Finding a Fulfilling Career
Hey Taylor – I’m in between jobs and trying to find some direction. People tell me to find something that suits my strengths, but I always second guess what I’m good at. How do I figure out what I do well without just being unrealistically confident? - Elsie
Hey Elsie - It’s hard to manufacture confidence, and that’s something overlooked when people are searching for direction. Until you feel confident about what you’re doing, you won’t know if you’re playing to your strengths or not. Meanwhile, that confidence isn’t going to come until you have experience.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to assess whether or not you’re good at something. The most important factor to watch for is your excitement level. If you feel passionate while doing the work, even when the work isn’t great, you’re showing a significant strength. It might not be evident in the results, but staying excited and persevering is a talent in and of itself.
The question then becomes will this passion and perseverance lead to a career? This is where many people have a hard time making their strengths fit into a job title. You might be really fascinated by certain elements of web design and photo editing, but you don’t know if you should be a designer or an editor or an animator.
The solution is to ignore the moniker. Not every job will fit all of your strengths, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong for the position. Every career will come with a learning curve; you should expect to learn on the job while letting your best abilities serve as an entry point. Don’t search for a named role within a company, and instead look for any place where you can work on something that interests you.
Remember, strengths don’t have to be specific trades like accounting or welding. Listening, problem solving, organizing and communicating are all valuable assets employers look for. I know plenty of people who have landed jobs they initially thought they weren’t qualified for, but they were hired because they had personality traits and skills that can’t really be taught.
So, what do you like to do? When you’re doing that thing or those things, what makes you feel confident about your effort, and what keeps you engaged in the activity? Even if you start by focusing on a leisurely task like reading or gardening, there are still strengths on display. Your love of fantasy novels might not feel like it translates directly to a marketable skill, but it’s not as far off as you think.
We’re typically the best at things we like to do, and that’s where you should start. Consider jobs from your past that have given you moments of excitement, and think about why that was. Eventually, you’ll be able to align your passions and be a few steps away from a great career. Good luck!