Sound like a lot of time? That’s because it is. Those figures represent how long the average American will work in their lifetime, and it equates to about 1/3 of their life in total.
It’s also too much time to spend at a job that you hate.
Given that work consumes much of our lives, it’s essential to find something that doesn’t make you miserable. The angst carried from your job can transfer to other parts of your life (like relationships and health), producing profoundly negative effects .
So, what can you do to avoid feeling stuck at a horrible job? The first step to finding a position you love and building a meaningful career with you. You’ll need to look inward and ask yourself important questions about the work-life balance you want to achieve.
A little self-reflection can go a long way
Defining your perfect job begins with looking at yourself, your preferences, and your goals. You want to find a match that’s a good fit for your career now and in the future. As you figure out the best path, take into account your personality type. Think about your interests, hobbies, values, and how your personality traits could relate to the execution of different job roles.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Do you want to dedicate your life fighting for a cause? Dig deep when asking yourself questions to boost your self-awareness. With a clear understanding of your lifestyle priorities, you can open the doors to opportunities you might not have considered.
Not sure where to start? While they won’t give you every answer you’re looking for, personality and career tests can give you an initial sense of your strengths, weaknesses, and potential careers you could fit into. Popular options include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), Predictive Index (PI), and the MAPP Career Test.
Type of work
Discovering the type of work that best suits you doesn’t necessarily mean finding a specific job. It means figuring out which job traits you’re passionate about and identifying positions that translate. From location to income and beyond, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a job. Think about what drives you. Everyone’s situation is different, so maximize your job search to connect to opportunities aligned with your skills and values.
Are you a problem-solver or critical thinker? Look for clues in projects or topics that sparked inspiration and motivated you. Explore the reasons why certain activities brought joy. Here are some questions you might ask yourself during this process to better understand how you work best:
- Do you want to work with your hands or with customers?
- Would you prefer working on individual tasks or together with a team?
- What did your past jobs teach you?
- Is there something you do in your spare time that you enjoy?
- What skills do you need?
Your ideal working environment
Not all workplaces are created equal. Even if you find a job you like but the environment is wrong, the chances of you staying for a long time are slim. That’s why determining what type of work environment you’d thrive in is critical. Do you enjoy the hectic, controlled chaos of the production line, or are you more of an office person? Some people can’t get on board with sitting at a desk while others are more comfortable inside the workspace.
From a social and physical aspect, think about the previous places you’ve worked. Decipher what the similarities and differences are between them. Which workplace felt most productive, and which did you enjoy overall? Knowing your ideal work environment will make it easier to predict the best opportunities to apply for and accept the right job offer when presented.
Another step for finding that dream job is to network. Networking with someone in your field or a position you’re leaning towards pursuing can be a great source of support and information. It may seem intimidating to engage in conversation with people you don’t know. Start by reaching out to friends and family who might have experience or connections in the industry. Taking the initiative to establish relationships enables you to gain knowledge, get exposure, and build confidence by pushing yourself to go out of your comfort zone.
During your journey to finding the job you love, always be learning. Take advantage of online courses to hone your skills or develop new ones required for certain positions. Education is a life-long process, so there’s something new to learn every day. We live in a digital age, providing us with a slew of platforms offering free or inexpensive online courses, such as Udemy, HubSpot Academy, and Skillshare. Being a continuous learner can broaden horizons, boost brain activity, encourage self-development, and might even inspire you to teach others your newly found knowledge.
Once you’ve defined and found that perfect job, learn about the company looking to hire. Take the time to visit their website and search for news about the company online. During the interview, ask questions about the company to get a feel for their culture and day-to-day work environment, like how they exchange feedback, about the team, and even the interviewer’s experience for personal insight. Doing your research before the interview demonstrates interest, increases your confidence, and ensures potential employers align with your values. As you come to identify your dream job, keep your Linkedin page, portfolio, and other career documents updated to maintain a polished and current personal brand optimized for the job you’ll love.