The clues to your ideal career lie in the subtleties of your life. Pay close attention to the activities and experiences that trigger you in both positive and negative ways. You have to drill down. Passion is useless without precision. Turn over some rocks and notice your emotions as you discover what lives there.
1. Be a paleontologist. Dig through your life and pull out the artifacts that point to your strengths. Be open to what you find. Throw no evidence away. Start with one clear detail that you know to be true, and then slowly widen your lens. When do you experience concentrations of positive energy? What are the topics that you find yourself pondering most frequently? What are the ideas that keep you awake at night? What ambitions did you set aside when you were younger because you "couldn't make a living doing that"? Using right now as the starting point, review your life and look for clues. Which jobs do you wish you could have stuck with if some of the circumstances were different? What "mistakes" or "accidents" can you reflect on and find new meaning in? What were the significant moments that shaped you? What chance meetings stand out for you? What are some things that others have said about you that have stuck with you over the years? What show did you never miss on TV when you were a kid?
Here are eight key steps to ensuring you stay on track:
2. Get specific. Create clear, detailed, action-oriented strength statements to guide you in your search. "I feel strong when I..." is the best way to start these statements. Ensure you are describing an activity that you are doing and not something that is happening to you.
3. Do your research. Research roles that will give you the opportunity to use your strengths most of the time.
4. Tap your network. Seek out experts in the field and interview them. Know that their experience will feel different from yours because of their unique strengths. The information is still valuable.
5. Look for opportunities to intern in the role that interests you. Get exposure any way you can. Volunteer, shadow, practice on friends. Get creative about how to do this role before you actually do it.
6. Educate yourself. If it's a truly strengthening direction, you'll be naturally drawn to learning as much as you can about it. You'll have energy for learning, training, practicing. Acquiring specialized skills increases your irreplaceability. This is a good thing.
7. Own the job before you have it. Visualize yourself in the role. Say out loud what you want to be doing. Tell people that this is the job that you want. Tell them what you're willing to do to have it.
8. Keep moving. You have to take steps toward your goals. Every single step that you take toward the goal will give you feedback on your direction. Movement is imperative. As you go along, check in with yourself. Be clear on the strengthening feelings that you are striving for and let those be your guide rather than some super-specific imagined future. This is not about perfection. You may never have the perfect job, but you can strive for those perfectly strengthening feelings. Learn from everything. Stay awake. Trust your instincts. Fight for your life.
You have a totally unique combination of talents and skills. You were born different from everyone else. You are the best teacher about what makes you different. You must take it upon yourself to get specific about what makes you different so that you can take control of your life and make your greatest contribution possible.
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 13, 2013
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