If You Want to Figure Out the Job for You, Start With This

Figuring out what job you want to do for the rest of your life can feel like an impossible task. There are so many careers to pick from, so many options out there, where do you start when trying to work out which one is best for you? It’s then made even harder by watching even person you went to school with succeeding on social media. You sit back and wonder how they managed to pick something that works for them and you didn’t?

Then you slip into worrying that time is running out and all those people that have managed to work out what they want to do are running ahead. You watch as they get promotions, bigger houses, better cars and you sit wondering where it all went wrong for you.

Figuring out what you want to do with your life is a challenge. It’s especially challenging if you want your work to mean something, if your ambition is to make a dent in this world of ours, you might have a hard time choosing your weapon.

But it doesn’t have to be hard. Let me explain.

The dark days when there seems like there is no answer and no job

In those days it can feel impossible to lift your feet and start moving. Rewind 2 years ago and was totally in this spot. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I’d done everything right in my head, I’d followed the path most often travelled and somehow I’d ended up lost. I’d always concentrated at school, got good grades, worked hard. I’d ticked the boxes. I went to a great University and landed a great graduate scheme.

I should have been completely over the moon.

But after the dust settled, about a year into the scheme I was miserable. I couldn’t find where I fitted, wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing at all and had a hard time trying to figure out why I was so miserable when on paper everything was so great. Now I’m out of that phase I can reflect and work out all the things I was doing wrong.

The Pitfalls

  1. Putting too much pressure on finding something right now

  2. Beating myself up if I had one bad day

  3. Not understanding that it takes time to like things

  4. Constantly consuming social media

  5. Not tracking what I liked and didn’t like

  6. Expecting way too much

The pitfalls to finding the right job

Piling on the pressure

There is this idea that you are meant to fly out of University totally focused on the thing you want to do with the rest of your life. You’ve had the time to figure it out whilst at University and now it’s time to get serious. Now you need to get firmly sat in that office chair and get working on that dream career of yours. Or something like that.

The reality is though, whilst at University, you were spending most of your time focusing on what you were doing at University. Either that or engaging in social activities that had nothing to do with your future prospects. The truth is that whilst you are at University you are just focused on doing a good job there. Then all of a sudden third year rolls around and you are hit by the weighted thought of needing to get a job next year. And that’s what it turns into. Most of the time it’s necessity driven not a passion project. That is the reality of most people’s experience coming out of University.

So when you can’t find the job that perfect job (whatever that is) or you feel like you’re not adding value (whatever that is) you feel stuck. It’s as if all this work so far has amounted to nothing and you scratch your head thinking about where it all went wrong. You did everything everyone told you too and you’re not happy. How can that be right?

Take off the pressure. Right now you need a job that could turn into something you love to do. You don’t need to go to work skipping, you need to feel good about going to work and a lot of that will come from your mindset. Shift your thinking about work. Instead of asking questions like: how come I haven’t found something I’m passionate about? Ask questions like: what do I end about this right now? And instead of thinking you need to love everything you do in work, remember that you’ve got your whole working life ahead of you, it’s okay to spend the first few years testing what you like.

Beating yourself up

Look, when you are in a place of vulnerability i.e. you are somewhere new and not quite sure what to do, the last person you need giving yourself a hard time is yourself. When you constantly hammer yourself with painful questions and unfair expectations, it’s likely that most days you’ll come home feeling like shit. You need to be on your side.

Instead of looking everywhere for the answers, try concentrating on the day-to-day. Try hard in this job that you have, try your absolute best and see where that takes you.

The perspective of time

When you finally graduate from University it feels like all of a sudden the race gun has gone off and we’re competing to find the ‘best’ job. You start to see people get ahead of you and you feel like you should be speeding up. So you start to ask harder questions, get stricter on your criteria and beat yourself up even more.

Look, medicine these days is brilliant. The likelihood is that you will end up (hopefully) having a wonderfully long life. If you don’t work out what you want to do with your life in your first 6 months out of University then that is fine. It’s more than fine. You have got years ahead of your to work this thing out, take your time and do a thorough job.

