Don’t Know What You Want To Do?

I've been there.  You feel pressured to move forward, but you're stuck.  You don't know want to do. There's a lot on the line because making a good career choice affects your future happiness - but how can you figure it out?

I’ve taken many career tests in my life - found them interesting but not very helpful.  I got bits of insight regarding my preferences, but they didn’t give me a clear career direction.  I wanted more than just a job where I could apply my skills;  I wanted career fulfillment. 

Identifying your top “Deeply Embedded Life Interests (DELI)” is a good starting point to find your direction.   These are enduring motivational drivers that crave expression.  Your happiness depends upon them unless you meet your needs in other areas of your life. 

Dr. Timothy Butler, a Harvard University career expert, proposed ten major DELI career themes:

  • Engineer, Application of Technology - likes technology and figuring out how things work
  • Number Cruncher, Quantitative Analysis - likes using math to understand the world better
  • Professor, Theory Development and Conceptual Thinking - likes learning ideas, investigating issues and analyzing what they find
  • Artist, Creative Production - likes to come up with ideas to create and design projects, products, services, etc.
  • Coach, Counseling and Mentoring - likes to support people to make a difference in their lives and are often fascinated with psychology.
  • Team Leader, Managing People and Relationships - likes to lead people to accomplish organizational goals
  • Boss, Enterprise Control - likes to make decisions and lead the operations of an organization
  • Persuader, Influence Through Language and Ideas - likes to influence and persuade through language; most likely have strong communication skills
  • Action Hero, Hands-on Problem Solving - likes to solve practical problems to produce results; often like working with tools and equipment and may prefer to be outdoors
  • Organizer, Ordering Information - likes creating structure to organize procedures and attending to details

If you can’t readily identify your preferred themes, you can do the 100 jobs exercise located at Determine Your Top Career Themes  and identify the top 12 jobs that are most appealing to you, based on your level of excitement regardless of your current knowledge or skill.  Then you can highlight the rows you chose and add up the column totals to find your highest interest career themes. 

If you identify another theme in your life that’s not already included in the list, then you can add it.

It’s possible that one theme will really stand out, but look for the combination of your top two (or even three) to narrow your focus so you can brainstorm suitable possibilities.  For example, what would it mean if you were high on….?:

  • Quantitative Analysis plus Application of Technology - using numbers to work on things such as products or operations
  • Theory Development and Conceptual Thinking plus Quantitative Analysis - analytical thinking
  • Theory Development and Conceptual Thinking plus Creative Production - theoretical or visionary thinking
  • Application of Technology plus Managing People and Relationships - experts who lead the activities of others
  • Enterprise Control plus Influence Through Language and Ideas - inspiring leaders
  • Quantitative analysis plus Theory Development and Conceptual Thinking - using numbers with ideas
  • Theory Development and Conceptual Thinking plus Enterprise Control - conceive the vision to start things such as new services, programs, businesses, etc.
  • Managing People and Relationships plus Counseling and Mentoring - people-oriented work such as in human resources, training and development, people services, etc.
  • Quantitative Analysis and Managing People and Relationships - using numbers, such as metrics, to analyze effectiveness
  • Enterprise Control plus Managing People and Relationships - run businesses and manage people

The combination of your “Deeply Embedded Life Interests” is a foundation you can build upon as you consider your other desires, such as the subject matter you’d like to use, the ultimate purpose of your activities, the people you like to be around, how you want to relate to people, the kind of work contexts that would align with your values and work preferences, etc.

Remember your motivational drivers seek expression, so you’ll feel frustrated if you don’t get to use them.  Start with them.  Note where you can apply them in your current situation to experiment and get feedback regarding what you need and want in your work.   

Clarity is the beginning - when you know what you want, you can narrow your focus to opportunities that are right for you.  To your happiness! 

READ NOWThe 7-Step Strategy I Use To Help Military Veterans Create the Career (or Business) Of Their Dreams

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