This is post three in a series called Design My Life about my journey to find my dream job. In the previous post I told a little story about how I found myself at a crossroad. I was sick, overworked and under-fulfilled. I realised I was not devoted to finding a job that energised me, instead I was settling for jobs that made me unhappy, just to pay for my shoe habit. In today’s post, I will explore the strategy I used to start to understand myself and my needs better. An exercise that proved to be more valuable than I could have ever imagined…

When I was at University, I read a book called What Makes Us Tick? by Hugh Mackay. In this book, Hugh details the needs and desires of human beings and how this drives behaviour. I found it really fascinating and used this knowledge when taking the next step in discovering what sort of work I would enjoy. I decided to dial the search back, as I pondered whether my dream job even exists yet – it may be something I need to create. For this reason, it was important for me to first understand myself and what needs and desires I am meeting when I am out in the work force.

The first thing I did, was to write down all of my old jobs on a pad of paper.

Next to each job, I wrote down what I liked about that role and why – I detailed what need was being met in the role.

This is an exercise in being truly honest with yourself. Some of the answers may be a little ego driven – but there is nothing wrong with that. If it makes you feel good to have people look up to you and respect you, own it. This is your life and you are entitled to want what you want. Some will tell you that you should never do anything from your ego, but our ego is a part of us. There are some things about our personality that are there to stay, whether they are socially appreciated or not. Better to accept this need, than punish ourselves for having it. You don’t have to feel guilty for wanting to be somebody.

Here is what I wrote (exactly):

Blogging – Sharing ideas. Connecting with others. Feeling of service to others. Entertaining others. Feeling significant. Writing and expressing myself creatively.

PhD in Medicine – Being paid to think, write, strategize and challenge myself. Status. Working with kids. Working on important projects that are larger than myself.

Conference Producer – Researching an idea and coming up with topics that will be interesting to the target audience. Creating something meaningful that will help others to learn and be the best they can in their careers and lives.

Photography – Taking reality and turning it into something better. A form of warping reality into the way I would like to see it, or how it looks in my head. Creating something beautiful. Sharing this beautiful thing with others so that they may also get happiness from it.

Bartender – Social. Make friends for life. Free wine.

These are just a few, but I even did this for my jobs as a teenager and student. A theme came through in all of these roles which gave me insight into what made me tick. What are the base needs I am trying to meet at work. For me, these were the following:

Making a difference/helping others
Educating others/sharing ideas
Creating beautiful things
Using intellect over practical skills
Being somebody of influence

Like I said – you have to get really honest.

Already, this information was a huge asset for me. I had found my drivers. The things that get me energised and passionate about whatever I am doing. I was starting to see that it may not matter if I was a photographer, or a clothing designer – in either role I would get to meet my need to create beauty. My academic career satisfied me for so long, as it met multiple needs. On the flip, going to work for a company that is purely driven by making money would not align. Money is great. I love money. But for me, sharing ideas and being of service to others is at the core of my value system. Going against this would cause me a certain level of unhappiness (more about values in the next post).

Already, I had a checklist. But I also had a far greater understanding of myself. Whether in my career, or in my everyday life, I need to find a way to meet these needs. This may mean meeting only one need through career and the rest through hobbies, not-for-profit etc.

Most importantly, I had stumbled accidentally upon the most fundamental part of the process – I figured out why I do what I do. And knowing why we do what we do is at the very core of success – it will set us apart from the pack. Remembering why we started will get us through some very dark times. If you haven’t already, watch the video at the end of this post. It is Simon Sinek’s Ted talk on the importance of knowing why we do what we do in business. Knowing this alone can take you to the next level in your career, give you an abundance of clarity and bring your goals into sharper focus.

Next Post – What Are My Core Values?

Much love xx

Photo: My own

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Hi, I’m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.

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