How to Figure Out What You Want to Do

by McKenzie Chapman   Ulticareer  | Goals  | Job search  | Advice  | Opportunity  | New perspective  | Life lesson  | Career decision  | Choose happiness  | Job satisfaction  | Career advancement  | Inspiration  | 

UltiCareer was created to help you answer the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we’re children, we have fun answers to these questions like “princess” or “secret agent.” As adults, we know the truth is there isn’t an answer to this question, or rather, no singular answer.

People are complicated and have many interests. It can be difficult to know what you want to do for a job every day. The answer to this question will change throughout your life. If you’re not sure where to start, read about what different careers are like on UltiCareer and ask yourself the following questions to help narrow it down.

1. Reflect on what you like doing, even when it kind of sucks

Every job will have aspects of it that you don’t enjoy. But what do you love despite the parts you dislike? What are you so passionate about that you don’t mind filing paperwork for it, or a long commute? Reflect on the activities you’ve most enjoyed throughout your life and think about careers that will allow you to do that.

2. What are your skills?

What are you good at? Make a list of everything you do well. If you’re having trouble, ask your friends and family to contribute. It can be hard to make a list of your skills by yourself. A friend or family member can often help point out things you would have missed. When you have a list of skills, think about which of those skills you enjoy the most and how the skills can be applied in practical work purposes.

3. Think about whom you admire

Who is your role model? Why do you respect them? Try to determine what steps they’ve taken to reach their goals. If possible, talk to them! Your journey will never be the same as theirs, but if you can gain insight about your own choices from their experience, it can help you on your way!

4. How can you make a positive impact on the world, or even just your neighbors?

Think about how you can help bring happiness to others. How can you make a difference in your community? Although it may sound like a cliché, it’s important that you do something that can make a positive impact. The more good you do for others, the more you’ll find yourself feeling a sense of fulfillment.

5. Talk to people in the job

If you have a few ideas of what you may want to do, but you’re not quite sure about them, talk to people who have the job! There’s nothing more helpful than hearing about what a job is really like firsthand. Talk to a few people, if you can, to get an idea of what the industry, job, and position is like, and learn how to get there.

6. Ask yourself how you can spend your time in a way that makes you feel accomplished

What makes you feel satisfied and confident? What activities do you do that give you a sense of pride? Think about how it feels to complete a special project. Is there a way you can monetize that project? 

7. What do you care about? What are your values?

What are your core values? Try writing a personal manifesto, or just try listing what’s really important to you. What do you want to get out of life? If a solid career idea comes out of this list, that’s great! If not, you can still use the knowledge of your values to guide you toward a career path that aligns with these values and helps you practice them.

8. Consider your life from the end of it

How do you want to leave this world? If you knew you were going to die in a year, what would you want to accomplish in your final months? This shift in perspective can help you narrow down options. You will probably find you’re passionate about a variety of different things. But when the stakes are raised, you can weed out interests that may only be temporary fancies.

9. What challenges you, and excites you

No one is perfect at anything, and if you try to pick a career just because it’s easy, or because you’re good at it, this is likely to backfire. Try to think about which challenges you’d like to face, and what type of skills you’d like to hone and continue to learn. If you can keep the flame kindled even when you’re challenged, then that’s the career path for you.

10. Accept that you’ll fail, and that you’ll need to experiment

You can’t let the fear of choosing a path prevent you from forging one. Instead, embrace the fact that you will inevitably fail, and finding a good fit will be a lifelong endeavor. You’ll need to continue to experiment with different careers and jobs throughout your life. You will grow, and your interests and career objectives will grow with you.

11. Test the waters

You don’t have to dive head first into a career. First, try volunteering, interning, or a job shadow. When you dip your toe in first, you can see if this is the right path for you.

12. What can you lose yourself in?

What is something you can do for hours without noticing the time passing? Whatever this may be, it can be a valuable sign that you would enjoy it as a career or as an aspect of a career.

You’ll be working on figuring out what you want for the rest of your life. Your dreams will evolve as you do. There will never be a single answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But you have to start somewhere! Ask yourself about your values, skills, and what you enjoy, and you have a place to start looking for a career that fits for you.

What’s your career like? Share your experience on UltiCareer to help people who are in the process of answering the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” get to know what your type of job is really like. 

on UltiCareer to help others on their job search, get to know what your type of job is really like.

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