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  • Writer's pictureTajda

4 Steps To Figure Out Which Career Is Perfect For You and What You Really Want To Do

Young woman looking at a laptop and coaching clients online
Photo by Amadeja Cus:

If you're reading this article it means that you haven't found your perfect career just yet and that's completely ok. In fact, on average people change careers 5-7 times during their working life (Source), so know that your experience (and the doubt, confusion, excitement, fear, etc. that come with it) is very normal.

I define a perfect/dream career as:

  • doing the work you love and you're amazing at

  • having the impact, income, and freedom you want

  • feeling fulfilled and on purpose

  • in any shape or form (working for a company full-time, having your own (side) business, or creating a hybrid model that fits your wants and needs (part-time employment + part-time self-employment)). You get to define what that looks like for you.

A caveat: a perfect career doesn't mean that you'll only do tasks you're passionate about and won't have any challenges! But since you'll be doing what you love the majority of the time and making a positive impact in the world, those tasks won't drain you or bother you as much because they'll be in service of the work you're doing.

When we're making big decisions, such as finding the perfect career, I've found the inside-out approach to be most productive and efficient. If we only focus on the outer/strategic work (doing research, networking, looking for jobs on job boards) we're just responding to what's out there, often feeling overwhelmed and confused by the amount of information, not in tune with our inner compass and not clear on what exactly we're looking for.

It serves us to know what matters to us, what we want, and what we bring to the table. It helps us narrow down the search and immediately spot the perfect opportunities.

Here are 4 steps to finding your dream career and figuring out what you really want to do.👇

1. Self-Awareness: Get clear on your talents, skills, interests, and experiences

Finding the perfect career is like putting puzzle pieces together - every skill, talent, interest, etc. is a puzzle piece and we're only able to see a clear picture once we put them all together.

This is a process of self-discovery, where we gather information about ourselves: what we're good at, what comes easy to us, what we love, what our past experiences have taught us about ourselves, what kind of work/tasks/projects we enjoy... It often helps us remember our passions/interests that we may have forgotten!

Natural gifts and talents: abilities you were born with, things that come easy to you, things you're good at without trying too much. Examples: being fully present with people, singing, dancing, particular sports, drawing, languages, maths, curiosity, leadership, writing...

Skills: abilities you've acquired and mastered through learning and practice. They may come easy to you, but they may also be things you've learned and got good at. Examples: programming, graphic design, public speaking, safe and conscious communication, organization, email marketing, delegating, setting up systems, yoga, coaching...

Interests: topics and areas you're passionate about, love to read about, or watch YouTube videos about. Examples: history, make-up, politics, personal & spiritual growth, finances, cooking....

Your past experiences: insights from all your work experiences (including small jobs, like working at a call center or a restaurant, all the way to your last job or project) help you find out what tasks/projects/aspects of work you enjoy and appreciate most. In particular, we're interested in what was fun, and easy, where you were able to shine, and what took a lot of your effort & energy and didn't feel as rewarding.

The tools I recommend for this self-discovery process are:

👉  Personality assessments

  • The Enneagram personality test (helps you discover the gifts and opportunities of your personality type)

  • Human Design Chart (gives you insight into your psychology, as well as strategies and techniques that help you make the right decisions and feel fulfilled)

👉  360° feedback:

  • this tool is often used in leadership and team coaching

  • the intention is to understand how others perceive you, what potential they see in you, and what they think you'd be great at. It often helps us uncover gifts, talents, skills, and values we weren't aware of.

👉  Journaling prompts and questions

At this stage of the process, you don't have to decide on a career yet - we're just gathering information and staying curious. But if you do get an idea or a nudge based on the information you discover, follow that and start making a list of possible career paths and opportunities.

2. The Ideal Work Environment: What matters to you and how would you like to feel in your dream career?

This aspect is often overseen in career coaching, but it's vital to take our time with it, especially if we want to have a fulfilling and satisfying career in the long run. Here's why, illustrated by a client story.

A client of mine wanted to work at a specific company. She had applied three times and didn't get in, but was convinced that this was her dream company & her dream job.

Flash forward a few months - on her fourth try, she got the job. But (yes, there's a but, lol 🙈 ) once she was there, it was the opposite of what she had expected: the relationships between the team members were sour, the leadership was indifferent to the requests from the team, her tasks were different from what she originally discussed with the HR manager and there was little support or understanding for the fact that she had a small child, who would often get sick.

She had focused so much on getting into this particular company that she wasn't paying attention to what really mattered to her when it came to her work environment and she oversaw a few major red flags.

What really mattered to her was:

  • having flexibility with her schedule

  • a supportive team that values honesty and conscious communication

  • fun environment, like-minded colleagues, room for individuality

  • feeling seen and valued

  • feeling inspired and excited to go to work

  • ...

