High school – when we were asked to make one of the biggest decisions of our lives…
High school… Years of friendships, fun and frivolous behaviours (with serious study sessions, of course!). For most of us, we went through those years making decisions based on the ‘here and now’, with impacts largely short lived. Then suddenly, came the last year of high school when we were asked to make one of the biggest decisions of our lives: what will I want to be when I grow up?
In the ‘old’ days, school reports held the answer. My dad was good in biology and chemistry, so the school’s career advisor said he should study biochemistry. Luckily, the technique evolved by the time I was due for my own big decision. I had the whole gamut of profiling tools which matched my interests, personality and skills, combined with endless research into available careers.
Despite this in-depth soul searching and life demystifying, it seems like the answer that’s meant to fulfil our professional ambitions is sometimes not as lasting as the years we’ve spent looking for it.
I was chatting to a friend who is about eight years into her career when she admitted: “I thought I knew what I was passionate about at the beginning of my career, but I have since become jaded. I just want to feel passionate about my job and enjoy it while I’m making money. Is that so much to ask???”
I went through a similar re-evaluation of my career last year with the support of my mentor who suggested I’d do a very interesting (and somewhat eye-opening) exercise to help me find yet again that lost burning flame. The exercise went as follows:
- List all the things that have brought you or bring you lasting pride and pleasure (they can be small or big things like fond memories from your childhood, projects or achievements, etc.)
- Ask family members , close friends and colleagues to list the things they believe bring you pride and pleasure
- Look for patterns – What themes are coming back? What do they tell about yourself?
Although our behaviours change as we mature, my mentor said, aspects of our personality tend to remain the same. This means that the things that have brought us lasting pride and pleasure in the past will tend to keep doing so in the future. And a career that brings pride and pleasure, isn’t it what we’re all after?
So if you also feel a little blasé about the whole ‘career thing’ (or if you simply feel like a trip down memory lane), why not try the exercise for yourself? Have fun with it!