1. Watch a few videos
You are probably the 3,024,124th person who has struggled to work out what career path to follow. (Really. You’re not alone.) There are so many practical and inspirational videos on YouTube made by people who have been in the same boat as you. Sometimes all it takes is one little piece of advice to completely change your perspective or even your whole life. Make a habit of watching a TED talk every day or even every second day online. It only takes 20 minutes (or less). If you don’t know where to start, try searching for titles like “How to Know Your Life Purpose in 5 Minutes” or “How To Find And Do Work You Love”.
2. Write down your values
People always generalize that you have two options when it comes to choosing a career — do what you love OR go after a bucket load of money. There are so many other factors that influence your happiness levels and general fulfillment. Are you better off working solo, or do you love socializing in a team environment? Do you like the routine of the 9-to-5 day, or mixing it up with irregular and unusual hours? Love to type away at your laptop all day amongst a pile of empty coffee cups? Or would you rather be outside in the fresh air and on your feet? Think about your current lifestyle, habits, and preferences, and write down what you really value. Having a passion/interest for something and earning sweet cash are just two pieces of a much larger puzzle.
3. Interview people
People working in their dream job tend to feel proud of their achievements. They generally love talking about what they do and retelling the story of how they got there. So just ask! Look up their number or email (it only takes two minutes) and reach out. Explain (politely) that you are interested in their industry or role, and it would be really helpful if you could ask them a few questions. If they live or work in your area, offer to hand deliver them a free coffee or lunch. If they are on the other side of the world, no problem — suggest a Skype chat or just email back and forth. It feels kind of weird to contact a stranger out of the blue, but you will be surprised at how open people are. Don’t feel guilty for taking up their time either – it feels good to offer advice and help people out. You are giving them the opportunity to enjoy that warm buzz of helping someone else.
4. Test the waters
You won’t ever know if you really love (or despise) something until you give it a try. There are twelve months in the year. How about devoting one month to researching each possible area of interest? Spend a month reading up on/doing courses on/trying your hand at/speaking to people in [insert career here] – writing, finance, psychology, art, design, social work, events, marketing, business, manufacturing, or whatever else sparks your interest. You will be amazed at what you learn. Even discovering that you totally suck at something or simply can’t stand it is really useful. It narrows down the field of possibilities, which can feel so overwhelmingly large.
5. Chat with friends
Your friends often see things in you that you can’t see yourself if you didn’t have their help to guide you. Next time you’re all out grabbing dinner or a drink, ask those in your inner circle what they picture you being good at. If their answers take you by surprise, that’s great! It will get your mind ticking over at a whole new path that you hadn’t considered. If their answers align with what you had in mind — well, it’s a bit of a confidence booster to know that other people see it as a perfect fit for you. Either way, it’s a win-win.