By: Teresa Peterson

We’re probably about the same age and it’s likely that we wake up each day with similar questions racing through our heads.

Did I send any ludicrous text messages to my ex last night?
What am I doing with my life?
Why does it feel like I’m living in Quantum Leap (1989, 5 season series about a dude who essentially starts life from scratch every day…for five seasons)?
What is my dream job? What is my passion? Why do I feel so damn lost?

You know, the usual slew of career and life deciding questions. It’s overwhelming and to be honest it’s unfair to expect a definitive answer to such questions, especially in your twenties.

That doesn’t mean we don’t feel the need to have answers though, does it?

There a few things that can help when it comes to figuring it out. Remember that

  1. Nothing is permanent (change is after all the only constant in life)
  2. Own the decisions you make (one of the worst decisions is to not make a decision at all)
  3. You take yourself wherever you go (landing the “perfect” job, apartment, or paycheck isn’t going to change who you are or how you feel about you)
  4. Align your intentions with your actions (as life coach Stephanie Zamora says “Clarifying your intentions is key to understanding how exactly you need to be, act, speak and show up in order to create what you desire in your life.”)

To dig a little deeper let’s focus on the “dream job” question. I graduated from college a year ago now. Long enough to feel crazy about not knowing what I’m doing or what I really want to do. I had this awesome job right out of college and I quit a little less than a year into my full time career because I knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. Here’s where I went wrong though, I thought that the career I was working at was the end of the line, which completely freaked me out. Maybe I would have listened if someone had told me to take a step back and realize that what we’re doing now isn’t necessarily going to be what we do for the rest of our lives. The people at Forbes magazine say that “Job Hopping is the ‘New Normal’ for Millenials” and to me that means it is okay to commit to learning something new or to being great at what you’re currently doing without panicking and framing your current occupation as your eternal ball and chain.

Maybe you know your entry-level “marketing” job is not forever but if you’re like me and you’re set on creating a career path guideline of sorts, it helps to think about what drives you to get up each day and keep working.

That’s where the “Value Clarification Exercise” courtesy of Career Services at the University of Colorado at Boulder comes in. It’s simple. You read the job descriptions and highlight the ones that sound appealing to you. Next you rank them from 1 to 5 and finally you line those up with the values on the final pages of the .PDF.

Here’s mine:

  1. Friendship/Relationships: Work which offers opportunity to socialize and build relationship with others. Maintaining old and developing new relationships is a high priority.
  2. Variety: Work that provides the opportunity to do many different types of jobs/projects with frequent changes in routine.
  3. Good Health: This work requires being physically and emotionally healthy. Maintaining optimal physical and emotional health and serving as a living example of maximum vitality.
  4. Recognition/Prestige: Work which provides a chance to gain attention and acknowledgement from others for your work.
  5. Peace/Harmony: Work which requires peace between groups, people, or nations. Work that requires mediation, creating harmony, and peaceful relations. Requires good listening and communication skills.

My results weren’t all that surprising, yours probably won’t be either but it’s nice to know you know yourself. Awareness of my job values doesn’t give me one concrete career path to follow but I don’t see that as a limitation. It is instead an opportunity to create my own personalized path to success. I know I can’t thrive in an environment working alone because relationships are my number one value. See how that works?

Take a moment, download the .PDF, do the exercise, and see what happens.

Oh and I’d be stoked if you shared your top 5 with me (Instagram or Twitter; whichever works for you).