Approved Business Partners
Question: How do I pick my major if I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up? Answer: Start with the end in mind. As with writing a speech, you determine what your objective is and what it is you hope to instill in your audience, and only THEN do you begin to write your speech. Make sense? Same with job searching, picking a major, choosing internships, finding related clubs and activities, and more: You begin with the end in mind. Related: 3 Ways To Increase Your Job Satisfaction Every step you take, even in the moment, is another step on a path that will lead to one place or some other. Once you define you want to go north, south, or anywhere in between, you can take out a compass and start down the path. I tell people just starting college, “job satisfaction years from now will be affected by the decisions you make today.” That being the case, why not try to define “job satisfaction” now? For many young people, the reason they don’t is they don’t yet know what job they want. Nonetheless, without a sense of what “job satisfaction” may be for you, it will be very difficult to pick the right major; so let’s start with that – job satisfaction.

5-Step Method For Defining Job Satisfaction

At the core of job satisfaction is an understanding of what it is you enjoy most. To understand what it is you enjoy most, you have to define ALL you enjoy, from most to least; an exercise that will help lead to a decision regarding not only your major, but internships and future job development. Sound enticing? That’s why we approach this not as an exercise to pick a major but to define job satisfaction (we begin with the end in mind). Afterward, we will see how it can lead you back to defining your major, so let’s begin!

1. Determine What Job Satisfaction Means To You

For some, job satisfaction stems from the challenges in the job or a sense of purpose. For others, it's more extrinsic and may be measured by the money they make. Or, it may come from the learning that takes place or from knowing their work matters. Finally, for others, simply having a job to go to everyday in order to have other things in life is fine, and it's from accepting that they derive their satisfaction.

2. Define Factors For Your Job Satisfaction

Defining the factors for your own job satisfaction requires you jumping all the way back to the beginning. This could be your first job as, for example, a life guard in a day camp at 16 or a paper route at 12. However, instead of identifying duties, responsibilities, and job descriptions as you might for a resume, look at your successes and the underpinnings of those successes. Underpinnings such as:
  • Instinctive skills – the automatic, the intuitive, creative skills that you drew upon at that time
  • Learned skills – that might be customer service, inventory control, basic accounting or program management
Don’t limit yourself to jobs either. You have successes from other experiences that may be relevant and transferable. An example is leading a youth group or charitable work through a church or synagogue, or writing a newsletter for your bowling league. Maybe even helping a parent or friend put together a website for a business.

3. Consider Other Successes Outside The Workplace

When you take this walk-through, consider the following: alumni associations, community and civic organizations, councils with which you may have been involved, teams on which you played, or Boards on which you served.

4. Identify Success Attributes

Once you have all these successes on the table, you can identify (a) actual skills, (b) personal characteristics, (c) professional characteristics and (d) knowledge areas, inherent or learned that you drew upon to succeed. These are the "underpinnings" or as I refer to them, success attributes, many of which may be derived from core competencies you possess. Don't stop here!

5. Divide Motivated And Unmotivated Successes

On a piece a paper, set up a “T-Chart” with Motivated and Unmotivated Successes written across the top of your sheet as your left and right headings, respectively. Next, divide and list your “success attributes” defined in step 4 above, into your two groups under the headings.
  • Motivated successes - those you are interested in perpetuating
  • Unmotivated success – though they are successes, they are those which you have little or no interest in perpetuating
The motivated successes describe those skills, competencies, and attributes you not only work with and perform well, but enjoy doing – they motivate you. The others may also be skills, competencies, attribute areas with and in which you perform well, maybe even very well, but don’t hold your interest – they don’t motivate. For example, maybe you're terrific at editing research reports but don't enjoy it. If your boss learns that you're good at it, editing research reports might become 20% of what you do. Well, there goes 20% of your job satisfaction out the window. Agreed? In other words, if you don’t think you’ll enjoy it, don’t get caught doing it! Many people get caught doing something they don't enjoy and it becomes part of their job. This will determine their level of angst - the most severe requires them to pull themselves out of bed every morning and drag themselves to work. How many people like that have you met in your life? They live for Fridays and vacations. Hey, life's too short! Once you have defined and thus classified your success attributes, you have laid the groundwork and are well on your way to defining the "best fit" for what might be your first career position after you’re graduated. With that done, you may be able to back up to the moment, the present time, and with some guidance from people you know and trust (family, peers, your school’s career development office, a career coach) you can begin to lay a path moving forward. A friend once said to me, “If I knew job satisfaction was so elusive, I wouldn’t have spent half my life looking for it.” I asked him to define what job satisfaction for him would be. He said, “I’ll know when I find it,” hence the reason it's been so elusive. When you know what it is you can do, and moreover, want to do because you enjoy it most, you are in the best position to capitalize on the opportunities that await you in school, outside, and beyond. And, why? We are at our best when doing what we enjoy most. Today, you take the first step! This post was originally published at an earlier date.

