The high school years are usually the time when one commits to one’s first (and perhaps only) career. Reflecting on my high school days, I remember working incredibly hard, even though I totally lacked clarity around my career options. I was clueless about what being in a particular career even meant. I don't recall having any conversations with my teachers around finding a job I would love or any programs aimed at helping me discover my talents.
Don’t get me wrong - I am very grateful to my parents for working hard to send me to a school that had a fantastic education. The teachers worked tirelessly (often outside school hours) to help us do the very best we could in our final exams. However, the focus in my school, and perhaps all schools then (and now), was on how to get into university, not the why.
For example, When the time came to picking our university preferences the advice from the Yr 12 coordinator was ‘to flick through the university manuals for ideas.’ That’s what I did and I remember sitting there going through a 500 page catalogue of all the university courses that were available. Reading the brief description of the majority, I had narrowed my choices down to multimedia studies and psychology. I was confused though - how could the two options be so different? This unsettled me as I saw two very different career trajectories in front of me.
Both seemed too extreme from one another, and I ended up turning to my parents for advice. My mother urged me to put down Nursing/Commerce as my first preference. Upon reflection I think I would be hard pressed to find a double degree that incorporated two such different aspects. Thankfully taking two years off after high school and travelling the world helped me realise that commerce/nursing was not the right career path for me.
Observing the lives of teenagers around me and recalling my own time, I can safely state that most people enter university with little self-awareness. Schools are not equipped to have life choices conversations with students. Advice from well-meaning elders, too, is often clouded by their own desires for their child to achieve what they didn’t have the opportunity to. Most teenagers just don’t get the opportunity to practically experience multiple career paths, understand in depth what a job entails and analyse if that career is aligned to their personality or not.
This makes me wonder about adults in different careers today. How do they feel about the decision they made when they were 18 now that they are in their twenties and thirties? Do their four or six years spent at university seem worthwhile? Are they happy with the choices they made? Would they have chosen differently if they had their time again?
If you can relate to these questions don’t freak out! Today, I would like to share three exercises which you can do to help you get clarity on finding the work you love. If you are thinking you made the wrong choice when you were 18, don’t be too hard on yourself. These three simple steps are an opportunity for you to take stock before doing anything drastic!
Step 1: Determine your values
Firstly, identifying your values is going to help you truly understand who you are and what is important to you in life. Your core values can help you discover what your requirements are from your job (it's not just money!) and if they are being met. Here’s what I would like you to do:
Click this link to download a list of core values right now.
Read through this list and circle the ones that stand out for you.
Categorise them before narrowing down to a top 5.
It’s important that you narrow it down to know what your priorities are. Who are you in the core of your being, after all the layers have been removed? Memorise these five values so that you can take better decisions - on the go.
For example, if your boss came to you and said, we have a new position becoming available which will allow you to work from home. We want to offer it to you but you have to let us know by the end of the day. How will you make this decision? Well if your core values are community, connection and teamwork than the chances are you may not enjoy working from home as much as someone whose care values are independence, freedom and autonomy.
Step 2: Find your passions
Don’t stop at step 1. Think about what activities make you feel really alive. Obviously, these activities will be linked to your core values, but they will also give an indication of your strengths and talents.Answer these two simple questions right now:
1. When I’m completely engrossed and loving what I’m doing, what am I doing?
2. If I didn’t have to worry about money and I could wake up and do what I wanted each day so that I knew I had lived a meaningful life, how would I spend my days?
Asking yourself these questions helps you determine what it really is you are passionate about, consequence free. No one else has to know the answer to these questions. Chances are that deep down you know what the answers are and have known for a long time. Perhaps you have been afraid to answer these questions in the past because it may mean that your actions have to change. You either have to start doing or stop doing something.
What do you need to change in your life as a result of answering these questions?
Step 3: Define your success
Now that you know your values and passions it’s time to combine these into your definition of success. This is perhaps the most important thing you will ever pen in your life. Too often we go through life living out other people’s definition of success rather than discerning what success means to us. And you have to dig deeper than a superficial ‘to be happy’.
Look at your values, look at what you are passionate about and think of ways in which you can combine these things to create your definition of success. I’ll give you an example.
My top five values are:
I’m passionate about helping young women live life to the fullest and I’m passionate about travelling and finding new experiences. Both of these things are closely tied to my values. Therefore my definition of success is to live a life where I can ‘empower women while travelling the world’. It’s simple and lends itself to me being able to live out that definition of success in many different ways.
What’s your definition of success? If you are finding it difficult to define this in one sentence I’m offering you an opportunity to have a free discovery session where I can help you get clear on what success means to you. Knowing this will give you more confidence and clarity moving forward in your chosen direction. A direction that is important to you and your overall life happiness.