Sorting Out Your Career Ideas

Making Sense of the Self Awareness Exercises

Contemplative young businesswoman holding a spectacles while using laptop

How do you sort out all the career ideas that may have been emerging from the work you have done so far? What is next step that will enable you to narrow down your focus?

Hopefully you will have done a lot of thinking about yourself by working through the exercises elsewhere on this site.

Alongside this, you will have been keeping eyes and ears open to any ideas about careers that have captured your imagination. These will be saved in your Career Ideas Log.

So how do you make some sense of all this?

There are two steps you need to take here. Take your time with these so you can really focus on the key learning points for you.

You will probably find both of them easier to work through with your Career Change Buddy so arrange a time when you can meet to discuss your emerging career ideas.

Your Career Identity

career identityFirst of all, take some time to review all the work you have done on understanding yourself through the self assessment guidelines on other pages. What have you learned about yourself? What is the Career Identity that is emerging from these exercises? The career ideas that are right for you will be firmly rooted in this Career Identity.

To build up a picture of your Career Identity, go back to the exercises you have done in the Who Am I Where Am I and What Do I Want sections. Consider each exercise in turn and make a note of what the key insights are for you from that exercise.

It could be a list of the core values you have identified or it might be something that surprised you when you thought about having your life over again. There are no ‘right’ answers here – just make a note of the things that stand out as being most significant to you.

You will probably find that some of the insights you have gained are more significant to you than others. If some things feel particularly important to you, ask yourself – what is it that makes these things so special to me?

Once you have done this, take a sheet of paper and draw a mind map to capture your ideas. Something like this…

career ideas mind mapJot down the insights you have identified on the ‘arms’ of the mind map, leaving the centre circle clear.

Then stand back from it and look at the overall message that you can glean from all of these insights. Complete the ‘Work Identity’ circle in the middle by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What does all this mean for me and for the work that will be right for me?
  • What does this show me that I really want from my work?

Keep your mind open at this stage and watch out for any temptation to limit your vision. Try and summarise your Career Identity in 5 – 6 key points.

Your Career Ideas Log

Hopefully, you will have been gradually collecting ideas in your Career Ideas Log while you have been doing other exercises from this site. Now is the time to unpack what you have collected.

You should ideally have at least 30 ideas, themes, concepts collected by now. If not, use your Career Change Buddy to help you to brainstorm ideas. Look at your Career Identity information first and then just allow ideas and themes to emerge. As before, keep an open mind at this stage.

With the ideas about your Career Identity in mind, look through everything you have collected in your Career Ideas Log and investigate what work themes emerge. These still do not have to be specific job titles at this stage.

Stay with the big picture. So you may come up with things like the natural environment, caring for others, Latin America, dance etc..

To help these themes emerge, look in turn at all the items you have collected and ask yourself:

  • What appeals to me about this item?
  • If my job included this, what would it give me?
  • Why is this important to me?

Again, your Career Change Buddy will be a great help to you in exploring what the core themes are for you.

Once you have done this, try and prioritise the themes. Look at them in pairs and ask ‘if I could only have one of these, which would be more important?’ In this way, the order of importance of these themes to you will gradually emerge. Make a note of the top three or four for the next exercise.

Creating a Spectrum of Possibilities

This exercise is a great tool for career planning for the future. It will help you pull together the ideas that you have drawn from the work you have already done and will assist you in coming up with one or two really strong career ideas that you can take forward and research in detail.

Find out more about it here.

About the author

Amy Thomas

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