I know for a fact that I’m not the only 20-something person to have had a minimum of three career-related existential crises.
Given the amount of career options available coupled with the ever-increasing cost of living, it comes as no surprise that our generation is struggling when it comes to narrowing down the path that’s right for us.
Finding our dream job may seem like an impossible task, but a crucial first step in career planning is recognizing just how important small goals can be. Maggie Fanney, an agent at the real estate startup Triplemint, is living proof that taking risks can be a worthwhile career move.
She started out studying accounting in college and through a series of changes, has ended up in real estate.
“My first role right out of school was such a better fit for me than accounting, even though it didn’t fit perfectly into my original plan,” she tells me. “After almost 2 years there, I made another big career jump into real estate, where I am currently working at Triplemint. I am so grateful I constantly asked myself what I enjoyed and took big steps to move towards it. Every single time I’ve made a change that I was scared of, it has been the best decision for me.”
But how exactly does one go about making changes? How does anyone even begin to find out where their passions lie?
To help, I spoke to New York City based career coach Eileen Sharaga. Sharaga specializes in helping people figure out why they are unhappy in their current professional situation, and guiding them toward a more fulfilling role.
I asked both Sharaga and Fanney to lay out a 7-day plan to help jumpstart anyone who may be feeling lost and confused in their career. It’s full of small, achievable goals that can easily blossom into larger more impactful ones.
Their steps are as follows:
Day 1: Self-Analysis
Regardless of the field you are in or how long you’ve been there, Fanney emphasizes that if you feel at all lost, the first step is the same: “Admit to yourself that you feel stuck and more importantly, be willing to acknowledge that feeling stuck isn’t a place you want to be.”
Next, Sharaga suggests asking yourself the following questions: What aspects of your current job, or of a future job do/would make you happy and/or satisfied? What are your priorities at this point in your life? Can you articulate your goals?
Writing down your goals will make them real. Think about what you really want. If your goal is not thought-out it will feel in-actionable and overwhelming.
Day 2: Look To Your Social Media Presence For Clues
As social media begins to blend with all parts of the business world, who you are online directly relates to the job you want. Study your own past posts to discover where some of your most authentic and organic passions lie. Are you great at sparking topical conversations? Do you have a passion for activism, or even a love of unusual internet deep-dives? Believe it or not—your passions and skills lie in the stories and insights you gravitate towards organically.
Day 3: Identify Your Talents, Maximize Your Strengths
Now, push your self-doubt aside and write down three to five qualities that you know you possess.
This is the time to identify your skills and leverage your strengths, says Sharaga. If you’re great at meeting deadlines, have excellent interpersonal skills, or are highly efficient at negotiating, write it all down.
Day 4: Understand the Characteristics for Career Satisfaction
What are the most satisfying elements for you in a work situation? Do you prefer working alone, or in a bustling atmosphere? What elements give you energy? What drains you? What will keep you connected to your work in a meaningful way? If you could imagine the ideal job, what would that look like to you? Write it all down.
Day 5: Use Your Resume As a Tool For Self-Reflection
When was the last time you looked at your resume? Does it clearly reflect your current position and objectives appropriately? Having the right resume will build confidence, and move you toward taking action. Some important tips: choose the right format, use strong phrases that reflect your abilities, and include a profile/summary statement that reflects where you're looking go, not just where you've been.
Day 6: Connect the Dots
Now that you have a better sense of your talents and interests, it's time to research how to put them into practice. Use those insights as keywords to search for on Levo, LinkedIn, Indeed and other career sites. This is where you'll discover the types of positions you might want to angle for, or at least get a better sense of how your passions are put into practice by others.
Day 7: Get Organized and Take Action
Start reaching out to people who are pursuing passions that overlap with yours for insight and advice—it could lead to a lasting mentorship. (Check out how to write a flawless cold email.)
Remeber, many opportunities are hiding in non-work experiences, explains Sharaga. A side hustle or personal interest might point you towards volunteering and networking in new areas. Unlikely connections may reveal themselves when you’re trying something you’ve never done before. Take advantage of ALL opportunities.
If you're feeling overwhelmed about how many people to contact or where to begin, a great resource is Our Daily One, a daily email with one task to accomplish for the day. "Completing one small objective each day can be the step in the right direction to motivate you in all areas of your life," adds Fanney.
Realistically, you probably won’t magically land your dream career in 7 days, but taking the time to analyze what interests you and explore those interests can direct you towards your passion and purpose, especially if you're stuck in a creative rut.
Taking career risks can be extremely scary, especially when the burden of student loans is weighing on your shoulders, but as Maggie Fanney proves, they are always worth it in the long run.
“It might not be a straight shot to your dream job, but as long as you are continuously improving what’s important to you, you are headed in the right direction,” says Fanney.
Even if a big change doesn’t turn out the way you expected, each challenge or bump in the road will inevitably teach you something.
“It can be scary to rock the boat, especially with something as all-encompassing as your career,” Fanney says. “Don’t let that fear hold you back from making big changes. When you let yourself try something new or try something that might not align with what you or people around you imaged for you, you will slowly inch closer and closer to your dream job.”
Go get ‘em.
(Photo via Pixaby)