding a Fulfilling Job or Career Path?
Sure, you can probably find a job without doing a deep dive into who you really are and what you need to be happy, but you don’t want to repeat the mistakes that many people make. As a Career Clarity Coach, I’ve seen too many people change positions frequently in search of the “perfect job.” Likewise I also see too many people who end up staying in a job for too long without knowing how to get out. It takes some time and effort, but knowing what you really need in terms of career satisfaction can get you on the path to finding work that feeds your soul and calls to you. Imagine yourself in a job that gives you such peace of mind that you wouldn’t even think of making a change. That is the goal!
Beware of Common Career Exploration Challenges
Yes, it’s a lot of work and it’s not easy to look in the mirror and see what you really need in a career to be happy. However, for those who do the work, they say it’s time well spent. Of course there will be challenges along the way, and you will probably encounter roadblocks, such as lack of motivation, fear of change and self-doubt but these can all be dealt with. In Part 2 of this series I’ll explore the common roadblocks. I will also present some simple strategies for moving forward in your career exploration journey once you learn how to deal with these blocks. Be brave, Explorer! You are already on your way to finding what you are meant to do for a living!