Open your arms wide. As wide as they can go. Now imagine a thousand paths shooting out from your core in 180+ degrees. Where do they lead? What do they mean to you? How do you choose just one?
Five months ago, I stood with my arms wide open imagining all these paths as career opportunities. Entering the work world after five months on maternity leave, the possibilities for what to do next felt endless. Find a position in an organization that shares my values. Continue to work for myself. Go back to my old position. Change career focus altogether. Be a stay-at home mom (that lasted all of 2 seconds). And on and on. Being in a position to have dozens of options comes with huge freedom but also a lot of bewilderment and overwhelm.
Luckily a few tools and methods helped me break down these potential paths and uncover the route that I was most energized about and ready to take on.
If you find yourself wondering, “What do I want to do with my life?”, here are 3 activities I used and found to be helpful in answering that daunting question. All it takes is 2 hours, which is the time spent watching 2 episodes of Game of Thrones (no spoiler alerts here) or 4 episodes of Veep. I recommend performing them in the following order, but you can switch up the order and do what feels right to you.
*Note: for all of these activities, I recommend finding a blank wall, glass doors, or whiteboard where you can stick post-its and draw big. Put away your devices (except for the timer portion) and connect through writing and drawing by hand.
Use this to evaluate your previous work and see what you’ve gotten out of it.
Time: 45 minutes (or more, depending on your body of work)
Supplies: sticky notes, markers or pens, blank wall/flipchart/whiteboard, project list, timer
Use this to evaluate the skills, issues, and topics that interest you most and how you relate to them in regards to career.
Time: 30 minutes
Supplies: sticky notes, markers or pens, blank wall/flipchart/whiteboard, timer
Use this to look at people who you work with (or want to work with) and how your skills, interests, and income streams relate to one another. This will begin to paint a comprehensive picture of career opportunities.
Time: 45 minutes
Supplies: sticky notes, markers or pens, blank wall/whiteboard/large print of personal business model canvas (click here to download the PDF, available in 11 languages)
By the end of these 3 exercises, I hope you have found clarity in your work and discovered ideas on what you’d like to do next. If you’ve done one of these exercises, I’d love to hear one insight you gained by commenting in the box below and clicking “post comment.” And, if you have an extra minute, where did you struggle? Or what made you stop?
Image sources: Katie Crepeau, Gabriel Toro/Flickr, LinkedIn, MethodKit.com
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