‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ Confucius
‘How do I choose a job I love ? How do I choose a career that’s right for me?’ These are the questions I get most often. The answer is both simple and complex at the same time.
If I am trying to choose a career then an important first step would be to understand who I am as a person. Now you’re going to say – what’s difficult about that? I already know who I am. I know so many things about myself. So why should that be tough? But when I’ve asked students to tell me about themselves they usually come up with answers like ‘I like playing cricket, watching movies, and when I dig a little deeper they add ‘I like to read and I also like spending time with my friends.’ So that’s ok – they are sharing what they like doing and how they spend their time. But that’s not entirely who we are. There is so much more to one’s nature and individual personality than just that.
So if someone is trying to understand themselves. Here are some of the questions to reflect upon and answer –
What are my likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses?
How do I react in various situations ?
What makes my heart beat faster or what are the things I really love doing?
What are my interests? What sports do I play and why do I enjoy those?
What do I excel in effortlessly? What are the things that I find challenging and need to put a lot of hard work into?
What do I do when faced with a challenge or a task that seems insurmountable? Do I shy away from it or do I move through it with determination?
Do I take risks often? Occasionally?
What are those things that I don’t enjoy too much?
Do I like working in groups, do I need to be around people to feel energised or do I enjoy working on my own?
Do I learn by doing or do I learn from courses and study material?
So when asked these questions a few will have ready answers while most will need to think through them for a bit. And that’s perfectly fine because we keep discovering things about ourselves as we go through various situations in life. But its also important to make a conscious effort to know ourselves better while choosing a career that is going to stay with us for a large part of our lives. So it makes sense to take the time to do this self-analysis.
Some of the ways understand ourselves better
Keeping a journal. One could spend 15 – 20 minutes at night to write in the journal. Over a period of time this will give a lot of mental clarity and help delve deeper into ones nature as well.
Another thing one could do is speak to a close friend or family member to validate some of the ideas about oneself. Ask them questions about what they think of you. You need to take their feedback and reflect upon it to see if what they are saying sits with your own thoughts and ideas about yourself. Others might see you differently from how you see yourself. But this gives you an additional data point to work on.
There are also a number of personality tests that will give you insights like the MBTI, 16 Personal Factors, DISC Profile.
Use any of these tools and a dose of self-reflection to get to a deeper understanding of your personality.
Getting to know yourself better will help you choose a career that is suitable to your own nature, needs and interests. Having a better understanding of oneself will help not only in choosing the right career but will also equip a person to make better decisions in other areas of life as well. So it is definitely time well spent!