Choosing a Job or Career When You Don't Know What To Do

By: Anna Johnson


One of the toughest choices you're bound to confront throughout your career is what job or career choice is right for you?

So in an effort to help you find the "ideal" job or career you may ask yourself, "what do I want to do?" But that question may do more harm than good. In truth, asking "what do I want to do?" may not really assist you. You may find that the question is just plain unanswerable - because there is no one answer, or there are just too many answers, or because it presupposes some kind of commitment to an answer that you're unwilling or unable to make.

If you find it difficult to answer the question of what you want to do, then I recommend you forget about even trying... and instead focus on an alternative question: "what do I want to learn?" So... why not get some paper and a pen and start listing all the work-related things you'd like to learn. Your next step is to rewrite or rearrange the list of items from "most important" to "least important". After you've done that, consider which jobs or careers will satisfy your need to learn these things, in that order or priority. Or at least which will enable you to develop your "high priority" knowledge and skills in the next year or so?"

Now don't think that any single job - or even company - will necessarily teach you everything you want to learn in the order you want to learn it. It may be more realistic to think in terms of planning to change jobs, careers or organizations. And, of course, what you want to learn may change also - and that's completely fine! As part of your career management, I suggest you revise your list a couple of times per year.

But, for now at list, your list of items indicates which careers and jobs are likely to teach you what you want to know, and thereby provides a great guide for making your next job or career move.

Now, the assumption behind this process is that what you want to learn is the best indicator of your next career move... and will ultimately help you find the right job(s) or career(s) (remembering that there might be more than one "right" job or career over the course of your professional life). However, I think it's a fair assumption to make when it's a matter of making the leap from unsatisfying work to a truly rewarding job or career.

Therefore, stop trying to find an answer to the question of what you want to do. Go through the fun exercise above and let your answers as to what you want to learn guide you towards the right job(s) and/or career(s) for you.

2007 Anna Johnson. All Rights Reserved.