Self-Discovery: What It Means to Your Career Planning Efforts
For women looking to develop their careers, here’s some advice to take to heart: Just because you’re good at dancing doesn’t mean you should become a professional dancer.
You’re going to be spending a big chunk of your life at work – 35 percent of your total waking hours over a 50-year career, is what one estimate puts it at for the average person. That makes it all the more important to know who you are and what matters to you if you intend to spend those work hours at a career that becomes a natural extension of you.
Undertaking a journey of self-discovery is what makes the difference – not just improving the career you’ve got, but also improving your insights into what you want. That’s where a successful career planning process begins. And your future life of happy, if not more satisfying and engaging work, takes off.
One place to start is with a self-assessment. Take a deep dive – and an honest one – into the individual traits that make you tick. You’ll develop a comprehensive self-portrait that will help you determine careers that fit.
According to Nigerian author and career coach Segun Akiode, your self-assessment should cover the following ground:
- Values: What’s important to you? Achievement? Status? Autonomy?
- Interests: What do you enjoy doing? Golf? Movies with friends? Hiking?
- Personality: What makes you you? What motivates you? What are your needs? And what are your attitudes?
- Skills: What are you good at? Can you write and verbally communicate well? Are you a tech wiz? Are you a natural teacher?
There are tools to assist you in the process, which you can find by Googling “career self-assessment.” Many are free.
Women should also consider the role higher education can play in self-development and career development. Many colleges and universities today are incorporating self-discovery into their MBA programs. After all, corporate talent recruiters look as much for soft skills and emotional intelligence in their top job candidates as they do for mastery of a particular aspect of business. Helping people reach the full potential of their personality has become an important part of many business schools’ overall programs.
Access MBA, which matches qualified candidates for MBA programs with the world’s top business schools, points out that personal, leadership and career development coaching is becoming standard fare. At the IMD Business School in Switzerland, for example, students’ self discovery includes psychoanalytical coaching, peer reviews and individual reflection. It’s geared not just to impart the skills to navigate organizational contexts, but to help people understand how their own moral compasses impact decisions.
In addition to formal schooling, also consider self-discovery programs like The Landmark Forum. The Landmark Forum is all about helping people chart a clear path to self-discovery and self-awareness, whether that’s to benefit their careers or the quality of their relationships and personal lives.
Who Are You?
It can be difficult to go from determining who you are to actually figuring out what that means for the kind of work and work environment you’re best suited for. It’s especially challenging because self-discovery can take so many forms – from critical self-assessments to feedback from personality tests to coaching or training programs.
However you go about it, you won’t necessarily get pointed to a specific career. You will, however, have gained the insights it takes to make more thoughtful career decisions.