5 Steps to Help You Identify Your Dream Career

The other day a friend asked me how I figured out what I wanted to do in my dream career.

I thought to myself, “It’s amazing what rock-bottom will do to you! I had no choice but to sink or swim.”

You don’t always have to hit rock bottom to figure out your career path, but there are some things you need to learn about yourself if you want to find a job you love.

The answers to these five questions might come immediately, or they might take years to uncover. Either way, consider these questions without judgment or blame for not knowing the answers, but with curiosity. In time, the answers will unfold if you’re living the questions.

1. What Are Your Strengths?

Stop everything you’re doing and take the Strengths Finder assessment today. It’s the most valuable assessment tool I’ve used. Know your strengths to the finest degree to discern what job is best for you.

For example, my top five strengths are:

  • Input (I have a craving to know more)
  • Strategic (I create alternative ways to proceed
  • Woo (I’m good at making connections with people)
  • Learner (I have a desire to learn and to continuously improve)
  • Self-Assurance (I possess an inner compass that gives me confidence in my decisions).

Considering all of my strengths, I’m most happy in a position where I have the opportunity to learn, to be strategic, to connect with people, and to make decisions. Take your assessment today to come up with a cohesive understanding of what your strengths are.

According to Donald Clifton, founder of Strengths Finder, we’re the happiest when we get to use our strengths on a daily basis.

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2. Who Are Your Allies?

Sure, you might not have enemies in your job search but it’s important to know who’s in your inner support circle. Sometimes, it can take awhile to identify who is your ally, but pay attention to who gives you strength and who squashes your ambition.

Notice all of your conversations. Who is continually supportive? Who encourages you? Who makes you feel afraid or anxious?

Many people feel scared when you are reaching and leaping towards an edge, and they will project their own fears onto you. Don’t let them. Make a point to cut them off (kindly) or resist from talking to that person about your “big, hairy, audacious goals.

3. What Are Your Goals?

Where do you want to go? It’s a big question and if you don’t have the answer now, ask yourself every day until it starts to unfold.

Four years ago when I made a big transition, my goals were all over the place. I wanted to travel, write, teach yoga, work in the wine industry, help people, get my master’s degree, and connect with good folks. I couldn’t find my footing so I took out a big huge notebook (the kind you’d buy a kindergartener) and colored sharpies. I drew bubbles, keywords, maps, and I let my creativity flow.

In the end, my goals slowly emerged. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work, but I knew I wanted to use my strengths to help others and to keep focused on a career that supported quality of life.

4. What Do You Know About Yourself to Be True?

It’s time to get real. Look at your past to understand where you want to be in the future. What was it about your first job that made your stomach turn? Why have you always been unhappy in your work place? Is it really your boss, is it the industry or is it your attitude?

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What can you do differently to change the outcome in a new work environment? All transformation starts with awareness and acceptance. Eventually over time, and with practice, you can change the things you don’t like about your job, your career, and yourself.

5. Where’s Your Flow?

 “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” ~ Viktor Frankl

Have you ever been so immersed in a task that you lost track of time? Most of the time this happens when we’re in what psychologists call a state of flow.

According to thepursuitofhappiness.org,

“This loss of self-consciousness that happens when you are completely absorbed in an activity – intellectual, social, or physical – is described in contemporary psychology as a state of Flow. In order for a Flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success. You must feel as though you have control and receive immediate feedback with room for growth. Interestingly, a Flow state is characterized by the absence of emotion – a complete loss of self-consciousness –however, in retrospect, the Flow activity may be described as enjoyable and even exhilarating!”

If you can achieve flow at work, you’re likely using your strengths and feeling happier as a result.

I truly believe finding work we love, is work itself. So do the work to find the work and it will pay off for years to come.