When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? For many, the answer to this question was simple—a doctor, singer, astronaut, the president. Without hesitation, we could quickly conjure an inspirational vision in one or two definitive words.
How do you answer this question now? If you’re like most people, finding that determining your career vision is much more complicated when you're an adult. We can become overwhelmed as we consider endless possibilities, and the influences in our lives—the people we know, places we’ve been, and experiences we’ve had—shape our success. As we have more life experiences, we create more career options, and with more options comes more complexity.
If you’re finding yourself questioning your purpose or direction, you’re not alone. You might be wondering if you have the right job or trying to figure out if you should pursue other opportunities. You may even be wondering if you need to do a total reboot and move in a different direction.
Regardless of your starting place, if you can answer these three key questions, you can move in a direction that’s authentic and fulfilling.
Question 1: What Do You Do Better Than Most?This question may seem simple to answer, yet most people struggle to respond with clarity and conviction. Whether it be a belief that we shouldn't brag about ourselves or the fact that we’ve never really thought about it, it can be difficult for some to answer.
Start with thinking about your natural strengths and abilities. What makes you special? You know you can check this one off the list when you can articulate your top three to five strengths with confidence.
Think about the activities that come most naturally to you. Can you recall a time in the last 30 days when you were so engaged in an activity at work that you lost track of time? Perhaps you were coaching a team member or creating a new learning activity from scratch. For some, it’s making a presentation as perfect as possible. Pay special attention to the activities that energize you the most.
Question 2: What Do You Value Most in Life?What’s most important in your life right now? What will be the most important thing next year? To live an authentic and fulfilling life, we need to make sure our decisions align with our top personal values. If you’re unhappy in your career, it’s possible you’re not in tune with what you really want—you may actually be living according to someone else’s values.
It’s easy to identify words associated with values, like “family,” “financial stability,” or “health and fitness.” However, I’ve found that to honestly answer this question, we need to look more closely at our daily behaviors. For example, if you say “financial stability” is a core personal value, then what consistent actions are you taking to live this? If you find you aren’t living it as fully as you’d like, then you can change course by implementing small new habits.
Question 3: What Do You Want to Be Known For?What’s your ideal reputation? How do you want to be perceived? Where do you see yourself three to five years from now? These questions are all around personal brand and vision. To best answer, envision your LinkedIn profile three years from now. If you were leveraging your natural strengths and living according to your personal values, what could you achieve?
Picture your future headline. What would it say about you? A great way to defining this is to practice writing your headline. It should define who you are, what you do, and for what purpose. For example, my headline might be “Author and facilitator who puts emerging professionals in the driver’s seat of their career path.”
Once you can confidently articulate what you bring to the table, are aware of your top values, and can envision what you want to be known for, you can consciously steer yourself in a direction that’s authentic and fulfilling.