Updated: May 22
So many people end up being unhappy in a job not because of the external factors of the circumstances that come with the job, but the mere fact that a bad decision was made leading to taking up the path of being in the job that is not suitable. What drove the decision for you to pursue that job or career path to begin with? Money? Status? Parents?
Recently, I spoke to a girl who has just completed an undergraduate degree and realised she didn't know what to do with it. So, what was her solution? Enrol herself in another degree...
And how did she decide on what to study I asked? The answer was "I was planning to apply to study two different subjects, but the first one I was accepted into before I could apply for the second one and it seemed like a good degree to have... a law degree, so I thought why not?". Do you see what is wrong here already?
I am so astonished by how people can take these life changing, money draining, time sapping, critical decisions in their lives just like tossing a coin! I hate to have to shame them because these decisions are not easy to make, or I wouldn't be here writing about it and making a career out of it now, would I?
The one thing that a lot of people do not realise is that probably the most important factor to deciding on which career path to take is personality match. Yes, there are many great jobs out there... Doctor, lawyer, scientist, designer, architect, pharmacist, musician, runner... Were you built to be one though?
Don't go try be a lawyer because your dad was one! Don't work to be a doctor if you are scared of blood! Don't try to be a musician if you are tone deaf!
When you look at job descriptions, ask yourself "What are the 3 main traits that this job is looking for, and are these 3 main traits also what I have to offer?". If you can find a job or career path that uses your top 3 main strengths, then bingo! So start by asking yourself what do you think you have been blessed with as your strongest talents.
What helps when you are unsure of which career path or job to take? Many naturally try and work hard to learn about all the available options. This is of course necessary… but, the more important thing, I believe, is for you to learn about yourself and what you want out of your career… In more technical terms, you need to gain intrapersonal intelligence.
Questions to ask yourself to help know yourself better
1) Spontaneity vs structure – Do you need a position and workplace that has structure in place or are you more a spontaneous and prefer working on the fly?
2) Active vs passive – Are you more active or passive in nature? Do you prefer to be chasing after things and initiating contact with others or do you prefer to react to questions and request?
3) People vs information – Do you prefer to deal with people or do you prefer staring into a screen collecting, sorting and analysing information?
4) Intense vs laid-back – Do you prefer a job that is intense and high-pressured or do you prefer a more relaxed and laid-back environment?
5) High level vs detail-oriented – Do you naturally think of things at a high level or are you more interested in the details and minutia?
6) Emotional vs rational – Do you find yourself emotionally affected and making decisions based on your heart or does logic and rationale determine how you make decisions?
7) Creativity vs obedience – Do you have a need to be original and create new things or do you prefer to have set rules and procedure to follow?
8) Fast-paced vs slow deep thinking – Do you prefer to be in a job that requires you to be on the go-go-go or do you prefer to be a role that requires you to simmer your thoughts and explore new ideas and theories over extended periods of time?
9) Dynamic vs stable – Do you get bored easily and constantly need change or do you need stability of your surroundings and circumstances instead of rapid and frequent changes?
10) Ad-hoc vs planning – Do you have trouble planning ahead and prefer finding your way through at the moment or do you need everything to be planned in advance?
11) Variety vs routine – Do you need a mix of different things and change or do you prefer to have a set routine to stick to?
12) Casual vs formal – Are you more casual in nature preferring to dress up in jeans and t-shirt goofing around with colleagues or do you prefer to be in a more formal and conservative environment where suits and tie are more accepted?
13) Long hours vs set time – Can you handle working overtime consistently or do you need to be home by a set time every day?
14) Abstract vs concrete - do you deal better with abstract ideas and concepts or with tangible physical things that you can see and touch?
15) Open-ended or definitive answers - do you prefer to solve problems with definitive answers or those that are open-ended and where there is no right answer?
16) Compassionate or emotionless - do you easily feel compassion for others in troubled situations or do you struggle to feel compassion for others?
17) Communicative or reserved - do you enjoy communicating with others or do you prefer to spend time with your own ideas in your own head?
18) Teamwork or individual - do you prefer to work with others or by yourself?
19) Numbers, words or graphic - are you good with numbers, words or images?
20) Tight deadlines or indeterminate timeline - do you work better with deadlines or do you need the right amount of time to not rush through your work?
What subject matter interests you… reading materials, numbers, tools, specimens for experiments, drawings, charts, teeth, houses, buildings, roads, mines, seas, clothes, documents, travel schedules, maps, artwork, signboards, computer screens, operating tables, dead bodies, children, old people, sick people, incapacitated people, animals, trees, food, alcohol, sports…
The list and questions go on and on and you need to know what exactly is your style and how these preferences of yours can be put to good use to bring out the best of you in your vocation.
There are some that would rebutt, "I need to not avoid my weaknesses, but face them and try to improve on them, so for example if I have always been poor with numbers so in order to face this weakness, I shall put myself into the position of an accountant!". Well, darling life is tough enough as it is, if you choose to make it tougher for yourself, go ahead... just don't come crying to me after why you are struggling to thrive in life while your friends are kicking goals!
The key is to play by your strengths and interests. Everyone has their own strengths, regardless of what kind of test scores they get in school. You just need to learn what it is that you naturally are tended towards and pursue that. If you are good at what you do and enjoy the work, then you have a higher chance to succeed and you won’t feel like you are working at all.
Like Roger Federer has decided to play tennis instead of being an artist because he knows his talents lie in sports and tennis is his game. While most of us do not have such obvious distinct cases, we should aim to do the same with our lives.
Til next time Dee Dream Life
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” Confucius