Almost every career path starts out in a similar fashion. Your first job is either a side-gig you took up during college, or something you got right after finishing school. For the most part, that first job was simply a way to pay the bills, but not something you wanted to do for very long. Eventually, you might have left for another, better paying job, or something more aligned with your field. For some, you may still be searching for the “perfect” fit while hopping from business to business.
In life, you may try out many different jobs before you find the right one. Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to find a job that not only supports you, but fits your field of expertise and personality perfectly. Why isn’t there a simple test that tells you what you would be good at and where to apply?
Interestingly enough, although modern culture enjoys relying on personality tests to help them discover their path in life, many of these tests are flawed. The Myers-Briggs test, for example, has no scientific backing at all, and although it has played a major part in determining the career path of many individuals, it was never intended to be used as such. The results of the test may expose aspects of your personality, but your personality has the ability to evolve over time, or can even change day by day.
Even the original creator, Carl Jung, stated: “Every individual is an exception to the rule.” What might have seemed like a perfect career fit on paper — according to a test like the Myers-Briggs — could actually be a nightmare of a job for you. The Myers-Briggs test and others like it are really only useful for entertainment, not for deciding your career path.
So how can you find the perfect job that not only fits your personality, but that helps you advance, grow, and financially support yourself? How can you choose the right path for your life without relying on outdated personality test results?
Here’s how you can take the leap to finding a better job for you:
Leaving a Job that Makes You Unhappy
Here on Fiscal Tiger, we have discussed before how difficult it can be to decide if it’s the right time to quit your job. There are many factors that can influence your decision, including your financial situation, your physical and mental health, hostile work environments, and the benefits provided such as healthcare or a retirement plan. Happiness is also a major factor, and if you’re unhappy — and have been for a long time — at your current job, then it’s worth it to try to find a new one.
Some skeptics may argue that your job doesn’t need to make you happy; it’s just a way to make a living. Other things — such as hobbies, your family, your friends, or the vacations you take — will fill in the gaps and will provide you with happiness. Although those things can help make your working life a little easier to manage, being happy at your job is important too. Your job should get you excited to come into work, and you should be motivated to do your best on a regular basis.
If you find that your job is making you increasingly unhappy, it may be time to quit your current job start searching for your dream job. But how can you find the right job that fits you? Where do you even start?
Finding the Right Job for Your Personality
Ask yourself these questions:
- What gets you excited to get up in the morning?
- What do you do best?
- What does your boss or coworkers say you do best?
- If money wasn’t a factor in life, what would you want to do?
- When have you been so focused on work or an activity that you lost track of time?
Answer these questions and then mull them over. Does your answer change after a day? What about after a week has gone by, or a month? If your answer stays the same, and you’re still excited to by the ideas you’ve written down, then it’s possible you’ve found your passion.
That very motivation behind your excitement could be the key to finding the right job for your personality. You want to find a job that not only gets you excited to start the day, but let’s you make a change in the world (all while getting paid).
There’s a Japanese term that many should consider when looking for their ideal career: Ikigai. It is the intersection of four elements: doing what you love, doing what you’re good at, being paid for your work, and providing a service that betters the world around you. Here is a more detailed diagram to help you visualize all of what ikigai encompasses:
[Source: Wikimedia Commons]
However, ikigai is a philosophy that exists outside of your career. Although it provides a nice venn diagram to reference, saying it is exclusive to work and income would be untrue. Luckily, the philosophy can be adapted to every stage of your life: from young student, to professional worker, to retiree. This is possibly why the philosophy of ikigai provides a better alternative than other personality tests that can limit your perspective. It simply lays out your motivations to help you better identify where you want to go in life.
As you ask yourself the questions listed above and consider what gets you motivated to do good in the world, you’ll start to see a path laid out in front of you. You might even have to decide if your future will be financially strained but blessed or the opposite. Should you work to make money, or should you work to be happy?
However, there’s a way to make money and be happy doing what you love to do everyday. We’ve discussed it before here on Fiscal Tiger, and it’s through doing what you love that you can eventually make yourself more successful over time. True happiness comes with goals, determination, and patience to see your work pay off.
If you’re ready to start doing what you love, there’s no better time than the present to make that change for yourself.
Matching Your Skills and Finding What Drives You
However, you also don’t want to drop everything you’re doing and start looking for a new job. As exhilarating as it may be to make a dramatic change in your life, these processes take time to work out, and cannot be done overnight. For one, you’ll want to make sure that you actually enjoy working on your passion.
Start by experimenting with tasks that might take part in your desired career path. Use your weekends or your free time to research all the different aspects of the field: from the daily tasks to the bigger projects. Not every day at this new job is going to be full of fun activities, and you may be performing tasks that are outside of your capabilities.
For example, if you’re thinking of becoming an architect but have no experience in construction, then you might find that transitioning to this new field is going to be difficult. Architecture is more than just building cool homes or project: it’s also about meeting with clients, working with construction crews, doing a lot of math and engineering, and drawing designs on both paper and in computer programs. If some of those aspects are too difficult for you, then you might want to tweak your plan a little bit.
Even if you find that the direction you want to go in life isn’t obtainable at the moment, you can start to work on making it happen. You can go back to school and get a degree, or start saving up money to open your own business. You can get a part time job that allows you to save up money while working towards your larger goal. Again, patience is a key to making your dreams a reality.
As you continue down your path to the perfect job for you, you’ll certainly face some challenging times. However, keep your goal in front of you, and don’t give up on your dream. Eventually you will be close to achieving your own ikigai, finding a perfect balance between your life, your passion, and your career.
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