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CliftonStrengths
One Question to Answer Before Deciding Your Career Path
CliftonStrengths

One Question to Answer Before Deciding Your Career Path

by Jessica Buono

Story Highlights

  • Simply put, everyone wants to do more of what they're good at.
  • Regardless of your role, you can use your strengths to improve performance.
  • Don't know your strengths? Start here.

Remember the saying that we all wanted to believe as kids? You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.

Most of us have realized that it's not exactly true and that what we "want to be" changes as we get older.

As adults, we realize that what's important is not a title, like "astronaut" -- but instead, fulfilling our basic desire to be good at something and to receive respect and recognition for it.

One of the best ways to end up in the kind of career that earns you respect, recognition, success and happiness is to do more of what you're good at.

Those who get to do what they do best every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.

Whether you feel stuck in your current job or you're starting to explore new career options, you can use your CliftonStrengths to improve your effectiveness and increase your performance -- in any role.

The exact job you really want is more likely to become clear to you when you understand what you're naturally good at and what brings you the respect you're looking for.

Ask yourself one question to better understand what career path is right for you.

The problem that most people have with finding the right career is that they are solely looking for a prescribed profession. Yet, even those who have chosen an exact field (like architecture, law or engineering) still often question whether they chose the right one and wonder if they would've had more success if they'd chosen another path.

One of the best ways to end up in the kind of career that earns you respect, recognition, success and happiness is to do more of what you're good at.

So, instead of thinking about what profession or industry you want to be in, dive deeper into your motivations for thinking, feeling and behaving -- get to know what you really enjoy and what gives you energy.

First, think about what tasks you perform with ease, excellence and enjoyment during a typical workweek.

Make a list of these tasks. You are likely capitalizing on your natural talents to get them done.

Of the items you listed, identify one that is the most important or produces the greatest success. Let's call it your strongest moment.

Focus more closely on your strongest moment, and answer this one question: What made that moment great for you?

Maybe you:

  • closed a huge sale, putting you in line to be the highest-selling rep for the year
  • started working on a project with your best friend at work
  • checked every task off your extensive to-do list before noon
  • spent part of your day reading new materials from leading experts in your field

To explore this more, refer to your CliftonStrengths results and think about what talent themes and strengths domains you were tapping into at that moment:

Executing
In your strongest moment, what specifically did you do to ensure your work was executed efficiently and effectively? More broadly, did you choose a specific way to get it done, or did you go with the flow?

Influencing
Which strengths did you use to help others see things from your perspective? What CliftonStrengths theme did you naturally turn to in order to influence others?

Relationship Building
What helped you to engage with others, build friendships, make connections and grow your network? Were you relating deeply to a select few, or were you making connections with anyone and everyone? Maybe both?

Strategic Thinking
How did you generate ideas, solve problems or make decisions? What strengths helped you do that?

Haven't discovered your unique strengths? Take the assessment today to get your customized report.

Consider this: There are ways to strengthen those same talents that went into making that moment such a memorable one -- ways to help you feel more motivated, inspired, ambitious or capable of doing the job you're already doing. You can replicate that moment over and over again.

You can borrow some of the ingredients that made your strongest moment so great and apply them to new ways of approaching the tasks you enjoy less. Even if your current role isn't perfectly suited for your talents, you can still "work" it in a way that allows what you do well to shine.

And don't make the mistake of thinking that just because something is easy for you, it's easy for everyone. We often see the things that come naturally to us as less valuable because they're easy. But what comes naturally to you is where you will be at your best.

What career should I pursue now that I know my strengths?

For some of you, your answers to the questions above will reveal exactly why you're in the role you're in; for others, it might make you realize that something is "off" and that what you're currently doing doesn't allow you to do what you do best often enough.

Whichever situation you find yourself in, you can use what you learn to better align your talents with how you go about doing your job every day.

You can borrow some of the ingredients that made your strongest moment so great and apply them to new ways of approaching the tasks you enjoy less.

Start by talking with your manager about any ideas you have for using your strengths more often -- they will know of projects and partnerships that will allow you to use your most dominant themes.

And now the ultimate truth ...

You probably can't be anything you want to be because you just can't be good at everything. But if you know and apply your strengths in your role, you can be more successful. Your CliftonStrengths don't determine or limit your career choices. Here's the bottom line: Using your strengths makes work more enjoyable. When you like what you do, you become better at it.

Remember, the most important step in finding career success is not asking, "What career should I have?" It's about aligning the things you naturally do best with what you actually do every day -- allowing you to improve or excel in just about any career.

So, while the notion from childhood mentioned at the beginning of this article might not feel true anymore, it can lead us to a better truth, which is: You can be successful by doing what you're naturally good at.

Next, read "How to Answer, 'What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?' in a Job Interview."

For more on CliftonStrengths and your career:

Author(s)

Jessica Buono's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Individualization, Activator, Strategic, Woo and Learner.


Gallup https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/328322/one-question-answer-deciding-career-path.aspx
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