Have you ever caught yourself thinking this? I have. It’s frustrating. There’s an unwritten rule that at 21 years old, you should know what you’re going to do with your life. Since most don’t have a clue what that is, we pick something. It might be something we studied in school or that a friend or family member suggests, but we usually pick it because it’s right in front of us.
It’s no surprise that many look up from desks, computers, or cash registers and wonder how we got where we are.
What now? If the answer could just pop into your head, it would. Most of the time, finding the answer takes a bit of work with yourself and maybe a coach. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Spend some time identifying your personal values.
These are things that motivate you, such as creativity, innovation, coaching, leading, or learning. I like to narrow it down to five values and then prioritize them. Then, when you’re considering an opportunity, you can screen it with this list. For example, if you value independence, freelancing might be a great way for you to go. However, if you value stability, freelancing probably would be very stressful. You might think you know your values, but most of my clients are surprised by what they discover when they take the time to make a list.
2. Create an ideal vision for your life and career.
Here is where you need to let go of your internal critic or naysayer and any “shoulds” that dance around in your head. It’s important to let yourself dream big, whether it’s realistic or not. Begin by clearing and calming your mind with whatever method you like — meditating, deep breathing, or listening to music. Imagine yourself waking up in the morning. What do you see around you when you open your eyes? What do you eat for breakfast? Do you walk to your office in the next room, or do you get on a train or hop on your bike to ride to your office? With whom do you work? Do you talk with many people during the day, or are you more focused on your tasks? You may want to write or type this out like a story. Then, let it sit overnight and return to it and see if anything new arises.
3. Tell someone else.
Once you’re satisfied with your vision, it’s time to talk it through with someone. The idea is to see what’s possible and eventually turn it in to a plan. This will be a long-term plan. I don’t think I’ve seen one yet that could happen overnight. However, only you know how much time you can tolerate. Be realistic, yet optimistic, if you can. Quitting your job and going back to school might not be possible, but what about evening courses? Sure, it will take longer, but if you keep your vision in mind, you should be able to make it possible.
These are just the first steps of several that you can go through to find a job you love. You don’t have to dread your day at work. You have to believe that there is something out there for you. Unfortunately, that something doesn’t usually walk up to you and tap your shoulder. It takes effort, curiosity, an open mind, flexibility, and motivation, but it will be worth it to do the work. It’s much better to move toward something than to run away from it.
Also, be sure to give yourself a little space to not think about it. Set a time every day to clear your head with yoga, sit with your eyes closed, or read a book. Soon, the day will come when you know what’s next. Hating your job today can actually be the first step to loving it tomorrow.
Anne Hubben believes the only thing worse than looking for a job you want is looking for a job you don't want. Anne is a career coach and recruiter for creative talent. She has been recruiting creatives in the design and advertising industry for 15 years and coaching them internationally for 4 years. She can be found at AnneHubben.com where she offers free resources and creative career tips. Say hello on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+