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In order to get at what really makes you uniquely you, you need to invest time and energy into self-assessment and learning about the options in the workforce that align with what matters to you. Think about how you chose which college to attend or how you selected your first job. Did you read about those you were considering online? Did you research which schools had courses of study which appealed to you? Did you talk to people who had experience with that organization, asking them what the people and the work were like? Did you visit the place, meet the people who learned and worked there? Did you get a “vibe” of whether it seemed like a good fit for you?

When I was a high school junior, my dad sat me down and asked me what was important to me in a potential college. I said I wanted one with excellent academic programs, a successful pre-med track option, an inviting Christian student group, and warmer weather than New Hampshire. He helped me make a spreadsheet with these factors and handed me the thick Princeton Review book so I could find out where each of the schools on my list stood in each area. Based on this, we selected a handful to visit over spring break. Two of the schools, who are highly regarded nationally, were so snobby in their information session, I didn’t even bother to go on their tours. I knew that wasn’t the environment for me. As soon as we arrived at William & Mary, I knew it felt right. My parents wanted me to explain why, but it was hard to put into words – I just got that “vibe” that this was the right place for me. If you really want to identify your sweet spot, you need to be willing to take the time to research, evaluate, and experience the options before you.

If you have the opportunity to realign at this point, consider this principle—the amount of work you’re willing to put in up front in understanding your deeply rooted values, interests and strengths will directly correlate with the satisfaction you experience in the long run. Most of us do not know much about the world of work outside those careers in our families and those with whom we interact in our daily lives—teachers, police, doctors, and so on. A wealth of jobs and industries are available you may never have heard of. Take the time to explore them. Read about them in professional publications, magazines, or online. Talk to people who have been engaged in these fields, whether they are friends who work in the industry or people who hold jobs you think are interesting. Go test the waters—ask if you can shadow a professional for a day, volunteer your time and skills, take an internship. Just as in the search for a college, the more information you gather to compare to your needs and wants, the better a match you’ll be able to make.

To buy the book:

Excerpt from Sweet Spot: Finding Your Career at Any Age, Adapted from page 69-70

Co-authored by Bruce Dreisbach and Katybeth Lee

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