In a labor market that’s hungry for talent, it can feel like there are endless options for a career change. And while that’s a great thing, it can also be overwhelming.
Many of us find ourselves stuck in careers that we’re not particularly passionate about. And figuring out what to do next can be a challenge.
This post is going to walk through a process to help you find and pursue a career that is more meaningful to you.
1. Figure Out What You Want
The first step to finding more meaningful work is figuring out what you want to do. It sounds simple and obvious, right? However, it’s not so easy to do.
At a high level, I’ve found the following steps helpful in figuring out what you want to do with your life:
Start by establishing a vision for your life
Ultimately, I believe that your best fit for work will match and support your personal values. So that means that your work should fit into the overall life that you want to build for yourself.
But to start, you have to be intentional about a vision for what that life looks like. It sounds like a big thing to figure out, but I’ve found that you can get some high level direction by doing the following.
Defining Your Values
Defining your values can help to frame what is most important to you. You can start by listing your values on cards and putting them in order of importance for you. It’s an exercise that helps put your priorities in perspective and helps you think through not just what, but why things matter to you.
For example, if you complete a values exercise and come to find that your family is the thing that you value more than anything else in the world, that may tell you that you’re going to want to find work that gives you the flexibility to be available and present for them to the greatest extent possible.
Writing a Future Biography
After you’ve defined your values, there’s another an exercise that I’ve found that can really help you to visualize the life you want to build for yourself. Try writing a future biography. There are future authoring tools online that can provide writing prompts for an exercise like this, but the idea is that completing a future authoring exercise helps you to tangibly picture the future that you want to build for yourself, which then helps to give you an idea of how your work fits into where you would like to go.
Translate That Vision Into Tangible Career Options with the Ikigai Framework
Once you have that high level vision of the life that you want to build for yourself, you need to try and figure out some tangible career options that would fit into that life.
My favorite way of thinking about that is by trying to find your Ikigai. Ikgai is a Japanese concept that roughly means “reason for being” and represents the intersection of the following things:
- What you’re good at
- What the world needs
- What you love
- What you can be paid for
Here is a picture of an Ikigai diagram illustrating the concept:
List things that apply in each of the four categories and try to find the intersection. For example, you may find that you listed photography as something that you love, that you’re good at, that can make you money, and that people need. That could be your Ikigai and the path that you want to pursue.
Of the options that you find that meet in the intersection of your Ikigai diagram, you’ll want to evaluate how each of those would fit into the context of the overall life that you want to build for yourself.
2. Map Your Qualifications & Tailor Your Resume
Once you have a sense of what it is that you want to pursue, your next step is going to be to write out all of the skills and qualifications that you have for that particular career path.
From there, you’ll want to tailor your resume with those skills and qualifications so you have a targeted tool for submitting job applications in pursuit of your ideal career.
Also, note that you may find that your ideal work doesn’t involve working for somebody else, and that’s ok. It’s still ultimately a good idea to complete this step, as you may find that you need some experience working for others in the short term to build the skills you need to go out on your own.
3. Close the Gaps in Your Skill Set
After you’ve mapped out your qualifications, you may come to realize that there are some gaps that you have in your skills and background that could make it difficult for you to pursue your ideal career path.
As you’re out applying for jobs or starting to do the work that you want to pursue, you can focus on closing those gaps in your skillset by doing one or all of the following:
- Starting a relevant side hustle
- Volunteering in your desired field
- Networking with people in the field
- Going back to school and/or completing online courses
4. Go After Low Hanging Fruit
The final recommendation as you’re pursuing a more meaningful career is to take advantage of any low hanging fruit to make the pivot.
For example, say you work in customer service, but have always wanted to work in marketing. If you work for a company that also has a marketing department, moving into the department at that company could be much easier than finding a totally new role.
You can also take advantage of your existing network and ask for their help in getting you into the field that you would like.
It’s great to have options, but it can be overwhelming to find work that that’s truly meaningful. By following the steps above, you’ll be able to discover what it is that you want to do, and then intentionally pursue a path towards your ideal career.
This article was submitted by Dan Slocum from Best Fit Work.