Do you know what you really want? Sounds a strange question but many people don’t! You may know slightly more about what you want in life, but even that isn’t always the case…
When you finished your ‘A’ levels (or equivalent), did you do any vocational testing to see what career you were most suited to before you decided whether you wanted to go to University or not, and if so, what type of degree to take?
Having totally refused my school’s very strong desire that I sit the OxBridge exams, I submitted to the vocational testing. Then, being the rebel that I am, I promptly did the opposite of everything suggested – lol. I did actually end up in the ‘right’ bucket according to their suggestions, I just did it my own way… My profile showed communication/people contact, creative industries including growing/developing/nature, travel. They suggested journalism, fast-track foreign office, creative industries. Architecture was a strong one but maths and I are not friends! So a potential journalism degree became work at the International Press Centre, fast-track career at the Foreign Office became jump on a plane and aim for a work permit in USA, Canada or Bermuda, the winner being the one who gave the official stamp first! There, I worked in the creative industry of interior design, renovation of commercial buildings, hotels, holiday villages etc.
My digression into my own career choices is to show you that there are many, many paths you can follow, none of them are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. We have different facets to our character so often we have several fields in which we can feel really engaged and inspired in our careers.
If you don’t feel fully ‘in the flow’ at work doing some exploration into what you really want, finding where your real passions and talents lie, could be beneficial. We spend the majority of our life in the workplace. This means the feelings and attitude we have at work spill over into the rest of our life and affect everything around us – our relationships, health, quality of life… So, much better to make career and passion come together and enjoy what you do during your workday rather than feeling the life slowly drain out of you from abject boredom and lack of motivation.
There are many improvements you can make by self-analysis and self-discovery. Start with these:
- – List all the tasks you do whether it is at work, in associations, organisations, clubs, family ‘chores’, helping others. It could include different tasks in fields such as communication skills – talking and listening, team leader or member, computer skills (and any software you know), administrative skills, time management, project management, problem solving, creativity, organization… Now add all the tasks you did in previous jobs…
– Beside each item write a number 0-10 (10 where you are highly skilled/do it very well) for your skill at doing this task.
– Again write a number 0-10 (10 where you feel happiest/most inspired/motivates) for your feeling doing this task.
- Think about everything you have ever dreamed of doing – yes, even in your wildest dreams – since you were a child. Write all those down and now why you dream of them? What attracts you to these ideas? How do they make you feel? What is the ‘good’ part of them? After writing down what your dreams mean to you, again allocate a 0-10 for intensity of feeling and skill you have in them.
- Create a mindmap** with 11 numbered branches from 0 to 10. (Mindmapping stimulates your brain, it is a thinking space to capture, sort, develop and action your ideas). Put each of your tasks/ideas/dreams as child branches on the corresponding value branch. Sit and look at them. Does anything jump out at you? Often at this stage you can see something you weren’t aware of before, you may already see where your real ‘heart’ is just by looking at the mindmap. Now discard anything that is value 6 or less, except if it is something that you really, strongly feel is linked to a 9 or 10, for example if it is a skill that needs developing to fit with a 10 value idea.
- Look at your mindmap again and select your top 5 ‘inspiration’ choices. Think about how you could incorporate these into your working life. Think out of the box! Passion isn’t rigid, it isn’t linear – it is flow, it moves in, over, around, beside, so allow your thinking to do the same. As a bonus, when thinking about how you can start actively including your ‘inspiration’ choices into your career, it is worth thinking where you could remove or compromise on things you actively don’t like so you can replace them with your ‘inspiration’ choices.
This is a good exercise to repeat whenever you feel at a crossroads in your career, or when you lose interest in what you are doing. Pinpointing your real sources of inspiration and gradually including them in your daily work has untold benefits in all aspects of your life and success.
Here’s to your more energised and inspiring future!
**iMindMap is the best mindmapping software I have found, I strongly recommend you try this one. It isn’t an affiliate link. You can use the free trial for this exercise and explore to see how you could use it further. I am doing an article about the use and advantages of mindmapping next month…
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Anna Letitia Cook is Founder and CEO of WomenUP Ltd and creator of the process SCOPE for career, fulfilment and success. She has a passion for inspiring women to shape their own future, incorporating their own values, beliefs and sense of purpose to achieve their objectives.