As a kid, your dream job probably ranged from being an astronaut or detective (thanks Inspector Gadget) to flying the skies as a pilot. But as you get older, your career pathway starts to get a little more realistic and complicated to a point that you’re unsure what you want to do.
If you’re stuck at a dead-end with no idea what you want to accomplish, this guide will help you sort through the clutter and focus on realistic goals to find a career pathway that you’ll love.
#1. “What are my interests?”
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Maybe you’re a techy kind of person and spend hours tinkering with the latest gadgets or diving into programming code. Or perhaps you like working with your hands and find joy in hobbies like cooking and gardening. Either way, finding out your interests is a great place to start.
Consider asking yourself not just what you enjoy doing but also why. This can give you a quick insight into what you want to incorporate into your future career. If being creative is where your interests lie, look into fields that aren’t tedious and ones where you’ll have to think outside the box.
In a nutshell, hobbies and recreational activities are good clues to point you in the right direction in your job search.
#2. “What am I good at?”
Do you consider yourself a math whiz? Perhaps you work well under pressure and are excellent at mitigating problems and delegating tasks. Whatever it is, identifying your key strengths can help you match your potential at different job positions, one of which could be your dream job.
For this, ask yourself what strengths do you exercise during situations where you excel and feel most energised? You may not be able to see your capabilities as well as others, so if you’re unsure, reach out to your friends, groupmates and even lecturers to get feedback.
To boot, there are a plethora of assessments and aptitude tests that can help you discover your strengths. These detailed assessments will have you realise your unique potential and create a life that feels energised and authentic.
#3. “What’s my personality like?”
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you like to work with people or are you a lone ranger? Your personality plays a big role in your job performance and motivation. And not every personality is suited for all job positions, so it’s important that you take in account your personality traits and how you can contribute to your career success.
A good place to start would be to take different personality tests that can help you identify your best traits. Doing a personality test that gives a list of ideal career paths will be an added bonus to help you streamline your options. While the suggested jobs may not all be the ones you’re interested in, it can help you narrow down the route you can take.
#4. “What’s my ideal working environment?”
You could be working your dream job but if you have a terrible working environment, this can affect your performance and ultimately make you hate your job. Therefore, it’s important that you research a company’s working culture to figure out if it’s the best fit for you.
Do you prefer working for a large company or a small start-up? Is work-life balance an important factor? Big companies tend to have a formal approach to their culture as opposed to start-ups which have a more flexible working environment. However, each organisation comes with its own set of pros and cons, so do your research as to which type of working style you prefer.
Thinking about how you excel in a studying environment or group projects does the trick. If you’re much more comfortable with an organised and structured environment, then large companies may be your best choice. If having a laid back but fast-paced working condition motivates you better, then a start-up or doing freelancing gigs may be better for you.
#5. “What are my goals and values?”
If your interests match the field you’re studying, then chances are you’ll be in the line of career that you like. But in reality, interests can change over time and passion can be discovered or lost. Clarifying your long term goals can help you shape the dream career you want and maintain your interest and passion in the long run too.
Consider listing out what’s important to you. Whether it’s recognition, having a creative outlet, being financially stable or having a good work-life balance, your values and goals are what motivate you to do your best job. Who knows, you might be happier giving up certain job perks in order to have a career that matches your lifestyle.
Of course, career goals don’t have to be limited to just one final end result. It’s perfectly acceptable to have multiple long-term career goals. The important thing is to have a reasonable, actionable plan of attack that will help you achieve those goals. Remember that a “dream” job doesn’t necessarily mean the “best” job, but rather, a job that allows for your dream lifestyle.
Bonus: “If I could do anything, what would it be?”
Imagine if you have all the resources to do or work as anything, what would it be? How would you spend your money? Where would you go?
Asking yourself these questions will help you think outside of the box and what you’re capable of doing if your life had no limits. The only thing that’s stopping you from being idealistic are the limiting beliefs to what you can do with your life. You might think that you’re incapable or lacking the experience and skills to explore opportunities but in reality, most of these beliefs are simply untrue. These are things you’ve picked up over the years and made it your core beliefs.
Consider listing out jobs that are out of your comfort zone and explore areas you’ve never considered. There might just be skills in areas you already have that need a little honing! Who knows, your dream job may lie in between those possibilities.
Once you’ve answered all these questions, you’ll have a good idea of what you love doing, what matters most to you and what types of jobs and scenarios you want to avoid. From there, you can begin considering possible careers and start taking steps in the right direction!