Many grow up with the idea that we all have a ‘one true calling,’ a specific thing we’re meant to do for the rest of our lives. But when you have multiple interests and passions, picking one career path can seem overwhelming.
So, how to choose a career when you want to do all the things? If this question haunts you, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips to help you narrow down the options and solve this career conundrum.
1. Examine your hobbies
Some internet gurus would tell you to start with finding your purpose. I say make a list (can you tell I’m a Judger?). Write down all your hobbies and activities you enjoy doing. This is helpful for a couple of reasons.
First, so you get to know yourself. Some people have many co-related hobbies, for example, others not so much. Secondly, it gives you an idea of what may be a fit for a professional career. The truth is, unlike what hustle culture promotes, you don’t have to turn every hobby or creative pursuit into a career.
Once you have your list of hobbies, start examining what skills you might need to develop them, and the practicalities that each one entails.
Say you love baking. What does being a pastry chef actually involve? Maybe baking is a hobby that relaxes you, and turning it into a job would take the joy out of it. Perhaps you’d like to try the entrepreneurial route, and combine your business skills with your love for cupcakes.
With this list in hand, you can better understand the type of work you enjoy. It’s also good to know what skills could help you eventually turn your passion into a profession.
2. Consider what your ideal lifestyle looks like
If you’re struggling to pick a career path, you might also want to reflect on the role you’d like your future job to have relative to your life. This is valid whether you’re just starting out your professional journey, or considering a career shift.
Many factors influence job satisfaction, but, at the end of the day, you’re the person who knows best what’s most valuable to you. As an INFJ, for instance, working in a tense-free environment that allows me to have control over my work is a major job satisfier.
Once you have an idea of what your work style and preferences look like (whether you prefer working independently or in a team, for instance), ask yourself: what does my ideal life look like? And what compromises am I willing to make for it to become a reality?
Maybe it’s lower income for flexible hours, or a high-demanding position that allows you to travel often. Take your time considering, and remember, it’s okay if your priorities change along the way.
3. Explore different industries and sectors
So, you know what your hobbies and skills are, now it’s time to conduct some research on different industries where you could use your skill set.
One way of approaching this is thinking about a specific end-goal connected to each sector. Then, you can look at your own work style, and preferences, and see if you have a match. Why is this important? Because sometimes a particular role sounds appealing until you see what the day-to-today of that job looks like (I blame Hollywood for this).
Let’s think of a non-profit, for instance. I admire people who work for non-profits for many reasons, one of them being the resilience it takes to convince a stranger you have a worthy cause that could need their money. Still, for some, that’s what makes this type of work appealing.
Once again, it boils down to priorities. My advice? Do your research. Learn as much as you can about each industry. Then, try to understand what’s the potential growth, stability and career trajectories you can expect in each field.
4. Test the waters
You’ve done your research, asked your friends about it, but you’re still lost. Time to test the waters and get some hands-on experience!
Still, before you do that, you might want to consider consulting a career coach. This professional may aid you in figuring out what career paths could be fitting for you. It’s an investment, so make sure you check for credentials and client reviews before deciding if it’s right for you.
To gain actual job experience, look for short-term opportunities, such as internships, or job shadowing. This way you get an idea of what it’s like to work in that position or industry without having to commit fully.
5. Be at peace with having multiple interests
Finally, be at peace with the idea that you may not be wired to devote your life to only one career—and that’s fine! If you’ve followed the steps above, and still came up with many career options, chances are you’re a multipotentialite.
Unlike a specialist—who focuses their time, money, and energy in excelling at a specific craft—multipotentialites have a wide-range of interests and talents. As multi-passionate, you may not have a ‘one true calling,’ but many areas that intrigue you.
Though specialists are invaluable to our society, so are well-rounded people with a curiosity for different subjects. In fact, according to a Harvard Business Review study, companies may benefit from having both specialists and generalists on their teams.
The same study claims that generalists are especially valuable to: “challenge the industry’s taken-for-granted assumptions and bring in new ideas.”
What’s the point?
There’s no one-size-fits all solution to finding the perfect job when you want to do everything, but the tips above can be a start. The truth is, some of us aren’t wired for the specialist route. Besides, there’s much debate about whether it still makes sense thinking of a long-term career in a gig economy.
What’s more, sometimes the only way you can decide if a career is right for you is to start and see where the path takes you. And remember: the more you know about yourself and your personality, the easier it is to see those many career options as opportunities instead of problems. Good luck!