Growing up, we have all been asked the astronomically hard question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Not only is it difficult to answer this question as a young professional, but most adults don’t even have an answer! With that being said, it is perfectly normal to house uncertainties of where you want your career path to end up or even where you should start. When you feel that existential dread creeping in, try implementing these four steps to determine the direction you should take.
Step One: Breathe
First of all, slow down and take a moment to breathe. You don’t need to answer this life-defining question right now. Keep in mind, your life may look completely different five years down the road. Everyone’s path is different. Some people are born knowing their career destiny, while others spend their whole life on a journey to find it. It’s called a ‘career path’ for a reason. Paths are not linear, and they aren’t supposed to be. Life is full of unexpected changes that you cannot anticipate, and you can change your career in as little as 5 seconds!
Step Two: Answer The Important Questions
What Are You Passionate About?
Discovering your passion is obvious for some and murky for others. If this question is too broad, ask yourself – what do you spend your free time doing? For example, spending time outside, playing in the stock market, completing DIY projects, or a wide variety of other passions. If these activities bring you joy, try to find a career field that incorporates them. As a result, you will do your job much better if you care about it. A study from the University of Southern California found that loving what you do boosts productivity and enhances performance.
What Does Your Dream Job Look Like?
Then, try to envision your absolute dream job. Are you out in the field all day? Would you like to spend all day interacting with clients? How do you feel about working remotely? Are you tapping into your creative side or spending the day crunching numbers? Even if your dream job may seem out of reach now, answering these questions will point you in the right direction.
Step Three: Conduct Important Research
Now, it’s time to get to work and start doing some research. What type of job will put you on the path towards your ideal lifestyle while simultaneously incorporating your passions and values? Spend some time looking into the entry-level jobs that can lead to your dream job in the future. Next, search for people on LinkedIn who have those jobs right now. Send a connection request and let them know you’re interested in learning more about their career path. Not only will this give you some great insight, but it may also help you get your foot in the door.
Step Four: Develop Necessary Skills
Start building skills that apply to your passions. Through your research and conversations, you’ll pick up on skills that will be beneficial in your ideal career path. Start by taking online courses, or even just reading articles related to your desired industry.
Overall, discovering your passion and finding your career path can be challenging. However, if you look closely, it might be right in front of you. Analyze what you spend your free time doing and follow that fire. This will lead you to a happier, more successful career, and in that same realm, a better employee. Everybody wins!