By Eric Lunsford
You did everything you were supposed to to get on the right career path.
When you were in high school, you looked toward college to find a career. "Someday you're going to be a doctor, lawyer or even a business owner," said your overbearing-but-well-meaning parents.
When you arrived at college, guidance counselors helped you pick the classes you needed to achieve your major -- a major you were led to believe was a career fit because some curriculum-based test you took in high school said it would be.
When you entered the "real world" you worked hard to please everyone and "earn your rank." For the sake of your career, you did anything and everything that was placed on your desk. And you did it with a smile.
Until one day you woke up and asked yourself, "What the hell am I doing?! This isn't what I want to do."
You realized your entire life has been actions taken based on someone else's assignments. You've followed this career path because it's the easiest/most lucrative/prestigious/you felt forced into it. Am I right?
But now that you've achieved what you've been working toward for years, you've come to the realization that this career isn't what you want. Even worse, you have no idea what you really want! You feel lost.
But this isn't entirely your fault; there's a flaw in today's system. We spend hours upon hours learning processes and procedures, rules and guidelines, assumptions and expectations. Yet we don't put enough time into understanding the most important piece that ultimately leads to our career success.
That important piece?
So how do you come to understand yourself and capitalize on that knowledge to get the job that makes you come alive? Here are three areas that are most important to focus on -- your strengths, your personality and your passion.
1. Capitalize on your strengths.
Finding what you're good at and focusing on those traits is always more beneficial than trying to improve something you're not naturally amazing at. Find tasks and projects that capitalize on these strengths and stick to those. One of the best tools I've used to educate myself on mine is StrengthsFinder 2.0.
2. Trust your own personality.
"We are all unique individuals." How many of us have heard that? As cliched as it is, it's true.
Your personality is a combination of things that you can change and things you can't. (It's genetically ingrained in you!) Of all the personality tests, my favorite is the Meyers-Briggs. It's amazing how much more clarity you have when you know why you do what you do.
3. Re-evaluate your passion.
There's a question you hear a lot when someone is asking you about your passion. "What would you do even if you weren't getting paid for it?" To that I say: Throw whatever your answer is out the window.
Why? Because ultimately you need to be paid to turn your passion into a career.
Instead, ask yourself, "What's something people are always complimenting me on that I absolutely love doing?" Now that's something you can turn into a moneymaker.
If we focus on what's external and play the people-pleaser role, we'll always feel a bit lost. We'll lose control over our own destiny.
But if we educate ourselves and understand who we are internally, we'll build the foundation we need to make decisions -- good decisions -- based on our own assignment.
Eric Lunsford writes at his blog Coffee & Warm Showers, where he has one goal: to help others wake their true self up and transform into the person they've always wanted to be.
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