finding your career path

Finding your career can be a frustrating process, maybe you feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t have it figured out. You should know that’s not the truth. Your career path is a personal journey, and it’s important to remember that it is by no means a linear progression. 

Determining your career is a process of self-exploration that can’t be done with a simple career quiz — it requires turning inwards to really think about your values and goals to understand what paths are right for you. However, this type of self-evaluation can be extremely tough — after all, if you’re already inside your own brain, how are you supposed to reveal new insights on your career path?

Because of this out-of-the-box problem, we’ve turned to the “five whys” process, a project management analyzation tool used by the likes of Toyota motors to figure out the root cause of a problem. 

Although Toyota uses this process to troubleshoot car problems, you can apply this to your own life to troubleshoot your career. The five whys process involves turning inwards and finding the root cause of your problems. Then, you ask yourself “why?” five times, digging deeper each time until you gain a nuanced understanding of the true basis of your problem. 

To make this process easier, check out this printable problem statement worksheet to get started. 

However, the question you start with doesn’t have to be as straightforward as “what career do I want?”. In fact, asking questions tangential to your problem often reveals insights you hadn’t previously considered. 

One way to start this process is by figuring out what career paths you don’t want to be on. Try asking yourself “Where do my priorities lie: money, time, or fulfillment?”. Your answer to this question will help give you insight into what you value most. 

From there, you can ask yourself things like “what sacrifices would I be willing to make for my job?”. Would you take irregular hours or a job with lots of travel required? These types of hard decisions will help you eliminate potential careers to narrow down your list. 

You should next think to yourself “what can I compromise on?”. Determining these areas where you’re willing to give-and-take allows you to understand your priorities even further. For example, are you willing to take less pay if it means you get to set your own hours and work from home part-time?

Next, you should ask yourself “what are my goals?”. Understanding your goals will give you insight into your short- and long- term career plan and how much you want to intersect your passions with your career.

After you’ve determined your goals, ask yourself “What am I good at?”. Determining what you are talented at can help you whittle down your career options even further and start to gain clarity on what you want long-term. 

No matter where you are in your career, turning inwards to do a little self-evaluation is always a good idea. For a complete guide to finding the right career for you, take a look at the infographic below.