Career Talk: How to Work Out What You Want to Do

Ten years ago I was a signwriter. Seven years ago I was a delivery driver. Five years ago I was an accountant. Three years ago I became a journalist.

It sounds like the CV of a career nomad, always on the move in search of greener pastures. And, to be honest, that’s probably a pretty apt description.

But in each career that’s come across my path, I’ve tried to make the most of the experience by sucking up as much as possible from key people at the top of their game. And as soon as that well ran dry or I learnt enough to know the top job wasn’t one I aspired to do, I left.

Rather than let my interest wane and apathy take hold until it became obvious to everyone else that I wanted out, I took the good bits from each role and looked for a new career that catered to them.

This is essentially how I worked out what I wanted to do.


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I added bits and pieces as I went from job to job until the recipe was written and I knew what my next career would be. And this is a really important process to go through, especially as formal education teaches us very little about the career we’re setting ourselves up for.

We stumble out of school into a tech college or uni degree we don’t know too much about at the other end. This is the reality of making a career-shaping education call at the ignorant age of 18.

After that, it’s necessary for most of us to work a few different jobs until we’ve refined our skills and experience to hone in on the career we actually want. And it’s a super important process to go through.

However, while that exploration got me to where I wanted to go, the cocktail of careers were only half the puzzle in nailing down what I wanted to do.

You see, everyone experiences varying levels of satisfaction and engagement in their jobs, but not everybody appreciates the power they have to take control of what happens next.

The other half of finding out what you want to do is acting on your intuition, quickly and with conviction.


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This has become more apparent the longer I’ve been in the workforce, as I regularly talk to people that are in jobs they know they don’t fit into. Unfortunately, most of these people pull up short of the most important and decisive step; doing something about it.

Because, while realising the need for change is a crucial part of finding out what you want to do, to get there you need to start moving.

Stop coming to work with an eye on the clock. Stop burying yourself in distractions to water down weekdays. Stop bitching about the boss or your bulging workload. Stop comparing yourself to others and make a decision that moves you closer to where you want to be.

Finding out what you want to do takes time, partly because you don’t know what it is until you’ve found it, and partly because it’s a constantly moving target. To get close you need to recognise when it’s time to move on and act quickly and confidently.

Because the higher you climb a corporate ladder you don’t want to be on, the harder it is to get down. So if the time comes, recognise that you need to jump. And jump early.

Image: rekre89, via Flickr