It can be very difficult to find your best career/job – here are 21 questions I’ve put together as a warm up. They’re positive and imaginative to do. Why not take some time, get comfy and answer them, see what emerges?
Disclaimer: Right up front, let me say I don’t have professional training in careers, these are just some simple queries to get you started thinking broadly. There are excellent professional books and advisors out there, do invest in them.
All you need for these questions is space to think and answer, and some way of writing down your answers as you go. Please don’t read all the questions before starting them – just start with number one and complete each one before reading the next. I’ve deliberately left spacing between each question, so everything isn’t crammed together. Don’t rush it, they involve imagining and this can be fun to do. At the end of the questions, there isn’t a magical sentence of exactly what career you should follow, but the process should give you clues to check out.
“Know thyself” is very wise advice, but sometimes not easy to do. Fortunately, our lives have traces in them of our passions and interests, and that’s where we can start. Here beginneth the questions:
1. Think through the friends you’ve known in your life – who were most interesting to you? why? (remember to take your time and write answers down before moving on to next question)
2. If you were to appear on a TV quiz show, what subjects would you hope for questions on?
3. Go to your internet device and look up the browser and what you’ve bookmarked – which subjects have you bookmarked heavily?
4. Of all the ways you’ve helped people, which ways have people repeatedly said were most helpful? How are you repeatedly asked to contribute, by other people?
5. Go to your bookshelves/media stores – if you could only take 10 influential books or movies with you on your next house move, which would they be? (this list can include other books/movies which have influenced you, but which you don’t currently have)
7. When you walk into a bookshop or look at a collection of videos, which subject area do you go to, first? fiction? non-fiction? biography? science? art? general knowledge? maps?…..
8. Apart from sight, which sense is most important/enjoyable to you? touch? taste? hearing?
9. Which magazines do you tend to buy? (even if you only buy them occasionally)
10. If you were given unlimited funds and couldn’t fail, what 4 projects would you want to do.
11. You have been asked to represent your country in a speak-as-long-as-you-can contest, starting now. What is your chosen topic?
(apart from family members and friends)
12. Looking back over your life, what do you regard as your biggest achievements, so far?
13. In your biggest achievements, what did you overcome? (Could you help others do the same?)
14. You have a free day off work, all expenses paid, unlimited budget, what would you do?
15. You have a free day off work, with just the money in your purse, what would you do?
16. Who are your heroes? (people you’ve read about and watch TV programmes on, when you get the chance)
17. Do any of your friends have a job you’d like? could you do it?
18. Imagine yourself at your own, happy retirement. Who are your colleagues in the room and what are they saying about you?
19. Do you feel a calling to do something – no matter how nonsensical it may seem to your current life – what is it?
Look back over what you have written, are there answers you felt most passionately about? You should spot themes recurring. Note which is strongest and which repeats most often. Some of the themes will have to do with convictions and values, such as environmental, social, faith, political – but these may well have a bearing on what areas you have the vision to work in. You now turn detective to look at the clues in your answers – what life work can you find them combined in? Or are there several separate career calls indicated?
20. Try on the hat. Looking at what your answers highlight is your strongest theme/area of interest, Imagine yourself working in that area. What are you doing?
Because life isn’t simple, you may feel “I can’t pick between two or three areas”. You could try on the hat for each of them, separately – which fits best? or can they be combined in one job?
Checkup – because life work is more than a quick project, you need a longer perspective than a snapshot. Ask a trusted friend who has known you more than 10 years – “What am I best at doing?” Listen carefully for clues, bearing in mind that they may skew their answer to what they value themselves – they have their own natural bias.
21. Finally – and I heard of this exercise from someone else but can’t remember who, so can’t credit them – imagine you are in a very large airport waiting room. You have a lot of extra time. Everyone is congregated in groups, talking about different areas they work in. Imagine going to several groups – what are they talking about? Then choose the group you want to be with. What is it about?