Monday, May 11, 2009

How to find the right Career for you

There are a lot of how to guides for finding the right career for you. Many people have written long books explaining detailed processes for narrowing it down and figuring it all out. Usually this involves some kind of paper and pen list. You write down everything you like in the world, and as you do it you slowly get a better idea for what you like more than than other things. Then eventually your favorite activity is suppose to bubble up to the surface of your brain and you're happy and know exactly what you want.

In my experience, this has never worked. I have a lot of interests and they are often changing or are unrelated to each other. Also, part of what would make a great job for me would be that it changes frequently since I get bored with doing the same thing and often go through periods where I feel more or less inclined to work independently.

Another large factor in determining what I want to do is the pay. No, life is not all about money. I do have financial goals as well as bills to pay though, so as much as I'd like to pretend I don't need to think about money at all, that would be a lie.

So taking all of this into account, I present you with a new strategy. It's as simple as possible and involves no pencil and paper. Here goes...

Envision all of your hobbies that you are an active participant in doing the work beyond just being a member. For example, if you write on a forum all day, this does not count. If you have signed up to be an administer for that forum, then that would count. If you just attend meetings, that does not count. If you are on an executive committee or are helping out on projects, that counts.

Now that you know what you care enough about to actually put extra work into, merge those activities with your current job. Think about what position would use all of those skills or would combine those interests. It doesn't have to be exact, but should be related.

In order to offer more clarity, I will use myself as a demonstration.

Right now I volunteer as a coach for a basketball team, I am the Treasurer of the Toastmasters club that I belong to, I am a Lector at my church and I organize my own group for the MS walk. Since I play active roles in coaching, Toastmasters and the MS walk but am just a participant as a Lector, I will remove that from consideration. My day job is doing software development work.

So taking all this together, I should do a job involving coaching/teaching how to use or develop software and includes gathering and coordinating a group of people for a good cause.

Now, that's not a final result but without needing paper and a pen, I have a solid idea that I can use as a starting point and continue to refine. With the right direction in mind, I can either work to shape my current job into something that fits that, or try to jump to another position that is inline with my idea.

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