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7 Ways To Match Your Talents And Ambitions To Your Dream Career

7 Ways To Match Your Talents And Ambitions To Your Dream Career

A dream job requires three things: It must be a good fit for your abilities, match your goals, and make you happy. Finding a career with all three of those ingredients isn’t easy, but with the right strategies you can uncover a vocation that will bring you satisfaction. Below are seven ways you can match your talents and ambitions to your dream career.

1. Take an Aptitude Test

An aptitude test is the most obvious path to discovering your dream career. It can be an effective option, too, if you choose the right one. The Clifton Strengths Finder is a well-regarded personal assessment test that’s been taken by thousands of people. It theorizes that everyone possesses a certain number of fixed, universal personal-character attributes that together result in a tendency to develop certain skills more easily and succeed in certain fields while being less successful in others. The test is 80 questions long, takes roughly 20-30 minutes to complete, and reveals the test-taker’s top five “talent themes.” With those in hand, you can search for work where you can best make use of those strengths.

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2. Ask The Right Questions

A key component to finding answers is knowing which questions to ask. Forbes posted a fill-in-the-blank assessment that breaks down the big question (“What’s my dream career?”) into nine simpler ones. Your responses to those will reveal patterns and help show you what you really want to be doing with your life.

3. Make Lists

List-making is one of the tried-and-true ways of reaching a decision. During your search for a dream career, try creating three lists: what you’re talented at, what makes you happy, and what your goals are. The lengthier the lists are, the better; jot down whatever comes to mind. After you’re done, look for correlations between the lists. What falls into all three categories? What activities fulfill all of the necessary requirements of your dream career?

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4. Ask Others’ Opinions

Sometimes you don’t have the best perspective on your own life. Friends and family often understand aspects of you better than you understand yourself. Ask people close to you what activities they think that you excel at and are happiest doing. Their answers could propel you onto a completely different career trajectory than you expected.

5. Conduct Informational Interviews

Once you’ve got an idea of what you’d like to be doing for a living, learn from someone who’s already in your dream field. Arrange an informational interview with someone who has the career you think you want, and find out the realities of his or her industry. Figure out if the job is really something that you’re interested in, and if your skills match up with the duties it entails.

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6. Get Some Experience

After you find the career you think will fulfill you, try it out for a while. Look for opportunities to job shadow, intern, or volunteer in your profession of choice. It will give you a chance to immerse yourself in that work environment and find out if it’s somewhere you’ll be comfortable. You probably won’t get paid for it at first, but that’s one of the costs of looking for a job you love, which leads to my next point.

7. Think Long Term

Don’t just think about what will make you happy right now. Consider what lifestyle you’ll be comfortable with in the future. A lot of dream jobs don’t pay well, so ask yourself if you’re willing to give up some of life’s luxuries so you can be happy to go to work everyday. Make sure that you know what you’re sacrificing if you leave your current occupation to pursue a less predictable career path.

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Featured photo credit: Flazingo Photos via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Freelance Writer, Marketer

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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