Every super-successful person has a unique story, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single one who reached the pinnacle without passion. Why else would they spend their whole lives overcoming obstacles to make their dreams a reality?
The problem is that it’s not always easy to find work that excites you. To help you figure it out, we combed through the Quora thread “How can I figure out what I really want to do with my life after college?” and highlighted the most insightful responses.
Whether you’re a new grad or you’ve already tried a few different career paths, these seven strategies will help you find a job that gets your blood flowing and brings you one step closer to success.
1. Consider what makes you lose track of time.
“What makes you lose track of time? It means you’re in flow,” writes Quora user Charlie Houpert.
The concept of “flow” has a scientific basis: Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term to describe a state of complete absorption in a specific task — when you’re so fully immersed that you’re barely aware of things like time passing or being hungry. Ideally, your work would always capture your full attention this way.
2. Remember what you liked doing as a kid.
“Remember when you were a child, you really loved doing some things,” says Nikant Vohra. “You did not do things to impress anyone or earn money. Revisit your childhood and look at things you really loved. You might find your life purpose hidden in any one of them.”
One business consultant suggests making a list of everything you remember enjoying as a child and seeing how you can incorporate those activities into your current career. For example, if you loved putting together puzzles, that might suggest that you’d find satisfaction as an engineer.
3. Rule out what you don’t want to do.
“The easy way to figure out what you want to do is figure out what you don’t want to do,” says Stan Hayward.
The most important part of this exercise is figuring out why you don’t want to pursue certain careers. Would you loathe a career in finance because you’d prefer something more creative? Once you have that realisation, you can narrow down your search to creative fields.
4. Read biographies.
“Find biographies about different people, in different fields. See if any of their interests resonate with yours,” writes Nan Waldman. “See how others figured out what they wanted to do with their lives.”
Not sure where to begin? Start here.
5. Find the intersection between your strengths, your passions, and available career paths.
“Consider where the best job opportunities lie, and what your greatest strengths and passions are,” says Anne W. Zahra. “The place where opportunity and passion overlap is probably the best place to start.”
Consider drawing three circles: one with activities you love, one with things you do well, and one with decently paying positions. The intersection of those three circles could help you find a solution to your quandary.
6. Ask for advice carefully.
“Know who to ask for advice,” suggests Anand Vaishampayan. “Not everyone has enough information, knowledge, and experience to guide you in the right direction.”
One strategy might be to find successful people in each career path you’re considering and reach out to them. That way you aren’t asking friends and family who want the best for you but aren’t necessarily familiar with the jobs.
7. Don’t be afraid of choosing the wrong path.
“Being afraid of committing to the wrong thing will minimise your ability to explore the world,” says Ragav Yarasi.
The worst that could happen is that you’ll figure out what you don’t like about that career field (see No. 4), which will bring you one step closer to finding work you truly love.
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