What do you want to be when you grow up? This question has been asked of many people. It’s one I’ve thought about many times as a young girl, a woman, and after settling on a career.
It’s a question where I wished, I had a magic crystal ball, tarot cards, or any idea of how to wield information from the universe. Even without psychic abilities, maybe we do have some direction in the form of what we most enjoy doing in this world.
My career ideas weren’t always met with optimism, openness, or acceptance. I’m guessing I’m not the only one this has happened to. Your dreams may have been pushed under the rug too. Seen as only dreams with no real potential for a long-lasting career, whether by someone else or yourself.
Family members, friends, and significant others threw their ideas into my career hat. The people around me were trying to help, but it all got muddled in that indecisive time between high school, college, and starting a career.
I was restless and waiting for a new beginning, like college. I didn’t know what I wanted. Yet there was something. I knew I was connected to writing.
Even with this knowledge, I chose a different career and for the wrong reasons. For money. Because it was a good program within the college, I attended because a family member had suggested it.
Which may be valid reasons for others. Yet, I didn’t understand why I wanted this particular path. There were no likes, dislikes, passions, or ideas behind my decision.
And so, I didn’t thrive in business. It could have been the company I was employed with; it could have been the line of business I occupied. But I believe it was my lack of passion.
I decided to change careers. You’d think I would have changed to one in writing, but fear got the best of me.
The I am not good enough voice came calling. Let’s talk about that voice. Please don’t listen to it. Instead, meet it head-on. Challenge it. Show it what you’re made of. You are so much more than that tiny, little voice; spooking you. You’ve done great things in your life. Go after what you’re passionate about.
You’ll feel so much better that you did. After finally going after writing, I know I do.
Engage in activities you love
Choosing to engage in activities you are passionate about is important for our psychological well-being, which is explained in a study called “The role of passion in sustainable psychological well-being.”
The author of this study, Robert J. Vallerand writes:
“Psychological well-being, broadly defined as happiness, life satisfaction, and self-growth, represents one of the most important aspects of efficient psychological functioning.”
The study explains we only reap the benefits of filling full-filled if our passion is harmonious. Meaning, we make our own decisions on what we enjoy. The activity doesn’t control us. We go to it freely, willingly, because we believe it to be a significant part of our life. Some might refer to it as a calling. We get a sense of fulfillment from participating, a sense of peace—a reason to go back again and again.
I’m no guidance counselor, but if you’re looking for some direction, it all goes back to what you like to do, what we love to do. We should start there. That seems obvious, but it can get lost within you for any number of reasons. Stress, distractions, people’s opinions, lack of self-confidence, an inability to decide, or — my favorite — fear.
When you find that life force you love to do, it’s, like being in the flow, in the zone, and time doesn’t matter. For me, when I’m writing, my mind is present, and nothing else enters. There is no worry to drown in. Or thoughts of obligations. I feel whole and content.
Find your direction
I’ve been down this road before, soul searching and researching what I want to do with my life. It’s important to do your own digging, investigating, listening to your gut, likes, skill set, and dreams.
If you’re having trouble with getting your vibe, searching your soul, and getting to know what you like or love — and in turn coming up with an answer to your career choice — I can suggest a few career resources I’ve used myself.
What Color is Your Parachute — I wrote an article about my experience when I changed careers in 2006. This book is ahuge resource of information that will help anyone determine their career path or change it. It can definitely help you determine your preferred interests. The author also includes a lot of great advice on the current job market, landing a job, interviewing, salary negotiation, starting your own business, and more. It’s sold millions of copies, and it’s continually revised and updated every year.
Strengths Finder 2.0I was given this well-researched gallop questionnaire at a job I held some time ago. If your manager is looking to invest in you, this is a good way to determine your strengths to foster and motivate you.
The Gallop Organization interviewed over two million people in many different careers, positions, and levels to develop thirty-four strength themes. Their focus is on strengthening your strengths. However, they do not correlate or have research that supports a certain field with a certain strength. When researching, they saw many interviewees with like themes who were all doing well in different careers.
The Strengths Finder can help you maximize your strengths in the field you love. Also, knowing my strengths has come in handy at job interviews.
Informational Interview — This is a tip out of the resource I just mentioned, What Color is Your Parachute, and it’s stuck with me. If you’re not sure, ask someone in the field you’re pursuing. Someone who’s been in the trenches and dug themselves out. Someone who knows what it takes to be whatever you want to be: a writer, dentist, video game developer, a zookeeper, your dream job.
Ask them what skill set one needs to possess for the job you desire. What do they like best about their job, or what don’t they enjoy? What’s something they wish they’d known early on, that they know now. Ask whatever burning questions you have.
Try Linkedin to find connections. Or family. Maybe your sister has a friend in the industry. Or, your Uncle knows a guy you can talk to.
Learn as much as you can— This goes hand in hand with informational interviewing. To get even more information, dig deeper. Research your dream. Go to the library, search online. Follow influencers in your desired field. Participate in online groups or in-person groups to strengthen your knowledge and increase skills. Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Perhaps you can find an internship or part-time job to really understand what the job includes and see yourself in action.
Since we spend a big chunk of time at our jobs, my hope is you find something you love to do, just as I did. It will improve your outlook on life. I want you to feel whole and content. The more you know about yourself and your passion, the less fear can stand in your way. The less anything can stand in your way.
Whatever makes you happy, find it in a job, a hobby, a club, philanthropy, or anywhere else.
Because we all need more happiness in our lives and the world.