According to a Business Insider article, the average person spends over 90,000 hours of their life working. This comes out to more than 10 straight years away from friends and family or hobbies and leisurely activities, and instead hunched over a desk, beside a hospital bed, on the phone with a client, taking orders from a table of guests, teaching a room full of rambunctious kids, working on a house’s electrical wiring, or one of the literally countless other activities that people in this country find themselves doing during the workday. In other words, the career we decide to pursue matters. And it not only has lifelong consequences for you, but for your larger community as well.
However, when it comes to selecting a career many don’t know where to begin. That’s why we created this guide. Inside you will find the following sections with helpful questions and worksheets included:
- What Are You Naturally Gifted to Do? Explore your abilities and aptitudes.
- What Gives You Life? Discover your passions and interests.
- The Importance of Community and Culture. Uncover your optimal working environment.
- A Responsibility to Both Yourself and the World. Determining your purpose.
- Helpful Resources. Find books, tools, online resources, and PLNU counselor contact information here.
We can all recall those people who always seemed to know what they wanted to do. Maybe it’s that friend from elementary school who was always fascinated with planes and ended up flying them for a living, or that cousin who couldn’t help but be nurturing as a kid — be that to people or stuffed animals — and went on to nursing school. While your path might not be so clear cut, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a career that still brings you joy, satisfaction, and meaning.
But finding your life’s work takes, well, a lot of work.
Finding a career you love requires time, patience, trusting relationships and mentors, self-awareness, and even a little bit of risk. With that said, it’s important to note that not everyone, unfortunately, is capable of pursuing a career they love for reasons beyond their control. Perhaps because of family or financial obligations they can’t in good conscience look for another job, or maybe they have other health or psychological conditions that prevent them from doing so. Yet, even for some who find themselves in those situations, it still might be possible for them to move toward a better career fit — even if only incrementally over many years — and one day make the full time switch when circumstances allow. There are no shortage of examples of people who began a side gig selling framed calligraphy or playing guitar who eventually turned these things into full time jobs.
And yet, if you can’t currently make a career shift for good reasons, it’s still worth identifying the types of activities and engagements that excite and inspire you — the type of work that makes you come alive. It might be something that never commands a livable paycheck, but perhaps your gift for gardening, penchant for making people feel at ease and loved, or passion for lyrical poetry can be taken up after working hours as a way to not only invigorate and fulfill you, but also bring joy to those around you.
Whether you’re a student about to begin your career, currently in the middle of your career, or even retired from full time work, this modest guide will be valuable. Of course, finding a career you love isn’t ever as easy as reading an article online (unfortunately!), which is why it should be acknowledged that it’s a process that takes time. Finding a career you love involves exploring a host of complex and varied questions: What am I naturally suited to do? What am I passionate about? What do my tangible circumstances allow? What are my limitations? How has my experience and background prepared me for a certain type of work? What kind of environment, or people, fit me best? And what kind of impact will my work have in the world as an act of love and service?
Taken in this light, hopefully this guide can serve as a starting point — an invitation to begin thinking about these questions that will require time, effort, and commitment. At the end of each section, you’ll find a handful of questions to help you start thinking about finding a career you love. We encourage you to write out your responses to these questions, think hard about your answers, refer back to them again and again, and keep striving toward the worthwhile goal of finding an enjoyable and meaningful career that you love.
It’s precisely by approaching the question, “What should I do for a living?” in a serious and intentional way that marks the first step to being able to not only answer that question, but bring it to fruition in your life.
Next Page: What Are You Naturally Gifted to Do?