Let's say you still have no idea what you want to be when you grow up even though you're long past the playing fireman or doctor stage. In fact, maybe you have a few years of professional experience under your belt, but you feel no closer to your dream job than you did when you entered college as a clueless freshman with an undeclared major. How do you proceed?
There are a few tried-and-tested suggestions. You could research the many lists of most in-demand jobs, hottest careers for near future, etc. You could get some coaching or solicit career advice from a counselor, or take some sort of personality and skills inventory to point you in the right direction. But your most likely course of action will probably be that old standby -- bumbling around hoping you stumble on the right career. (Hey, it worked for me - no joke!)
Chris Guillebeau, author of Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do, has some more unusual suggestions. On the Quiet Revolution blog recently he spoke with Quiet author Susan Cain, offering unconventional tips for those still trying to win the career lottery (they're helpful whether you're an introvert or not). If you're still flailing around professionally, it's probably worth a read in full, but here are a few of his most powerful suggestions in brief.
1. Think about the conditions of work.
Most of us sit up at night pondering what we want to do. Guillebeau suggests you give a little more thought to where you want to do it. (He's not the only expert to suggest this.) "The way we work is just as important as the work itself. Working conditions include things such as how you prefer to spend your time, how much you like to work collaboratively versus independently, and how you like to be rewarded," Guillebeau tells Cain.
"Most people rarely think about the day-to-day ways in which they'll be spending their time when they pick a career path. They just consider the overarching big picture or the difference they seek to make. But it's really hard to keep the big picture in focus if you're hating the moment-to-moment!" Guillebeau sensibly warns.
2. Get a side hustle.
Every job you try is one more piece of data about what you like or don't like. Try more things by having a side hustle and you'll narrow in on your dream career more quickly. "A 'side hustle' is an additional income source that is separate from your paycheck. It's not a part-time job as much as it's something you create, and it's disproportionately satisfying," Cain explains before noting that Guillebeau recommends them because they "help you build confidence and security." Plus, that little bit of extra income can help you with the next tip.
3. Quit more.
"'Winners never quit' is classic advice that also turns out to be terrible advice. There's a huge difference between giving up and letting go, so if you're doing something that isn't working, you should stop," declares the post. Amen to that.
If you've had the good fortune to find your dream career, help out those who are still struggling by sharing how you figured out which path was right for you in the comments.