Thursday, May 17, 2012

Four questions to ask when you're lacking direction

 [flickr: pursuethepassion]

Like I mentioned last month in my freelance update, I've been thinking a lot about direction. Specifically, I've been focusing on a few questions (and some list-making) to help me along, and boy, has it helped! Here's what I've been mulling over.

What are you passionate about?
What gets your goat? This isn't quite the same as "what do you love?" (for example, one can be passionate about addressing poverty, but it'd be weird to call it "love"), but also any issues or industries that really get you fired up, angry or excited. It can be as exciting as rocket science or as seemingly mundane as accounting. I also wouldn't choose just one thing...write down a few.

What are you good at?
Let's be realistic: I'm not good at everything and neither are you. Heck, I'm not even good at the things I love sometimes (my dust-covered guitar can tell you that much). Write your strengths down. Now look at your passion list: how do your strengths fit into your passion industries? If you don't know enough about your passions, find out more. A lot of times it's just finding the right company or organization to rekindle your passion and set you in the right direction. Make a list of career options that combine your passion and skill.

Where do you want to be?
This could be a specific location, a specific job position, or a specific industry. It may help to break it down into bite-size time goals, for example, I want to be in x position within 5 years and at x point in my career 15 years from now. This could also include lifestyle choices, such as if you want the flexibility to stay at home part time with children or the freedom and budget to travel to your heart's desire. Compare this to your list of career options...which careers on this list will help you get there?

How do you get there?
Though you may realize where you currently are is not helping you get where you want to be, don't jump just yet. Where do you need to be to get there, and how do you get to that starting point? It could mean picking up a few new skills on your personal time, or just starting to look for that perfect job. Make a plan and a timeline for getting on track.

The issue I often deal with is narrowing down my passions. I'm easily excitable and enthusiastic. The question that helps me most is "Where do you want to be?" My list may be slightly long, but over the past few weeks I've prioritized it so that I can work toward the goal and still have some fallback options.

How did you find your career direction? Any other questions that should be considered?


  1. Great post! It's also a good idea to look at the resources and contacts around you. Sometimes there's a opportunity that isn't exactly what you're looking for, but can be used as a great jumping off place to figure out where to go next.

    1. Thanks, Emily! That's a great point...sometimes a starting point is closer than you think, even if it is slightly unconventional.

  2. This is good stuff! I can relate to loving something I'm not good at (like singing). You're so right about focusing on where you want to be and what steps you need to take to get there. Having a goal helps me sort out my scattered interests, like "Is this getting me to my goal?"

  3. Best Advice I have heard all month!

  4. Great advice Angeline! Even though I've been told to write out future goals and such before, you've really broken things down into manageable questions. I'm reading this at a time when I'm at a career crossroads of sorts, so I found this to be very helpful indeed!

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! Wishing you all the best in your decisions. And sometimes it takes a few tries before you figure out what it is that you really want to do (I know it did for me).


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