Whether you are 23 or 43, figuring out what you want to do with your life can present a serious challenge. According to Abraham Maslow’s oft cited Hierarchy of Needs, self actualization rests at the top of the five stage pyramid and is the last of the humans needs to be achieved as one moves through life. It makes sense that more basic needs like psychological and safety requirements must be met before higher level needs like esteem and self actualization can be accomplished. Typically, a satisfying career fits into the higher stages of a system like this. It is not essential to survival, but it is key to high functioning and emotional growth that one finds work that is challenging and fulfilling.
There are myriad personality and career aptitude tests designed to help you figure out your ideal career. These tests can help you assess where your interests, values, strengths, and preferences converge. Some of the most common are:
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Strong Interest Inventory (SII)
Self-Directed Search (SDI)
Career Ability Placement Survey (CAPS)
These will profile you make suggestions that may help you find a suitable path.
Figuring out what you are meant to do
After analyzing your aptitudes, you will be left with your intuition and inclination. What you are really meant to do may take some time and work to uncover. Finding your path is a process that takes many factors into consideration. The intersection between what you are great at, what you love to do, and what you can make money doing may help you realize what you are truly meant to do.
There are numerous books and workbooks on this subject, but, a few simple questions that may point you in the right direction and help you figure out what your life’s work should be are:
What have you always loved to do?
What have you loved doing since you were a kid? What hobby do you do that is so wonderful that you lose time entirely while participating in it? This activity may be a hint at what you are meant to do in life. Think about careers that incorporate your beloved activity in some way.
What are you attracted to?
What is your favorite movie? What music do you love? What are your favorite museums? What countries fascinate you? Your cultural interests may help you find your perfect career path.
What are you really great at?
Sometimes the thing that comes most naturally to you is what you are meant to do. Be it bicycling or painting watercolors, the things that you naturally excel at may hint at what you are meant to do with your life.
When you follow the things that inspire and excite you, you will be well on your way to finding a fulfilling career. When you find the job you were meant to have, you will still have to work hard, but it will not feel like work because you’ll derive incomparable satisfaction from it. Whatever your path, remember that everyone has a very unique part to play. There is something that you are here to do that no one else can do quite as well as you can. When you find that thing, you’ll feel harmonious and expansive and your life will open up with great opportunities.