Related Posts

4 Things You Can Do To Be Happier At Work Today In Pursuit Of Happiness: Love What You Do 7 Ways Women Can Achieve Happiness & Satisfaction In Their Careers Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Name: ZipRecruiter Websites: Find a Job: Post a Job: Read More From ZipRecruiter: Facebook: /ZipRecruiter Twitter: @ZipRecruiter LinkedIn: /company/ZipRecruiter Bio: ZipRecruiter exists to make recruitment and job search as fast and easy as possible. Active and passive job seekers alike can benefit from ZipRecruiter's job alerts program. Simply enter your search criteria and start to receive highly targeted job openings in a daily or weekly email. If you prefer to be more hands-on, then visit ZipRecruiter to search millions of openings from across the web. There, you can also upload your resume into the resume database so you can be found by employers in your area. Start Now » Employers and recruiters can benefit from ZipRecruiter's job board distribution service, which posts jobs to 30 leading job boards and social networks with a single submission. Candidates from all sources are organized into a single list, where hiring teams can work together to screen, rate, label, and share candidates. Learn More » Articles: 5 Things You Should Be Doing if You’re Unemployed Cure Your Career Uncertainty in 7 Steps 6 Reasons Internships Are a Must in College 9 Ways to Make the Wrong Impression on Your First Day 5 Things to Ask in a Job Interview How to Answer 7 of the Most Common Interview Questions 6 Reasons You Should Say ‘Yes’ to Any Job Interview The Worst Reasons To Pick A Career Path Preparing For An Interview: Step-By-Step Guide How To Conduct A Job Search Why You Should Remember Murphy’s Law Before Your Next Job Interview
Name: Websites: Twitter: @totaljobscom Bio: is a leading Job search and career advice site. They currently have over 100,000 vacancies available across a huge variety of industries. Resources: Read Career Advice » Search for Graduate Jobs » Articles: 3 Essential Factors to Boost Your Chances of Landing a Job 4 Interview Prep Tips You Can’t Afford to Skip Sell Yourself to a Potential Employer With Your CV
Name: Ruth Cameron Website: Twitter: @rcamero45 LinkedIn: /in/ruthcameron Bio: Ruth Cameron has over 22 years’ experience in Corporate America; managing technical projects; designing processes; and developing and implementing business strategies. In her second act of life she has become a Financial Advisor so she can combine her entrepreneurial side with her passion for helping individuals, small business owners and families to create an inspiring financial strategy based on their values and goals. Ruth is a financial advisor with, and securities are offered through, LPL Financial Member SIPC ( Ruth is registered to sell securities in the following states: CO, WA. Affiliations: Colorado Financial Partners LPL Financial Articles: The #1 Financial Mistake Career Changers Make 6 Tips to Managing Your Finances During a Career Transition Working Past Your Normal Retirement Age What is Your Job’s Real Hourly Wage?
Name: Websites: [Job Search Engine] Don't Suck at Your Job [Blog] Twitter: @justjobs LinkedIn: [Connect with the CEO] Bio: is a job search engine that finds job listings from company career pages, other job boards, newspapers and associations. With one search, they help you find the job with your name on it. Resource: FREE Job Search Engine Articles: Learn the Career Path of an Architect Learn the Career Path of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Career Path Reality Check for a Marketing Manager Graphic Designer Talks About His Career Path Registered Nurse Talks About Her Career Path Learn the Career Path of an Aircraft Load Master Understand the Career Path of an Electrician Know the Career Path of an Educational Marketer Learn the Career Path of a Lawyer Improve Your Work Instant Messaging Skills Lack of Knowledge Puts Business Writer’s Job in Jeopardy Leave No Stone Unturned in Your Job Search Learn the Career Path of a Preschool Teacher Career Interview with