Friday, April 5, 2013

Use Your Interests to Build Your Dream Career

"Find something you love to do, and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

After I graduated college, I spent a lot of time thinking about the next steps I should take to begin my career. I know that I often learn more about myself through introspective thinking and by taking quick little personality and career assessments, making lists and diagrams, and detailing my skills, goals, and dreams.

Being as much of a reader as I am led me to buy a book that I had heard about but never really took the time to research before. You may have heard of it, or maybe not; the point is that this book has so much information on how to figure out what you want to do and then gives you the resources to go do it.

Check out the official site for the book, sold on Amazon and in stores, here.

This book is updated annually and written in a conversational tone that allows you to focus more on the content and less on reading it in a certain way. Complete with little cartoons, diagrams, and humorous statements, this book is a joy to read and a must have for soon-to-be and recent graduates, the unemployed, and anyone looking to make a career change.

Some of my favorite exercises in the book, besides the famed "Flower Exercise" (above, which, when completed gives you an amazing full picture of yourself and what you want) were simple, easy to do, and practical.

Take a look at this prioritizing grid. The grid is used while completing the flower exercise and allows you to determine, in order, which of ten things are most and least important to you, with little thinking on your part beyond writing down the ten things in any order.
You then compare one item at a time with each of the other nine items, record how many times each item "won", and then list them in the final order on the right, with the most important thing on top. You can use this grid to list career interests, preferred working conditions, locations, values, or whatever you wish. I could technically even list my 10 favorite foods and find out which ones I really like best, just for fun.

Another great tool in the book is the three way Venn diagram, which you fill in with your three favorite interests (found by using a prioritizing grid, writing stories, and completing your flower). It looks like this:

If you like psychology, woodworking, and drawing, maybe you'd enjoy something like Habitat for Humanity. Maybe you like cooking, animals, and the environment. How about making organic dog treats? Just by visually representing your interests, you can be more creative with how you want to combine and enjoy them as part of your career.

If you want to change careers or industries but don't have much experience in your new chosen field, you can try making the change in more than one step by looking at it logically.

Here's an example from the book:

Using this method, slowly, but surely you will find find yourself in your new chosen career, and you will still be able to use skills you already have to get ahead along the way.

These are just a few great tools for helping you find a career that you love, and I highly recommend reading the entire book What Color Is Your Parachute? 2013: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers.You can get it as a paperback or for Kindle, but I say go with the book so you can really dig in and keep track of your likes and dreams. (A separate workbook is also available to fill in the exercises, but you can easily get away with just some loose leaf paper. I did.)

What methods have you used to figure out what your interests are and how you want to develop your career? If you have any advice for recent graduates or career changers, be sure to leave a comment below!

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