In my coaching many people come to me in the midst of a career crisis. A time where a change in career is needed or wanted, by choice or by chance. One of the “exercises” I use frequently comes from Nicolas Lore’s book The Pathfinder. He says that one of the first steps in designing a new career is making three lists:  A WANTS list, a COMMITMENTS and REQUIREMENTS list and a QUESTIONS list.

 The Wants List

Ask yourself, “What do I want, desire, dream of or wish for in a career”?  After you make this list, highlight the wants you want the most and then prioritize them by level of desire.  Lastly, go through the list and cross off all the wants you are probably not going to commit to achieving.

The Commitments and Requirements List

Ask yourself, “What I am sure will definitely be an important component of my future career?  What are my requirements?, What promises am I willing to make?, What am I willing to put at stake or give up?”

From this make a list of Preexisting Requirements. These are things that you know you will not have to research or wrestle with to know they must be part of your career-they are givens. This may be things like-“I only want to work 35 hours a week”, or “I don’t want to have direct interaction with customers,” or “I have to remain in the city where I live”.  Then make another list called Created Commitments. These are the things that you would have be part of your work if you could have anything you wanted.  Which of these would you definitely commit to?  Make the commitments specific and definite.  Examples are “I will work at home at least one day a week” or “I will travel 2 months out of each year” or “I will work for an hourly wage if there are bonuses.”

The Questions List

Ask yourself, “What questions must I answer in order to choose my future career?”  Make a list of everything you need to resolve in order to choose your future career. These can be things like, do I need more education or is this a growing field?  Look inside yourself for what your preferences are, such as, do I feel comfortable working with the public, and outside yourself for what the job market is doing.  Write down every question you can think of.  Then go through the list and pick out the big, weighty, important ones-the ones you have to resolve.  Put them in a chart and then consider where to find the answer and how you can answer the question completely-what will it take.

Using these three lists will help define the career or job you want, narrow the search and guide you in asking questions in interviews.

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