How Can I Know What I Want To Do (When I Grow Up)?

It’s OK to have changing career goals.  It is normal, in fact.  Many people either fell into their current career by happenstance, or they selected one that is no longer (or never was) satisfying.  They struggle to figure out the “right” career for themselves.  What is not OK, though,  is to continue in a career that doesn’t fit without a plan to change it.

There are some questions that help you figure out what’s best for you:

First the Practical Questions:

  1.  How much money do you need to make?
  2. What skills do you have/can you get?
  3. How much time do you have to reach your goals?
  4. What do you believe are the  real constraints that exist in deciding what you want to do? (Things like you probably can’t take your three year old into the rainforest while you do eco-research.)

Now the Passion Questions:

  1. What rewards are most important to you to get from a job? Money? Learning? Creative outlet? Status?
  2. What are you doing when you forget what time it is?
  3. What would you do if you won the lottery and money was no object?
  4. What energizes you?
  5. What are your favorite activities?

Now What?

Martin Yate, who writes lots of career books,, suggests in his book, Knock ’em Dead Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, that you should actually have three careers .  He advises that you have a core career (the one that pays your bills), an entrepreneurial career (the one where you venture into ways of making money and growing a business beyond your core career) and your dream career (the one that you really want to do, all other things being neutralized).

When I applied this idea, I found it easier to succeed at my core career.  I was focused on growing skills in my core career that would benefit my other two careers.  Working toward my dream career, even though I was living with my core career, energized me.  I found myself able to be more effective at all of them because the passion was back in my work life.  I saw the benefits of my “day” job for my dream job and had a completely different attitude.  My different attitude and increased effectiveness led to more rewards in my core career, and that in turn sped up the process of moving toward my other two careers.

So . . . What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

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Filed under Career Development, Career Goals, Executive Development, Goal Setting

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