Tips to help you narrow down your ideas
‘I want to do something interesting’
As a career coach that inevitably leads me to ask…
‘So what do you find interesting?’
‘What does interesting look like for you?’
This is one of those words that means something different to everyone, so to find your list of interesting career choices, you need to start with yourself.
What do you mean by interesting?
A job that…
- Is unusual – different from the everyday. Something nobody will have heard of?
- Involves a particular kind of activity or subject matter? And what is your particular interest – nuclear physics, grunge music, the great outdoors, politics….?
- Will absorb your attention and keep you engrossed?
- Requires you to constantly come up with new ideas?
- Is constantly changing with every day being different?
- Allows you to meet lots of people?
- Engages you intellectually and demands that you are constantly learning?
- Etc., etc…..
The list goes on.
Finding out what you are interested in
– ask yourself
In theory it should be easy to list your interests and to use this to identify interesting career choices. But somehow, when the question is asked, it is not so easy after all.
Here are a couple of approaches you may find helpful.
- Imagine that money is no longer an issue – you can access all the funds you need to live on and to do anything you want. What would you do?OK, after you have bought the big house, had the fabulous holidays, shopped till you drop…then what? What activities or themes would be at the centre of your daily activities?
- Look back over different stages of your life, say…childhood, teenage, young adult, mid life. On
separate sheets of paper, list what you were interested in, passionate about at each stage of your life.What activities were you regularly involved in? What are the underlying themes in the items that come up on your lists? Are there any interests which have been buried, but which you would like to return to?
Finding out what you are interested in
– look around you
You can also test out your interests by looking outwards for inspiration in the world and from the people around you.
The interesting career choices you are seeking are under your nose, if you are willing to just open your eyes and your mind enough to see them.
Become a career detective
There are literally thousands of jobs and careers out there, and one of these might be just the thing you are looking for. Take an everyday situation and use it to prompt your thinking.
Here’s an example, to get you started.
You are sitting on the train on the way to work. How many jobs can you identify from what you see around you?
- Just getting the train to run – train driver, signals engineer, transport manager, mechanical engineer
- The train is running late – customer services manager, public relations officer
- Designing the train inside & out – product designer, interior designer, materials engineer
- How other passengers look – fashion designer, optometrist, hairdresser, doctor, tailor
- Someone is reading the paper – newspaper editor, journalist, photographer, advertising executive
- Someone is listening to an iPod – musician, music producer, computer software engineer, advertising branding specialist
- Parent with child – nursery nurse, children’s toy design, paediatrician
- Teenager reading – school teacher, author, youth worker
- View out of the window – civil engineer, garden designer, retail manager, pilot, police officer
Get the idea?
See how many interesting career choices you can come up with this way. Keep the ideas coming for as long as possible before you start to narrow down to what you are interested in.
Talk to people about their jobs. What do they do? What do they find interesting about their jobs? What their friends do? What would they be interested in doing if they had a completely free choice?
Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that because your best friend finds his job as an actuary really interesting, that you would enjoy it too. This is why you need to investigate what it is about the role that they enjoy and make your own assessment about whether that would appeal to you too.
The key question to ask is…
If I had to do this all day or a big part of my job involved this, would it hold my interest?
Remember that no job will be 100% fascinating. There will always be some routine or mundane aspects of any role. The key issue is to explore what will hold your interest.
So when you are investigating interesting career choices, make sure you look both inwards and outwards to help you find the answer to what will interest you.
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