How do you find the perfect career?
They say you need to find your passion. But passion is fickle. What happens if after 2 years you don’t enjoy what you do anymore?
They say you need to do something you’re skilled at. But just because you’re good at something, it doesn’t mean you want to spend the rest of your life doing it.
They say you need to go for a in-demand job that pays well. But why do you feel dead inside and dread going to work every Monday?
None of this advice is 100% wrong. It’s just… incomplete.
Finding the perfect career is like completing a puzzle. All the pieces – skills, values, money – must fit together. Here’s how:
Step 1: What Are You Ridiculously Good At?
This is the obvious place to start. Sure, you can always learn new skills, but that can take years. If you need a job now, you need to start with what you have.
You have skills, talents, and gifts that come easily to you. Some of them are obvious. You’re so good at them, people always ask you for help and advice.
For me, that’s writing. Whenever a friend has to polish her resume, write an official letter, or edit her website copy, I’m the one they turn to.
But other skills are trickier to identify for yourself. They’re like second nature to you, you don’t even realise they’re skills. For example, you may be so good at doing your makeup, you don’t realise other women are struggling to put on their eyeliner (I can’t get a straight line if my life depends on it. Ahem).
FYI, soft skills count, too. Like, being a good listener. Or feeling empathy towards other people’s struggles. Or having a knack for explaining complex ideas in short, easy-to-digest tidbits.
I’d argue that in today’s world, soft skills are more important than ever. Everyone can learn how to write well, but you’re more likely to get the gig if you can listen and understand a client’s requirements, manage their expectations, and have good organizational skills that allow you to meet deadlines.
So how do you find your strengths? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Ask your friends what you’re ridiculously good at
- Make a list of all the skills you’ve gained through hobbies and previous jobs
- Jot down all the certifications you have and awards you’ve won
- Take the Strengths Finder 2.0 Test
Related: How To Find Your Strengths
Step 2: What Will The World Pay You For?
Just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean someone will pay you for it. And if you don’t get paid for it, you have an hobby, not a career.
FYI, there’s nothing wrong with hobbies. If you can’t or don’t want to get paid for something you’re good at, that’s cool. We all need passions we do for sheer pleasure, without the pressure of putting food on the table and money in the bank.
But you do need money to survive. And it’s better to make that money doing something you’re good at and that you enjoy.
But you don’t get paid for your skills. You get paid based on how much the world values your skills and how many people you can help.
You have two choices here:
- You can go down the traditional path and look for job opportunities that match your skills set
- You can figure out how your skills can solve a common problem people have and start a business around it
One path isn’t better than the other. Being your own boss allows more freedom and flexibility (and, in the long run, money). But all the responsibility is on your own shoulder and your income will fluctuate from month to month (some months, you may not make any money at all – ask me how I know…).
Working for someone else gives you a set routine and a safe paycheck every month. If stability is important for you, this may be a better choice.
Step 3: What Are Your Values?
Just because you’re getting paid for doing something you’re ridiculously good at, doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it or find it fulfilling.
Take it from someone who’s been there. I few years ago, I decided to turn my writing skills into a full on career.
I knew what I was good at: writing snappy articles about all things beauty for blogs and online publications.
I knew who would value my services: small beauty business owners who need blog content to attract and convert visitors into paying clients.
It was a match made in heaven, right?
Wrong. I still loved writing, but not the articles I was commissioned to write. I wanted to educate women on what to look for in skincare products, debunk hyped marketing claims, and help them adopt good skincare habits. Honesty, education, and integrity are all values important to me.
Instead, I was asked to write about new product releases and… “I know the science isn’t there but can you write in a way that makes people think this stuff does something it doesn’t? And while you’re at it, why don’t you also mention our competitors use ‘harmful’ ingredients?”
I quickly realised a lot of people don’t care about being honest or making a good product. They just want to make as much money as possible, whatever means necessary.
That’s not how I roll. So, I quit. And then figured out how to use my writing skills in a way that honours my values – no compromises.
When you’re evaluating a job or planning to start a business based on your skills, think about this: does it respect or violates my values?
To answer that question, you first need to find your values. Here’s how:
- If you had a magic wand, what world problem would you change?
- Think of 3 people you admire. Why do you admire them?
- Find a value list online and circle the ones that are most important to you. Then, keep eliminating values until only your top 5 remain.
Need more help to tie it all together and find what you’re supposed to do with your life? Sign up to the newsletter below to download the Purpose Finder Worksheet:
Wrapping It Up
The perfect career for you lies at the intersection where your skills and values meet what the world is willing to pay you for. When you find that, you’ll have a career that’s both fun and fulfilling.
Over to you, now. What are your thoughts on finding a career that’s both enjoyable and fulfilling? Let me know in the comments below.