You may value:

  • having permission to fail and make mistakes

  • having permission to be yourself, no dress code

  • delivering a high standard of work while having fun with your colleagues

  • ownership over your own projects

  • having room to bring in new ideas, perspectives, changes

  • that good performance is seen and rewarded (bonuses, etc.)

  • having a budget for personal growth...

What matters will be different for each individual, but we're trying to understand our values, wants, and needs AND what kind of environment we thrive in and would be excited to work in. Once we have that information it's so much easier to find companies that can match that (and YES, companies like that exist!).

Again, the shape of your career (aka, being employed, self-employed, having a hybrid situation) matters less than you may think. What matters is how YOU FEEL when you're working and that both you and your company value the same things and can mutually fulfill your needs and wants (at the very minimum, the non-negotiable ones).

You could be working at Google, Apple, Netflix, or the best company on the planet, getting a big paycheck (even as big as $450k a year!), but if your values, wants and needs aren't met and you can't do the work you're amazing at + that you love, it won't bring you the fulfillment and joy that you're looking for.

Values: these are qualities that matter to you most. They're also a great decision-making tool: knowing your values helps you and the company/partner quickly see whether you value the same things and are moving in the same direction.

Values discovery: this is especially important when you get to the stage of researching companies or partners you want to work for/with: one of the first filters should be your values. You want to choose a company whose values align with yours, otherwise, you're immediately going to be in misalignment, feeling off, frustrated and unhappy. For example, if you value growth and thrive on overcoming challenges, then working for a hierarchical company that doesn't have a training budget for their employees, has a slower pace and long decision paths won't match what you want. You're always free to say yes to any opportunity and give yourself the experience, but watch and observe what happens.

3. Doing research and testing out your dream career in the outside world

Ultimately, we won't know whether a career, a job, a business, or a profession is right for us unless we try it out. I have Masters in Journalism and I really thought that being a journalist/reporter is what I would enjoy. But when I was working for a news station and got a behind-the-scenes look into the industry I quickly realized that it wasn't what I want to be doing. I loved researching, writing, and telling stories, but not in the way most news stations operate. And that's something I could only find out after I tested it out in practice.

That doesn't mean you have to quit your job and try out every career under the sun to find work that you love, but it's an invitation to start researching the options that sound inviting to you.

Once you have a list of talents, skills, values, and a sense of the environment you want to work in, you can start exploring which companies/positions/business ideas match what you're looking for & what you bring to the table. This will help you do research in a more targeted way.

Since research can often feel overwhelming, I recommend you start with the low-hanging fruit:

  • Are there any other interesting positions/roles in your current company besides the one you have now? Is there a way to redesign your role so that it fits you more and reflects your growth and values? Is there a trial project you could take on?

  • Are there people in your current network that do the kind of work you would like to do? If yes, who are they working for? Are they working as a freelancer or are they employed? What do their daily tasks look like? Invite them for a 30-minute coffee chat and start getting into a conversation with them.

  • Are there companies/creators that resonate with you because of their company culture, impact, mission, and vision? Check the "careers" section on their website or LinkedIn and see what positions they are hiring for. Go through the descriptions and see if anything sparks your interest. If you notice that they're missing something you could add to the company, send them a general application. Connect with people who work there and ask if they could give you some insight into what it's like to work for the company and how to create a strong application.

  • Who do you admire? This could be someone in the public eye or someone you know personally. What are they doing professionally? Who are they connected to? What do those people do? Can you get into a conversation with them or someone who works with them/for them?

Again, finding a perfect career is a process and we can make it easier by getting into conversations with people now. You'll be surprised how many of them will be open to chatting with you (if you approach them in the right way) and it may be one of the easiest ways to get your foot in the door.

These conversations will give you new information, new ideas, and perspectives you may not have thought about. You may find out that there's a role you'd be perfect for that you weren't aware of or didn't have the vocabulary for.

A few grounded ways to test this out are volunteering, shadowing, collaborating with like-minded individuals, or if you have a business idea, working on your business, sales, and marketing 8h / week...

4. Listen to your body

Throughout this whole process, listen to your body. Your body is the unconscious and even if your mind isn't sure about a certain path or an opportunity, your body will let you know.

If it feels heavy, uninviting, or restrictive, if you've been thinking about it forever and you're still not sure, it's safe to say that it's not a 100% yes for you.

If on the other hand, it feels exciting, inviting, expansive, there's a delicate pull in that direction, if it makes you curious, follow that.

The more you're in conversations, the more you'll be able to tell the difference because you'll have more experiences to compare.

If you'd like to shortcut the curve, land your dream job, or start your business sooner rather than later, getting support from a professional coach is a great idea, especially when it comes to big transitions. It helps you stay accountable, offers you new perspectives and options you may have not thought of before, and most importantly, you don't have to figure it out all on your own. If you're interested in what working together could look like, you can book a complimentary clarity session here.

Let me know in the comments which stage you're currently at. If you've done the self-discovery work, what did you find out about yourself and what you love doing? 👇

With all my love & gratitude

Tajda 🌷 


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