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How can I discover my dream job?

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How can I discover my dream job, one that uses my strengths and gives me a sense of purpose, even if I haven’t had a career yet? 

We asked career coach Laura Garnett, and she recommended the following:

Ask 10 co-workers and/or classmates what your unique approach is to the specific work that you do. If you are a branding person, ask about your specific approach to building a brand. If you’ve led projects, ask about that. Your innate talent, as I define it, is your unique approach to the work you do. It isn’t the job that you do, but the particular skill or approach you bring that makes you so successful at it.

Then take a moment to think through your life so far, focusing on the toughest challenges you’ve faced. Were there pivotal moments or feedback you received that stuck with you? What was the underlying theme of these moments? Once you identify the most significant challenge, this can become the foundation of your purpose.

Let me give you an example. Howard Schultz, the owner of Starbucks, made it his mission to provide benefits to his employees, after growing up watching his parents work minimum wage jobs without benefits. Providing security and a kind of second home for his employees was part of his purpose, because this was very clearly connected to the poverty he experienced in his own childhood. He transformed a tough challenge from his early life into a core purpose of his adult career.

Your purpose (you found an easter egg!) is connected to an activity that provides deep fulfillment. Knowing your purpose is like tapping into a reserve of energy that you didn’t know you had. Most people think a purpose is something that you discover by chance. On the contrary, your purpose is related to a core challenge that you have conquered in your past. When you engage in work that helps others deal with a challenge you have overcome, you will feel very fulfilled – and you will have found your purpose. An added benefit is that working from a place of purpose boosts creativity and innovation. When you are energized by the work you are doing, confidence just flows.”

Coach Garnett also recommended checking in with yourself regularly to make sure you stay on track. Ask yourself the following two questions as often as you can:

1) Would I do this for free? If the answer is yes, then you know you are on the right path.           

2) Is this work fun and energizing for me? If you aren’t energized by your day-to-day professional life, then you won’t stay committed. If the answer is yes, most days, you will ultimately succeed.”

Most importantly, believe in yourself every day. “Confidence can disappear at a moment’s notice. In order to maintain the confidence you have created from following the first two steps, you need to believe in yourself. Create a daily practice that supports your confident self. This could be creating a mantra you display prominently, writing in a journal, or just taking a moment to pause and reflect on what you are doing and give yourself a pat on the back. In these moments you have to tell yourself that you believe in your own capabilities and that you know you are fully capable of doing all that you desire. Belief in yourself is one of your most powerful allies.”

Too few people take the reflection time to build self-knowledge and figure out what it is they do best, better than anyone else. If you put time and energy into knowing and believing in yourself, you’ll quickly find yourself moving in new and positive directions–with confidence.

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