Follow Your Strengths

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TOO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM

In today's job market, there are a million options for what to do in life, from computer animation to teaching underwater basket weaving. With new job titles popping up every day and the high probability of switching roles multiple times throughout a career, it's increasingly important to adopt a framework for discerning which opportunities you should pursue.

So what's the secret to a successful career choice?

People choose careers for all kinds of reasons. Some people always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. Some fall in love with a particular discipline in college and want to make it their life's work. While still others take the first job that comes along and give it a whirl. Others are financially motivated and will follow the money. A rare few instinctively know that they could only ever work for themselves, so they become entrepreneurs. 

I didn’t gravitate toward any of these approaches. When I was about ten, my career ambitions were a bit unrealistic. I wanted to be a baseball player and spend my off seasons working as a gondoliere serenading newlyweds along the canals of Venice (must be the name, Caruso). Needless to say, that didn’t quite pan out. 

Later on, in college, I was fascinated by every subject I studied from journalism to biochemistry, Russian to Western Civ. So the endless list of careers for graduates was impossible to narrow down.

In all honesty, I've always been somewhat jealous of people who could settle on one of the career discernment strategies above. But I've met a lot of people, especially millennials, with precisely the same problem. With so many choices, how can anyone decide what to do with their life?

THE SECRET OF STRENGTHS

That's where having a framework is absolutely essential. 

One great framework for career (and life) decisions is the Strengths Finder, developed by psychologist Don Clifton over the course of four decades of research. The Strengths Finder helps people identify and leverage their most prominent qualities, from creativity to compassion, with thirty four categories of strengths overall. Through a simple multiple choice test, you can identify your top five, or even rank order all thirty four, if you like. Having identified your top strengths, you can begin to seek out opportunities, projects, and entire professions that align to them.

This has been an incredible tool for my own development in the last year alone. So I plan to write about strengths a lot and share as much from the Strengths Finder as I can. But I don't want to give away too much before you have a chance to check it out for yourself. For now, here's a teaser: my top strength is Strategic. Aside from that, suffice it to say that Strengths Finder has become the foundation of my ongoing career discernment, so it's no wonder that I'm dedicating the inaugural Career post to it. 

Wherever you are in your career journey, whether a rookie or seasoned vet, I know you can get a lot out of Strengths Finder 2.0. So check it out at GallupIf it resonates with you, I encourage you to buy the book, take the test, leverage your strengths, and keep striving!