Struggling for Career Ideas?
Forget trying to nail down a traditional job title and try these FOUR QUESTIONS to get your more creative juices flowing.
1. WHAT DO I WANT TO DO MORE OF?
Trying to find your "ideal" job is a big ask from a standing start. And if you've not been in formal work for a few years, job titles can seem like gobbledygook. New sectors have emerged and exciting avenues are opening up. So don't start by trying to pin down the NAME of the job you want. Chances are you'll be thinking far too narrowly.
Instead get super-curious about what elements of work you want to do more of.
Think VERBS: Do you love to LEAD? CREATE? PERFORM? SHARE? CONNECT? HELP? TEACH? SOLVE? INNOVATE? EXPLORE? CURE? ADVISE? CHALLENGE? SUPPORT? DESIGN? ANALYSE? WRITE? SELL? RESEARCH? ORGANIZE? etc etc etc ....!
When you've got a list of the activities that excite you, then you can start brainstorming where you might use those.
Flesh out the picture, by thinking about how you can combine what you love doing with what you are interested in.
And you'll soon realise that there are options in any number of sectors, with all manner of clients and in a whole range of ways - anything from freelancing and volunteering, to big corporates, public sector, local SMEs, social enterprises or even setting up your own business.
2. WHO DO I LOVE TO BE AROUND?
Try shifting your focus from the WHAT of work to the WHO.
What if you were to think about the kind of people who energise and excite you (other than the Duke of Hastings, I hear he's not recruiting right now) ...
Which people do you most like hanging out with? Who are you drawn to? What sort of colleagues would bring you alive? What kind of clients would appeal to you?
Is your dream to work quietly on your own and be your own boss or to be surrounded by people? A big crowd or a small team? Data-driven geeks or creative types? Young people keen to learn or big hitters with ambitious projects? Deep thinkers or dynamic do-ers?
See what comes up for you and where the WHO takes you ...
3. WHAT PROBLEM CAN I HELP SOLVE?
What issue have you solved in your own life that others need help with too? Many great business ideas have come from founders who were frustrated with something in their lives and were forced to come up with a solution. Just Google "Sara Blakely + Spanx" or "Timo Boldt + Gousto" and you'll see what I mean!
What annoys the hell out of you that you just KNOW could be sorted if only x? Is it time to finally investigate if your idea has legs?
Now, I appreciate you might not feel like you have a multi-million pound start-up in you.
But "What problems do I help solve?" is still a great question. In other words, what do people turn to you for help with? Are you a great listener? A social media or computer guru? Do friends covet your decorating choices? Ask your advice on their finances or holiday plans? Do you write dream copy? Chair meetings like a pro?
Answering that can get you closer to your own super-strengths and generate ideas about where you might fit into the workplace jigsaw.
4. WHAT DO I WANT TO HEAR WHEN I'M 100?
Grab a piece of paper and indulge in a bit of time travel ...
It's your 100th Birthday Party, a celebration of your long and happy life.
How do you want your life described in the speeches? What are people saying about the impact you've had or the difference you've made? What kind of life and achievements do you want to be looking back on ? What would make you most proud and fulfilled? What will you regret if you haven't done it?
Be honest and don't feel any pressure. This doesn't need to involve Nobel prizes or MBEs.
Just try to connect with what's most important to you and what that's telling you about the world of work that you want to enter. Listen out for both your heart and your head. You might be surprised what comes up.
Now wasn't that a whole lot more eye-opening than simply wondering whether you'd make a good Program Manager or a Technical Solutions Engineer?