‘What in the WORLD Should I Do With My Life?’: How to Identify Your Skills and Choose an Industry You’ll Excel in

If you’re like me, you were probably asked this question a lot when you were young:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This seemingly harmless inquiry always came from my parents’ well meaning friends who assumed that I’d have my life figured out by the time I was 10.

And back then, it was a no brainer. 

“A Rockstar!” I would squeal – or “The President” when I was feeling ambitious.

But as I got older, this question became more and more intimidating – suddenly, I didn’t have a clear answer. Instead, I had random skills in different areas and no idea how to fit any of them together into an actual career. The amount of options that were available was overwhelming, leaving me feeling frozen in a state of inaction because I didn’t know what my next move was going to be.

After having a couple minor mental breakdowns, I began doing research by Googling, ‘How to know what I want to do with my life’ (always a good place to start). I came across a few interesting ideas and later created a 6 step process that I call Skill Mapping. Inspired by a four question program for entrepreneurs created by author and business coach Ramit Sethi, Skill Mapping will help you:

1.) Identify your skills

2.) Group them based on their commonalities

3.) Pinpoint industries in which you can excel using these skills

So if you are unsure of where you fit in the grand scheme of things, grab a piece of paper and a pen and complete these six simple steps.

1.) Write down 20 things that are either:

  • Skills you have developed/used in past jobs
  • Skills you have developed/used in your personal life
  • Things you can do that make you unique
  • Things you enjoy doing

This might seem a little ambiguous at first, but these could be anything and everything – don’t limit yourself! If you’re having trouble thinking of all 20, ask your friends or family what they believe you’re good at. They might come up with things you wouldn’t have even considered.

  • Ex: “I’m good at steering conversations.”, “I explain things well”, “I’m detail oriented” , “I enjoy editing videos”, “I make a mean pasta”, etc.

2.) Split your 20 skills into four groups based on which ones can be loosely correlated. Label the groupings in a way that describes what is in them.

    3.) Look at the four categories and the skills you have listed under them. Identify which two groupings contain the majority of your strongest skills.

    • For me, it would be my communication and entrepreneurial groups.

    4.) Think about what industries you have even been remotely interested in. List at least five.

    • Ex: Archaeology, Business, Music, Motivational Speaking, Software Engineering

    5.) Now analyze your two skill groups and five industry choices. Which industry could you see your listed skills best serving?

    • Mine seem to fit best in business because I can use my communication skills in meetings, phone calls and presentations, while using my entrepreneurial skills to hit deadlines, solve problems, and take the lead on projects.

    6.) Finally, do research on the jobs within this industry. Out of all of the career choices, which one do you think you could excel at and enjoy the most?

    • I think that I would be a good team lead, manager, or CEO because of my ability to lead, communicate well, and keep myself and others on task. But I have to work my way to that point within a company. So my next choice is sales. Being in sales in a tech startup allows me to use all of my skills in those two groupings while working my way up to the position that I eventually want to have.

    It’s important to remember that you are not required to stay in your chosen job or industry forever. Once you have found a job you think you could enjoy, just go for it. Whether you stumble upon your lifelong passion or decide later that it’s not of you, no work experience is wasted experience. You can take take whatever you learn from this job and apply it elsewhere in your life. You just have to get started!

    Originally published November 29th, 2017 on bevalyouable.com