We are all raised being told who we ought to be, what we ought to do and ultimately become a reflection of someone else or as per the expectations of the society at large.
I am a victim of this myself. I choose a college major based on what was popular then, a masters degree just because my father said so and a career path that was pretty much an end to the choices I had not made. Hence, if experience has taught me anything it is to first know yourself better, that will ultimately lead you to choose a suitable career path.
No one can claim that they have figured themselves out completely. It is an ongoing process, one that will change with time and as we grow through life. So how do we get to know ourselves better? I was on a career break a while back and I decided to use that time to explore myself and truly get in touch with the person I am. These five questions helped me to know myself better. Hope it helps you too.
Four questions to find yourself and your fitting career:
Q1. What activities make you happy?
An important part of finding yourself includes finding out what you enjoy doing. All of us have some things that bring us immense joy. It could be playing a sport, a hobby, helping others or simply being surrounded by family and friends. It does not have to be a groundbreaking activity or one that will define your career right away. Start by getting to know what you like doing. We usually use our high school and college years to participate in different activities to figure out our inborn talents, gifts, and interests, but like me, if you are in your 30’s figuring out yourself, worry not. It’s never too late to begin, just start somewhere.
For example, I love reading but I am afraid of public speaking. So I joined a book club, started attending it regularly and am going to push myself to someday present a book. That does not directly add to my next big career move, but knowing my fear and weakness, and working upon them in a non-threatening environment, gives me a sense of courage, pride, and achievement. Use the spare time you have to explore things you always wanted to do, but never did and find out what you may be actually good at.
Q2. What are some of the non-negotiables in life for you?
While it may be easy to focus on what we like to do, its harder to define the things that we don’t like. Knowing your non-negotiables form an essential part to choose the right career and role for yourself. For example, lying, fibbing and being ruthless are my non-negotiables. So I clearly won’t last too long in a role or a cut-throat workplace, where such is the demand for the job to get done. I would look for a more streamlined and process-driven organization that would give me a framework within which I can work. That is just me.
There are many who enjoy the adrenaline rush, competitiveness, and aggressive workplace and those are good too. Your values, upbringing, culture, and origins are some factors that will play a part in shaping your personality and that define your non-negotiables. Hence, knowing your dislikes and things you cannot tolerate, will make your life easier while choosing a suitable career and workplace for yourself.
Q3. What motivates you?
Everyone has a motive to wake up each morning. This could be their work, family, children, money or just a sense of duty, either way, there is always a reason behind what we do. Then don’t you think we should find out what drives us and then apply that to figure out our career choices? There many motivations for us to have a job, salary, success, good culture and work environment and the likes. What may work for others, may not be true for you.
For many years, I was told to take up jobs that were well paying and just ignore other things like politics, toxic work environment or bosses. But money was never my motivation to work. It was appreciation and encouragement, that made me push myself to do better. I did not realize this at the time, but in retrospect, this always remains my major factor when I am looking for a job change, a new career path or making the best in my current workplace.
Ask yourself some hard questions, do you work better under pressure or like things well planned out or do you need a supportive work environment or you are self-driven? Figuring out what motivates you is a healthy activity as it defines your life choices and eventually its impact on your life. Hence, it well worth pondering upon.
Q4. What is the reason you do what you do?
Our life experiences ultimately shape the person we become. Sometimes we behave in a manner or get upset about trivial things, not because of who we are, but who we have become.
If we have had broken relationships as we were growing up, we will find it hard to trust people even today. If we were isolated, ignored and aloof while young, we will find it hard to make friends. We carry all this with us to our workplace, career choices and life decisions, and hence, our actions do not define us. Some of these things we do subconsciously and mostly out of habit.
So, if we find out the behavior pattern and try to find the links from our past experiences, it can be helpful to truly unveil who we are. Sometimes journaling, talking to family and friends and consciously working on changing those habits can help us get a step closer to who we truly are.
These questions are only the beginning to a journey that you will tread on to unravel the mysteries of yourself. I urge you to devote some time to figure yourself out, to know who you truly are instead of who you have allowed yourself to become over the years.
You may also want to read other article written by the same author ‘Career tracking while on a career break‘, ‘Career restarting for a woman on a career break‘, ‘Is returnship right for you?‘, ‘Five things to consider before a career break‘, ‘5 reasons why working moms are highly productive‘.
About the author:
The first time Susan Kutar (Tamang) realized that words could touch lives, she wanted to be a writer and blogger. She has 7 years of experience in Human Resources and Talent Acquisition. She likes to write about topics that impact people, which is educational and leaves the reader with something to mull over.
(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)
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