Get off of social media

Social media is a good thing. I believe that. I think it’s brilliant to be connected to people, to be able to check-in how they are is amazing. It makes the world feel a closer place and that can only be a good thing. However, the way you use social media is important. Often it’s easy to fall into a trap where you are using social media as a tool to check up on people. You aren’t using it to connect and make sure people are okay, instead it becomes a measuring stick.

You scroll through the newsfeed and see everyone’s success as a reason to think your life is a total mess. As you sit in your high school bedroom you see one of the people you’d gone to school with has just bought a new house. You see that someone else has just got promoted and their fancy title makes you envious. Someone else has just bought a brand new BMW and you look on the drive to see you 2002 plate Ford staring back at you.

If you use social media poorly it’s a recipe for disaster. If you find yourself going on there to constantly compare yourself, get off it. No picture can measure how happy someone is in life and that’s the only thing you should be aiming for. Your own happiness is the goal here and one thing is for sure, searching through social media isn’t helping you.

Not tracking properly

It’s easy to get up and go through the same routine day in day out. And that routine extends to the conversations you have with yourself. Every day you talk to yourself about how much you don’t enjoy this job, how you wish you were doing something else or had chosen a different route in life. Monday — Friday you have these conversations but you never stop and ask why.

You never ask yourself why you are unhappy, what’s making this day so unbearable, is it the people you work with, the type of work, the office environment? What specifically is the reason for your complete hatred for your job. Consequently, because you never ask this question, you never find out the answer. What happens instead is you spend a lifetime having the same conversation with yourself and never really solving the key issue at hand.

Instead try to ask better questions, questions like:

  1. What do I enjoy about my work?

  2. When do I have the most energy for my work?

  3. Do I like the people I work with, if yes, why? What is it about them?

  4. Do I enjoy the office environment, if no, why? What is it about the office that you dislike?

  5. Do you like the tasks of your working day, if not, why not?

  6. Do you enjoy the hours you work, if yes, how come?

  7. Are you happy on your morning commute?

  8. Are you drained and tired after a day’s work? If so, why, what’s drained your energy?

  9. Are there any days where you’ve felt excited by the work you’re doing, if yes, when? and why?

There are a million questions to start asking yourself if you are feeling you aren’t getting enough out of work. You need to start by asking them.

Expectation check

If you are asking the world for a well-paying job, that gives you everything you want in life, that allows you to work on things that matter to you, that gives you a sense of fulfilment, that also has great progression and amazing benefits that’s great. But what you’ve got to realise is that you are asking the world for quite a lot. Not too much, don’t get me wrong it’s totally achievable. I honestly believe that anyone can find total happiness at work. But you’ve got to really work at it.

The trouble is we tend to look at other people from afar that are doing incredibly well, that have all the things we wish to have in life and think of it as an injustice. The reality though is that those people have worked their arse off to get where they are. Now they are doing great things, you hear about them but they didn’t get there by chance. You don’t see the late nights, the stressful conversations, the deep thinking and the decisions that go behind their story. You just see them.

If you want a lot in life you have to be willing to put a lot into life. You can’t expect your dream job to come up to you and plonk itself on your lap. You need to do some due diligence. Once you start to ask the hard questions, try harder at making things better and adjust your mindset a little, you start to realise that you really are capable of anything.

Final thoughts on the job thing

Take it from me, I’d spent 2 years moping around as if life had kicked me when I was down and I’d lost the ability to get up. I’d get frustrated and upset on a daily basis about where I was in life and what I was doing. I found it helpful to shift my thinking towards my career problems and bite the bullet. The truth is that if you want something you can have it but you have to work fairly hard to get there.

It’s easy to say you want a career with ‘value’ that allows you to fulfil your passion, it’s hard to look inside yourself and figure out what that actually means. It means asking hard questions, trying and failing often and not stopping until you get where you want to be. A happy career is a lifelong journey but if you start with the steps above I’m hoping it won’t take you 2 years to get on the right path. Take it from me, I’ve been there.

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