You’ve had another rough day at work.
And as you’re talking about your lackluster job or about feeling lost in your career path, a well-meaning friend or relative responds with, “Well, what do you want to do?”
Silence. If only it were that easy, right?
Choosing a new career—whether you want to do a drastic 180 or just make a minor shift—can seem downright impossible. There are so many options. You don’t know what you’re qualified to do. Frankly, you’ve been so busy worrying about your current job that you haven’t taken half an hour to consider what you’d rather be doing. And when you do start to think about it? Your mind morphs into a cloudy mess of overwhelm.
Believe me: I’ve been there, too. And after I did find what I was looking for, I’ve spent time coaching friends and colleagues who are going through the same thing. While there aren’t any shortcuts when it comes to planning a big career change, I’ve found that breaking the big question down into a few simpler ones can be a productive way to get started.
Sometime this week, take the first step toward planning your dream career by filling in the blanks in the sentences below:
If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do ____________. It’s interesting to me because ____________.
If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try ____________, because ____________.
If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in ____________, because ____________.
My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at ____________, because ____________.
The thing I love most about my current job is ____________, because ____________.
If my boss would let me, I’d do more of ____________, because ____________.
If I had a free Saturday that had to be spent “working” on something, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.
When I retire, I want to be known for ____________, because ____________.
Once you’re done, take a look at your answers. You may find clear-cut patterns—for example, that everything on your list has to do with designing beautiful spaces or playing sports. But at the very least, you’ll probably see some common themes. Maybe it’s creativity, or caring for others, or working outside using your hands. And no, those things don’t point to one single career path, but knowing what you value, what you enjoy, and what you want to be known for is a great way to get started honing in on what you want to do next (or, hey, eliminating possibilities).