My job is to help people who know they’re not in the right career path to pursue a process of learning and reflection in order to confidently figure out which career path they will truly enjoy.
In my time doing this, I love when I meet people who are in the rare but wonderful circumstance to in fact pursue the career of their dreams.
While, again, this is a rare occurrence (15% of employees globally are engaged in their work according to Gallup), I’ve noticed some patterns along the way for those who are in this fortunate path, listed below.
I usually see a combination of the below things playing out throughout the person’s life in tandem or over the course of time, rather than any one thing being the ultimate source for realizing their dream path.
- Deep-seated drive — This is often due to having a strong role model that one is struck by and chooses to actively follow so much so that the role model becomes a consistent source of motivation. Alternatively, the way someone grew up including the values they were taught and/or the values they emulated from their parents is a huge driver of their work ethic and how they approach their professional choices.
- Openness to figuring it out / Self-Awareness — This sounds obvious but oftentimes people don’t allow themselves to actively explore their ideal path. When I see people noticing, observing, and becoming aware of their natural strengths throughout their lifetime, it is quite helpful in actively figuring out your place in the world. Most of all, a very interesting tool is to consistently listen to others' reactions to you. Notice times when you help others and see how they react — what were you helping them with? What do people come to you for advice or help with? When have you had a positive impact on others? This also involves a sense of self-awareness to know where you do belong and also where you don’t. It’s a sense of knowing what you’re naturally great at and also what you’ll never be great at. The more you can be honest with yourself about these things, the quicker you can double down on the paths that might be optimal for you and spend less time worrying about paths that will never be right for you.
- Being in a supportive environment — This means that the person had support from those around them to be open to various career options. It means that they felt supported enough to explore their interests and their potential. This plays out in how others support your decision making when those critical decision points show up in your life. Oftentimes, we’re our own worst enemy in supporting our own ability to be open, but that plays out in pattern number four, below.
- Courage and Vulnerability — These people are willing to try and fail. They are willing to be vulnerable to admit when they don’t know what’s next for them. They are willing to be vulnerable to admit their truest passions despite others’ reactions or potential judgments. They are willing to do things that they know may seem “out there” or “risky” to others, but something that they know to be true and best for themselves, deep down.
- Patience+Persistence — These individuals know that their journey may not be easy or a quick road to success, but they are willing to both be patient with themselves as well as persist in their ability to reach their goals. They trust themselves and that their work ethic and drive will take them where they need to go. Simultaneously, they put in the necessary time and effort to learn what it will take and then they hustle and push inch by inch until they reach their goals.
- Optimism and Confidence — In order to pursue a path that may have a longer or bigger vision, these individuals usually have a high sense of optimism and the confidence that they’ll “get there” and achieve this vision, one way or another.
- Passion based on a problem — This requires first the self-awareness and self-reflection mentioned above, but in order to figure out your ideal path, you have to figure out what you care about. I see folks who have personally experienced or witnessed an issue who become extremely driven to solve those issues for others. Oftentimes I see an interesting pattern where folks combine two or three passions into one. After a few years of exploring one’s interests and uncovering a few areas of interest, I see individuals who find a connection or intersection where their interests can interplay together in a streamlined manner. That is usually when I see a real “aha” moment, lighting up an individual to clarify and crystallize their purpose.
For those who are still figuring out their ideal path, I hope this gives you some insight into the mindset you can adopt to get where you know you’re destined to go. Remember, the journey may take some time, but with the right intentions, you can absolutely find clarity in which path will make you happy every single day.
What are your thoughts? Do you see anyone in their dream job that got there due to any other skills or values? I’d love to hear about your experiences & your questions. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out more about our career exploration platform here.