Is the question ‘How to know what career is right for you?’ causing you sleepless nights? I have been there staring at the ceiling, wondering how to find the answer to that question. I had been so sure of my career path and yet as I began to work in my industry of choice, I found myself unhappy and wondering what to do next. I was confused and didn’t know any more how to know what career was right for me.
I was reminded of my search for the right career, while shopping for my wedding dress this summer. May my wedding dress story encourage you on your quest for the right career.
A girlfriend convinced me to go to the mall to search for my wedding dress. I don’t like shopping in malls; the artificial light environment, the stale air and the noise level make me want to run. However, I was grateful to receive her support and agreed. After a couple of hours, countless stores and having tried on many dresses, my head was spinning and I was exhausted. I had found one possible dress, but somehow it didn’t feel right. So we left the shopping spree empty handed.
When looking for their ideal career, most people spend their time looking at job sites and sending off applications. They end up feeling discouraged if there is ‘too much choice’ or when they never hear back. This is the feeling I had after going shopping for my wedding dress in the mall.
How to Know What Career is Right for You? – Make Space for Your Feelings
When I began the search for my wedding dress, I had very specific ideas about how the dress should look like. After the shopping mall experience, I realized that it was more important to connect with how I wanted to feel on my wedding day. I wanted to feel open, relaxed and joyful. I knew that no dress no matter how beautiful could give me these feelings. However, the dress could help or hinder in evoking these feelings in me.
Many people get fixated on the tangible elements of their future career, such as the industry they want to work in and the salary they want to earn. It is just as important to get clear on how you want to feel once you are working in your true vocation. Do you want to feel energized and excited or calm and relaxed? Take a moment to check in with yourself. Notice the feelings you most want to experience on your professional path and jot them down.
How to Know What Career is Right for You? – Wander and Dream
With the intention to find a good container for my feelings, I travelled to Vancouver to go dress shopping with another girlfriend. I now knew I needed to focus on how I felt in each dress. As I had some time before meeting my friend, I wandered down Main Street and found one cute boutique lined up after the other. Most of the boutiques on Main Street are locally owned and feature locally designed dresses. I enjoyed the atmosphere in these quaint boutiques. I also enjoyed the ease of ‘just looking’ instead of aggressively searching.
When searching for your ideal career, it’s easy to get very serious about the matter. After all you need to find your ideal career as quickly as possible. However, the more ‘seriously’ we look for it, the more we tense up. It can be very refreshing to take a break from your serious search and allow yourself to wander and dream. You may receive some important clues about your ideal career while in this relaxed state of mind.
In one of the stores on Main Street, I saw a dress I really liked, unfortunately they didn’t have it in my size in purple, my favourite colour. The store keeper handed me the same dress in navy blue with white dots in my size. She said that if I liked the fit, she might be able to order the purple dress for me in my size.
How to Know What Career is Right for You? – Stay Open to be Surprised
As I put on the dress, happy feelings washed over me. I couldn’t help but smile at myself in the mirror. I felt light and playful. The dress fit me like a glove and the pattern and colours I would have never chosen for myself were so delightful. As I stepped out of the change room, the store keeper saw my face beaming with joy and exclaimed: “You look like a woman who just found her dress!” I could feel her sincerity and knew that she was not just trying to sell me the dress. Just to be sure, I tried on the dress in a bigger size in purple. Even though I love that colour, I felt that something was missing. It didn’t feel light and playful. This confirmed that I truly wanted the navy blue dress with the white polka dots.
The feeling very much reminded me of the time when I found life coaching as my vocation. It just felt so right. And yet, I was scared at first to take the leap into my new profession.
How to Know What Career is Right for You? – Stop Waiting for Approval
I would love to say that I had the courage to buy the dress on the spot. I was not quite so brave. Instead, I asked for the dress to be put on hold, so that I could come back with my friend and get her opinion.
This also happens on the search for your ideal career. Your intuition may be speaking loud and clear, but you may not have the courage to follow its guidance. Just like me on my wedding dress search, you may look to others for approval and reassurance.
When I returned to the store with my friend and she looked at me in the dress, I could sense that she didn’t approve of the dress I had fallen in love with. She said it was all right but that we should look at some other dresses and visit a few other stores first.
Even though I had told her that I wasn’t looking for a traditional wedding dress, she had her own ideas of what a wedding dress should look like. We went through a hand full of designer fashion stores and I tried on dozens of dresses. She even declared once or twice: “This is the perfect dress!” I just shook my head and told her that I wasn’t feeling it. With every dress I tried on, I was feeling more hopeless, frustrated and confused.
Finally I told my friend that I just wanted to go home. I didn’t care anymore about what dress I was wearing on my wedding day. I knew deep down that the dress didn’t matter anyways; it was just the icing on the cake. What really mattered was the love and commitment that Chris and I would be sharing, looking into each others eyes, as we declared our vows.
How to Know What Career is Right for You? – Trust Your Intuition
It took me a few days to recover from this shopping experience. When I did, I remembered once again how playful, light and happy I had felt in that blue polka dotted dress. I would have never picked it out for myself, if it wasn’t for the purple dress that was not available in my size. This dress clearly had found me. It was exactly the kind of icing I wanted on my wedding day: playful and light! I called the boutique in Vancouver. Luckily the dress was still available and I bought it right away. I am so happy I did, as I felt great wearing it on my wedding day.
Here’s how to know what career is right for you: When you find your ideal career, it feels like a garment that fits you perfectly and that you love to wear. This feeling doesn’t go away, even when others, with good intentions, try to convince you otherwise. It is up to you to fully commit to and embrace your true vocation. It may be unconventional and not all your friends and relatives may approve of it. However, you will be happy and that that’s what matters most.
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