Stuck For Ideas? 3 Lateral Solutions To Find Your Dream Career
Stuck For Ideas? When it comes to figuring out what particular career is right for you, there’s a huge number of tools on offer. Whether it’s the kind of career-aptitude tests we all did at school (that often turned out slightly odd results), or the recommended career paths for the subjects we take for our degrees; whether or not you read through every leaflet your university careers service has to offer, or you just make a list of pros and cons for each opportunity – there’s plenty of tried and tested methods to narrow down your options. But what if the standard approaches aren’t yielding results? What then?
Here are three more methods you can try. Each one approaches the issue of looking for a job from a slightly lateral direction. Rather than attempting to work out which job you might like directly, these exercises each go a little deeper – prompting you to reflect on the kind of person you are, and your basic dispositions and aspirations. Sometimes, our true preferences elude our conscious awareness, and at times like this it can be really useful to look at various proxies that point to what those preferences might be.
1. Stuck For Ideas? – Connect with your inner child
A big part of being a kid is playing games of pretend – and these games often involve imitating adults. Most children have some idea of what they want to do when they are older, and this can be expressed in their play. What did you want to be when you grew up, when you were 8 years old? What did you spend your playtime doing? The basic features of our personality are laid down within the first few months of birth, and so what we said and did as kids can reveal fundamental aspirations and desires that will remain consistent throughout our lives. If you spent hours wishing you were an astronaut, ask yourself – what was it that drew you to that role? Was it a love of exploration, courage being a basic value for you, or the subject of space itself? How might you select a career based on this?
2. Stuck For Ideas? – Find your happy place
All of us have places that makes us feel comfortable, content, and inspired, while other environments make us uncomfortable and set us on edge. Just close your eyes, and in your minds-eye, imagine the perfect environment in which to work. Do you prefer that place to be noisy, or quiet? Relaxed or formal? Are you working on your own, or with others? Is it in a city, in a small town, or in the countryside? What is the atmosphere like? What kind of tasks are going on there? Try not to over-complicate this or second-guess yourself. Just see what comes.
Different kinds of work take place in different kinds of places. If your happy place is a bustling coffee shop, it could be that you are being called to work in a creative field as a freelancer; but if you’d prefer to work with other people in a more professional environment, it could be that an office job is more your style.
3. Stuck For Ideas? – Take a gamble
If you’re seriously stuck for ideas, it might be worth picking a career choice at random. Buy some blank cards, and write one potential job on each of them. Shuffle the cards, and pick one at random.
This might seem like a bit like giving up, but the true beauty of this technique is revealed if you reflect on how you feel about the option that you picked. Does it make you feel happy and relieved, or sad? Does your attention drift to another one of the options before you? If so, which one? This can be a great way of figuring out where your heart truly lies; if you pick an option at random, and it feels like the “wrong” one, then it’s often this feeling of frustration that causes your true preference to emerge.