Career Advice Tuesday – “Know Thyself…”

March 30, 2010

Dear Mike & Lee,

My question is simple – How do you figure out exactly what you want?


Have you ever had a time when you knew you were hungry and you went to the kitchen and, despite having a well-stocked fridge and cupboards full of food, you couldn’t figure out what you wanted to eat?

Yeah, us too.

This is something that happens to everyone at some point in time… we all run into the “what do I want?” question from time to time.

Unfortunately, telling you how to fix this is often going to be much harder than just helping you fix it. Because you generally can’t think your way out of the “what do I want?” problem. It’s often the case that if you’re standing in the kitchen swinging the refrigerator door, asking yourself “what do I want?” over and over again, that the best solution is to walk out of the kitchen and take your mind off of the problem for a few minutes. Or prime your brain to do the right thing by reading a few recipes or articles on food and cooking.

The same process applies to your career. There are ways to prime yourself to make that next step and know a little bit more about yourself. (Mike actually wrote an entire 130-page e-book about that process)

While we don’t have the time or space to detail all of those exercises here, let’s talk through one quickly (and feel free to ask us if you have questions about the process).

Exercise: Common Elements

Write the following two lists:

  • What are five things that I really love to do?
  • What are five things that I am really good at?

Now, take those lists and make another list of all the activities that are similar about the things on your list. What are the common themes? For example, if “speaking to an audience” and “writing blog entries” are on your list (as they are on ours), there are numerous commonalities:

  • You may enjoy putting out content to an audience.
  • You may enjoy expressing your opinions publicly.
  • And many, many more…

Once you have thought through all of the commonalities (and, again, if you’re having trouble, send us your questions), you should probably have a list of 10-20 items that are common among the things on your initial two lists.

Now… brainstorm all of the jobs that are in your field that would have many/most/all of those opportunities.

That’s but one exercise of a whole pile that you could do that would help you find what you’re looking for while you’re standing at the refrigerator. Hopefully, it helps spark some new ideas and new thoughts…

Lee & Mike

Posted by mmurray | Filed Under Career Advice Tuesday, Planning 


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