7 crucial questions to ask yourself to figure out what your dream job is

Remember when Chandler on Friends quit his boring job to explore his passion in life? I think we can all relate to Chandler. Maybe you’re just out of college. Maybe you’re at a job you hate and wonder what it would be like to have a job you love. Or maybe you like what you do but you also know that your current position isn’t your dream job. A well-meaning friend or family member might ask you, “What do you want to do, then?”

That’s a tough question. Chandler couldn’t answer it right away, either. When you find yourself at a career crossroads, it can be difficult to know which direction to take, especially if you don’t even know where you want to go. Which is why it’s helpful when searching for your dream job to ask yourself even more questions, but very specific ones. Seems counterintuitive (and maybe a little confusing), but asking yourself a list of big, clarifying questions can help lead you to the career of your dreams.

Take the first step toward crushing your #careergoals and ask yourself these seven crucial questions recommended to HelloGiggles by a group of career coaches who make it their job to help you find your dream job. You got this.

1What am I interested in?

“Interests are a great place to start because most people are aware of the things that they find interesting, even if they don’t know how to make money doing them,” says Melissa McClung, career advisor and owner of LBD Careers.

2What activities do I most enjoy doing during my free time?

Figuring out what you’re interested in might mean evaluating your favorite activities. “There are so many stories of entrepreneurs who turned a side hustle into a career and for many people, side hustles are born out of passion. I myself started tutoring and working with students while I was still in school and it was this experience that inspired my career in college admissions counseling,” says Dr. Kat Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise. “Hobbies and recreational activities can serve as clues to help you determine what you most enjoy doing and point you in the right direction in your job search.”

3How do I like to work?

“Within any field there are going to be jobs that involve more time on your own and jobs that involve more interpersonal interaction and collaboration,” says Kara Loewentheil, a certified career coach. “It’s important to know whether you like working alone or with others so that you can pick a job that leans heavier on the way you prefer to work.”

4If nobody got to have any opinions or judgments about my job, what would I do?

Sometimes we are clear on what we want, but we convince ourselves that we can’t really trust our passions based on those around us. “Maybe your mom has told you that social workers don’t do valuable work, so you put your dream of being a therapist out of mind,” says Lisa Lewis, a career coach. “Maybe an old teacher told you that you’d never be a good public speaker, even though you know you love teaching. Releasing yourself from the limitations others put on you can be the most empowering decision you can make around finding your dream career path.”

5Do I want adventure or stability?

“Working at a start-up and working at an established corporation are very different,” says Loewentheil. “Do you thrive on the unexpected and love doing whatever it takes to grow something fast? Or do you prefer a predictable, stable job where nothing unexpected ever happens? Knowing whether you thrive on variety or routine is important in picking a job that will play to those strengths.”

6What does work-life balance look like for me?

According to LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele, 70% of professionals feel their biggest driver of stress is a lack of work-life balance, with almost half reporting that worry over work-life balance causes pre-work week anxiety, aka the Sunday Scaries. Because the majority of professionals say they are proudest to work at companies that promote work-life balance and flexibility, Decembrele says it’s key to not only know what balance looks like to you, but to also set boundaries to help keep burnout at bay.

7Does my dream job have real meaning?

Why is this important? Dr. John Chuback, a personal development expert and author of Make Your Own Damn Cheese: Understanding, Navigating and Mastering the 3 Mazes of Success, says that it’s unlikely the job will remain a dream if you don’t feel that you’re somehow making a difference in the world. “You don’t have to cure cancer or achieve world peace but you do need to make a contribution in some way” in order to make the career sustainable, he says. “Making kids smile by twisting ballon animals at birthday parties may be all it takes, but if you’re not serving someone somehow, the dream probably won’t last.”

Now that you have an idea of where to start, take the time to go through this list with a journal and pen. If you find yourself stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mentor or trusted friend. By diving into your interests and values, you’ll find yourself on the path toward your dream job in no time.

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