Originally published in the Huffington Post.
BY Crystal Marsh
Many of the clients that I work with are seeking greater clarity around what their purpose in the work force might be. Most of them come to me saying that they have no idea what they want to do or are meant to do, but with a bit of digging, I find that they actually do have some hints that they hadn't realized. One of the easiest ways to identify these hints is to think about what you enjoy doing most outside of the office. Ask yourself:
What activities do I take part in that make the time fly by?
What can I do for hours on end that makes it feel like only minutes have passed?
Once you've got your list of activities that make the hours feel like mere minutes, it's time to take a look at what characteristics those activities involve, and the qualities that you possess while doing them.
What do I mean by that? For example, take my client Alyssa, who absolutely loves to travel.
The qualities that she would express through traveling were adventure, variety and even organization, since she loved to spend time creating thorough itineraries for each of her trips. Traveling also involved spontaneity for Alyssa, since she would sometimes veer off her carefully planned itinerary in favor of something that seemed more interesting. In doing so, she was experiencing a combination of freedom and structure, action and activity. She was exploring new places and interacting with new people. She was showing sensitivity in dealing with other cultures, honing her people skills and expanding her ability to connect and learn.
Based on the things that she most loved about traveling, I suggested that Alyssa speak with a high-end travel consultant. At the time, she was working in the corporate world and earning a six-figure salary. The only roles Alyssa was familiar with that would so intimately involve her love of traveling were careers as a travel agent, travel blogger or writer -- none of which appealed to her. I recommended that she look into high-end travel consulting -- a position she had never heard of.
It didn't take Alyssa long to find several high-end travel consulting boutiques that offered the services I had mentioned to her. Alyssa reached out to these companies requesting informational interviews. After speaking with several people, she realized that although it was going to take a huge amount of dedication and self-motivation to establish herself in this new field, this job would encompass all of the elements she most enjoyed doing -- and it held huge potential for financial success as well. Alyssa had never imagined that a job that existed where she could earn a good salary while doing the things she loved most.
Alyssa got to spend a great deal of time traveling and exploring different places so that she could give detailed and accurate information on these destinations to her clients. She also had the opportunity to use her people skills. Being able to deal with different personalities, expressing sensitivity to people's differences and having a certain amount of flexibility were all a benefit to her in this role.
The moral of this story? Even if you don't know what the exact title of you dream job might be, you can still use the elements you imagine it would encompass and begin to search. Once you have a couple of ideas, the key is to find some people who are doing that job, and ask them what the job actually entails on a practical level.
Some jobs seem much more fun and glamorous than they actually are. It's important to find out what this role actually involves day to day before deciding to make the switch -- from people who are currently working in that role. What part of the job do they most enjoy? Least enjoy? What has allowed them to find success?
When you're trying to find purposeful work, it's important to think a bit outside of the box. Of course, there are many traditional career paths available, but the work that might be the most purposeful and meaningful for you may be a bit off the beaten path. Taking the opportunity to really think about what you want to do, and then finding out if that job already exists can be a great starting place for many.