The idea of doing exactly what we’re meant to do gives us all the warm fuzzies, but it’s rarely an easy journey. Ironically, it takes a lot of work to find out who we are, and then even more work to apply it to a career.
We’re all capable of finding a fulfilling career, but it doesn’t come without a little struggle.
Fulfillment Is A New Reality
None of my grandparents worked in jobs they enjoyed. But for them, it wasn’t about enjoyment. Ask any one of them, and they’ll look at you funny and start talking about how jobs aren’t meant to be fun. That’s why they’re called “jobs.”
However, through generations, we’ve moved from having a job to survive to having a job to live to having a job to fulfill. Call it career evolution.
We’re lucky enough to be in a position where we can take the time to find meaning in our lives, and become world-changers through our jobs, not just through our free time.
But it’s not an easy path.
As we develop from children into adolescents, we’re taught how things should be, how we should act, and what we should and shouldn’t do.
Sometimes, these are rational teachings to help us navigate the world. Sometimes, they’re irrational teachings based on the bias of those around us.
Through our upbringing, education system and a desire to fit in, many of us lose who we are and settle into positions that continue down the security path as opposed to finding our true potential for change.
We have a nagging feeling we’re not living a truly actualized life, but there are so many outside influences telling us we can’t.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. No matter your age or position in life, there are tools out there at your disposal (many of them free) to help you figure out who you are, and what career path is perfect for you.
1. An Open Mind
This is the most vital tool you can have when searching for a career that lines up with who you are.
We tend to have this idea that there are only certain jobs worth doing, throwing out thousands of careers along the way.
If you grew up in a family where you father was an investment banker and your mother worked in executive compensation, becoming a farmer might seem like a step backward.
But what if you really love farming? What if you love the feel of dirt between your hands, of changing the world through growing food, of coming home every day feeling like you accomplished something?
Then, seriously, why the heck not?
Also, never let your mind tell you you’re too old, too entrenched in your current career, too poor, or too tied down. There are so many ways to make dreams happen if you really want them.
You subconscious knows what you want; don’t suffocate it with conscious thoughts about what you should or shouldn’t do.
If you’re going to start anywhere, start with reading.
Books have this wonderful tendency to make our minds work, to take us to new worlds and teach us new skills. Whether fiction, non-fiction or self-help, books teach us about ourselves.
Start by trying to read one book a month, and stick with it. After a while, you might find you’re more drawn to certain books than others.
You might find you love murder-mysteries but aren’t a fan of historical fiction. What does this say about you?
Maybe you’re into solving problems, building scenarios and analyzing information. Write down these discoveries and look for patterns that fit in with careers you’re interested in.
3. The Magazine Section on Amazon or Your Local Bookstore
Did you know there are magazines specifically geared toward the sheep industry?
If you aren’t sure where to start, there are thousands upon thousands of different magazines out there in all different industry areas that might lend a hand (maybe you’ll discover sheep farming is your true calling).
Spend a few hours perusing the magazine section. What stands out to you? What do you see that you immediately want to order? And, if you do order it, what part of the magazine really resonates with you?
Use this information, and make conscious (or handwritten) notes of what gets you really excited, and start looking at career paths in those areas.
If you really want to get to know yourself, maybe you should spend some time together. Meditation will give you a deep dive into the inner workings of your brain, and let your subconscious mind break through the tough shell of your conscious thoughts.
There are plenty of meditation apps out there to get you started, or you can simply take some time every day to write. Each of these activities will teach you about yourself, but you have to be patient and persistent. Getting to know someone takes time, even if it is yourself.
Once you’ve figured out a few career fields you’d like to work in, try out the job without the obligation of being an employee by volunteering. You won’t get paid, but you will be able to see what the field is like and if it’s a fit for who you are.
When you start volunteering, make it clear you’re doing career research. Some organizations want long term volunteers, and aren’t going to be too pleased when you decide after only 6 weeks that physical therapy isn’t something you want to do.
Give them a heads up and make sure they’re okay with a potentially short stint of time.
6. A Career Coach
Getting a career coach is like buying a really expensive vacuum because you have a house full of cats. You put it off forever because it’s a lot of money and you don’t think it’s worth it, but once you give in you’re not sure why you waited so long to take the leap.
Having a complete stranger look at your life will open doors you never imagined.
Unlike your family and friends, they don’t know you and they don’t have any preconceived biases regarding who you are. They’re coming in cold turkey and can elucidate any misgiving you have about what you’re meant to do.
7. Take Action
Francis Bacon said, “The great end of life is not knowledge but action.”
You can spend years meditating, getting to know yourself, reading, finding out what you truly like and dislike, and who you’re meant to be. But if you never act, if you never put yourself out there, you’ll never truly be fulfilled.
Lack of action stems from fear. Fear of missing out on different careers, fear of failure, fear of what others might think. Many people live their life knowing their calling but never acting on it. Don’t be one of those people. Dive in head first by doing what you know you’re meant to do, even if it doesn’t make a lot of money, even if your family thinks it’s weird, even if you don’t feel confident. It will all be worth it in the end.