What Should I Do With My Life?

In my past, I dabbled as a career coach. I thought, “I can help you write a resume or cover letter and prepare for the interview.” But what people really wanted was for me to tell them what they should do with their lives.

Seriously?  Do you know how long it took me to figure that out for myself? How in the world am I supposed to help someone else figure it out? I was in finance for over a decade, and what I do continues to evolve.

What I can do, however, is share how I sought my own answers; maybe something will spark for you. For me it came down to 1) Recognizing how I made decisions, 2) Acknowledging the needs and passions I have, 3) Reflecting, analyzing and evaluating options.

1) Recognizing Decision Patterns
As a child, financial security was not something I had, and I was very driven by a career that would give me that. I also liked being good at things, and I’m really good with numbers.

These are the factors that drove my decision to pursue a career in finance. It seemed the logical choice. That is, unless you knew me at all. I didn’t understand it when everyone said, “You don’t seem like a typical accountant.” Until I tried to be one.

Accounting made sense in my brain, and it seemed like a really secure future. My decision wasn’t based on what was fulfilling or what might make me happy. As a result, it didn’t. Understand what drove your decisions in the past and what might drive them in the present.

2) Acknowledging Needs and Passions
People are motivated by different things. Some like achievement – the idea of accomplishing a task and checking a box.  Some like power or influence and having authority in position or title. And some are motivated by recognition – the feedback and appreciation. Some by all three.

What do you need to feel happy in your role? At one point in my life, I realized that recognition was important to me. I wanted feedback, and to understand my impact. In finance you get your performance evaluations but you wont necessarily get appreciation along the road – and it was often a discouraging environment for me. It did, however, fulfill my task orientation because I got to say ,”Done,” a lot.

What is something you need? I needed to be around people that actually wanted me around (not something that happens to an auditor very often). Sometimes it’s not the work, but the environment of the work and the people you work with that impact your happiness on the job. In fact, close work relationships increase job satisfaction by 50% and it’s one of the best predictors of your happiness at work.  What makes you feel good?

3) Reflect, Analyze and Evaluate
Reflecting and analyzing our decision patterns and needs will enable us to evaluate potential career options from multiple perspectives; inevitably leading to a more informed path.

Next week I will share an exercise to help you with the reflect, analyze and evaluate portion to guide you toward a future that fits.

2 thoughts on “What Should I Do With My Life?

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It’s very interesting to me and I’m intrigued to read your next article.

  2. This was excellent. I wish I had my answers to the questions you posed. I’ve spent my life doing things I don’t care about and feeling lousy about it.

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