How do I know what I want to do in my career?

"What do I want to do?" is a tricky question.

Sometimes we have an answer, sometimes we don’t. Don't worry - we won’t tell you to follow your “passion”. Most people have no idea what their passion is. Instead, thinking about your values and your long-term goals can help you make progress toward clarity. Start by thinking about what motivates you, gives you a connection to society or community, or makes you feel valued.

Reflect on what you value most (i.e., which activities or experiences do you enjoy most in your personal or professional life):

  • Where do you gain the most satisfaction?

  • What are you passionate about and what do you find meaningful?

  • What are you good at and what are your strengths?

  • What are your financial needs and what do you need to meet them?

Also, reflect on work:

  • What does work mean to you?

  • What makes work valuable?

  • What does life mean to you?

  • How do the two interrelate?

Consider how you can balance what you do in your life with your work. For example, If you are passionate about art can you be fulfilled with museum memberships and art clubs while feeling valued in a completely unrelated career?

Setting Long Term Goals: 

Sometimes, it can help to think about where you would like to be in 5 to 10 years and work backward from there to identify what action you need to take to get you there. If 5 years feels too far, start with 1 year.

Activity: Think outside the box to figure out what would make you happy. For this activity, you will think through multiple scenarios that might make you happy down the road. While you likely can't live all scenarios, this activity will help you see that you might be happy with multiple outcomes. This takes quite a bit of pressure off of the decision making process.

Spend up to 15 mins on each scenario. Out of your 3 scenarios, 1 can be a unicorn scenario. 

  • Map out 3 different scenarios for where you will be in 5 years time (If you feel 5 years is too far away, you can shorten this to 3 years)

  • What needs to happen by 6-months, 1 year, 2 years and 3 years for you to get there.

  • For each scenario do a quick SWOT analysis. What are the main strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for each path?

Feel free to let your mind run a little wild, and use whatever format feels comfortable whether its mind mapping, listing out ideas, or drawing. This exercise does not have to be very structured. The intention is to help you get in the mindset of thinking about what needs to happen for you to get to your goal, and to be strategic about what you get up too next.

Pro-tip: time box this. Give yourself 15 minutes to write goals, 15 minutes to brainstorm paths to get there and 15 minutes to do a SWOT analysis. Find uninterrupted time and whether you are writing the whole time or not spend 15 minutes just thinking about long-term goals. Whatever the result is after that 45 minutes you are done and consider it successful. You can revisit this a few times if you want more clarity, but think today I am spending 45 minutes brainstorming goals and that’s success for today.