E-Commerce Professional Job Search Experience in New York City’s Arts Community Career Advice from a Production Supervisor Job Search Advice for an Environmental Biologist Job Interview with a Social Services Case Manager Using Situational Awareness in Your Career Sales Consultant Describes His Career Change Rebuilding Confidence Was Key to His Job Search The Power of Preparation in Your Job Search Nurse’s Aide Embraces Patients as Part of Her Family Learn About the Career of a New York City EMT What it’s Like Being a Retail Sales Associate Learn the Career Path of a Technical Sales Representative Assembly Line Worker of 25 Years Feels at Home on the Job Female Engineer Designs Buildings Throughout Her City Career Information for a Mechanical Engineer Career Information for a Bilingual Clinic Assistant Associate Director of Development Helps the Disabled Career Planning Facilitator Helps Displaced Workers Find New Jobs Counselor Finds Her Calling Working With High-risk Teens Career Interview With a Civil Engineer Learn the Career Path of a UPS Tractor-Trailer Driver Learn the Career Path of a Marine Biologist Career Interview With a Registered Nurse Job Path: Interview With a Video Editor Job Path: Working in the Transportation Industry 3 Important Job Search Skills You Need to Succeed Job Profile: Advertising Executive Career Path of a Production Manager The Pros and Cons of a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Job Job Insight: Working as a Business Executive The Inside View of a Restaurant Chef Job The Job Path of a Corporate Financial Officer Job Path of a Diversity Consultant Working in the Event Planning Business Searching for a Career? Check Out Paleontology! The Career Path of a Human Resources Manager My Career as a Pharmacy Technician The Career Path of a Talent Agent Job Search: Is Event Planning Right for You? Learn the Career Path of a Computer Technician Explore the Career Path of an Online Technical Writer Jobs We ‘Like’ – Social Media Manager Is a Career in Graphic Design Right for You? Is a Marketing Manager Career Right for You? Law and Order: Career as a Lawyer Should You Consider a Career in Financial Planning? Career Path of a Doctor Exploring a Career in Blogging Discover the Career Path of an Editor Is a Job as a Loan Officer Right for You? Career Path of a Project Manager Discover the Inner Workings of a Psychologist Career Career Transition: From Artist to Art Teacher Learn the Career of a Technical Writer Career Path: From Military to Writing What I Learned from My Job Search The Transition from College to Career Learn the Rewarding Job as a Fine Arts Counselor How I Learned to Leverage Online Job Search Tools How I Succeeded at Sales Despite Academic Challenges Transition to Work: From Single Mom to Computer Programmer My Job as an Online Marketing Professional Skills You Can Learn as Sales Representative How Real Work in College Can Help You Land a Career Explore the Career Path of an Architect My Job as an Art Investor Why Changing Your Career Path Might Be Worth It My Job as a Sports Coach How to Conduct a Successful Job Search My Job Search Lessons Should You Be An Editor? Discover a Career in Entertainment Marketing Working as a Mechanic: No Degree, No Problem Teaching Music: Is It the Right Career for You? An Inside Look at a Career in Nursing Career Choice: Working as a Physical Therapist Are You Cut Out for a Job in Politics? My Experience Working Abroad
Name: Kaplan Open Learning UK Website: Twitter: @KOLOnline LinkedIn: /company/kaplan-open-learning Bio: Kaplan Open Learning and the University of Essex are working together to offer online degrees to working adults in the UK. This affiliation helps to widen participation in UK higher education and enhance the aggregate skill set of the UK workforce. If you are working full or part time, our online degree courses will provide you with a flexible means of achieving a UK university qualification. Articles: The Facts About Online Education Boost Your Career By Learning at Home Using Online Resources to Boost Your Education