Are you having trouble deciding which career to pursue or switch to? Are you unclear about which area you want to specialize in? It’s common to spin your wheels in confusion about how to find your true callings and passions. So here are three tips for getting the clarity you need to make these decisions.
1. Clarity comes from engagement, not from thought.
We often think that “thinking” about a decision will bring us clarity and lead us to the “right” or “best” choice. However, “thinking about it” is usually futile. The reason is you never know what something will be like until you experience it. School, college, moving, getting married, starting or ending a relationship, changing careers … it’s hard to really know what these experiences will be like until you have a taste of them. So, whenever possible, try to engage rather than think. When you engage as opposed to think about an activity, you’ll get the data you need to decide. You’ll also be surprised by what you discover when you actually engage in an activity as opposed to think about it.
That said, it’s not easy to engage. Most people are afraid to engage because it’s more comfortable than staying in “thinking about it” mode. So try to remember: acting, even if it’s just a small action, leads you a step closer to clarity. Thought, on the other hand, does nothing to gain clarity. For example, engaging in the act of snowboarding will give you way more information about whether you want to be a snowboarder than reading a book on snowboarding ever will.
2. Making small decisions will help you gain clarity around big decisions.
A small decision could look like this: First, choose three careers you might be interested in pursuing or switching to, or three areas you’d like to major in or specialize in. Second, make a commitment to speak to three people, one in each area. Third, schedule to meet with each and ask them specific questions about their current role/area of specialization and what a day in their life is like.
Notice how different this is from, say, reading a book or researching online, because you can ask very specific questions and get very detailed answers. For example, if you want to move into event management, you could ask someone who works in the field: How much time do you spend on budgeting, procurement, logistics, traveling, engaging other people, etc.? By asking questions, you start to gain a clearer picture of whether you would enjoy these activities based on things you’ve enjoyed in the past and what you know about yourself.
3. Clarity is gained when remembering that your decision doesn’t have to be final.
When you keep in mind that your decision never has to be final, you’ll be freer to make a decision. There isn’t a rule that says once you make a decision you’re stuck with it for life. But for some reason, we often hold this belief, thinking that our decisions have to be huge, lifelong commitments. This causes us to hesitate to make decisions, even stop making them. It’s very difficult to make a decision if you think that once you make a decision, that decision has to be “the right one,” there’s no turning back, and if it’s not “the right decision,” bad things will happen.
That line of thinking is simply not true. If it were, no one would ever change careers, and you know that people are changing careers every day. In fact, people are changing careers now more than ever in history. So do yourself a favor—and give yourself some clarity—by remembering that no decision, no matter how big, is final.
Natalie Fisher is best known for helping professionals land their dream jobs and achieve explosive salary growth (even with little experience). If you’d like to dive deeper on the topic of finding clarity in your career and life, she has prepared a no-cost workshop just for you. You can click here to sign up for this game-changing clarity workshop titled: How to Gain The Clarity You Crave in Your Life and Career (Even If You Have No Idea What You Really Want Right Now).
It has never made much sense to me that we’re born with one true calling and that we must find this one true calling and then do only those things that our one true calling calls us to do to the best of our innate abilities for the rest of our lives. And so, I was pleased to come across Emilie Wapnick’s new book How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up, which was published today and which is based on Wapnick’s wildly popular TED Talk “Why some of us don’t have one true calling.