I’ve talked to multiple friends over the past few weeks who are considering starting a new direction in their careers. As they describe how they are thinking about their next phase, they tend to start with their experiences and their skills, and talk about their options based on what they think they can get. Like they’re choosing from a menu at a restaurant.
I think this is the wrong approach.
What if we started with our interests instead? What do I like to do? What am I interested in? What do I think is important?
I’m not suggesting that you should search for some undefined passion before starting a new direction, or that you should only pursue work that speaks to your soul.
But I do believe our interests have value. If we’re interested, we’re more engaged, more focused, and more cheerful in our efforts. This attitude is a huge advantage, and worth paying attention to. And our interests can change in the future. But if a topic, industry, or idea engages us–we should pay attention.
So when you start a new direction, set your “Why” based on a forward-looking positive outlook grounded in your interests:
- I’m excited about the trend towards value-based healthcare
- I love the scaling new processes to grow a product
- I think the idea of networked teams can take collaborative productivity to a new level
Once you know your “why”, you can rightly view your experiences and skill sets to create a targeted perspective on the contribution you can make going to forward. You can understand what your positioning should be, where you are unique, and where you can add differentiating value.
Your experiences are essential, but don’t neglect your interests.