How to Figure Out What I'm Good At

by Rick Leander

Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” but for someone choosing a career, finding that passion can be difficult. It often takes several tries before even the most successful people find their life’s calling, so take some time to examine what you enjoy, then find a way to turn it into a career. Life is too short to spend it doing something you do not enjoy.

How You Spend Your Day

Take a few minutes at the end of each day to write down things that you did that were memorable or interesting. It may be a class discussion at school or a television program or movie. Analyze the parts that you found interesting. Track these notes over a few weeks then look for recurring themes. You may find that you were drawn to news coverage of political issues or weather events and your interests lie in politics or meteorology. If you like to initiate social gatherings, you may have leadership potential, or if you enjoy sitting alone reading, research may be more to your liking.

Career Interest Tests

A career interest test can offer new insights and alternatives outside of your every day experiences. Search the Internet for free exams offered by career search sites or colleges. Find sites that allow you to take the test anonymously then answer the questions to see where your interests lie. More comprehensive tests can often be found at your school’s career or counseling office so take advantage of these when available. While focused towards traditional career choices, the tests can point you towards jobs that match your personality and interests.

Find Alternatives

Take some time to research the subjects and jobs you find interesting. Search the Internet for profiles of people who do these jobs, find books or videos on the subjects and see how other people make a living pursuing these interests. While researching these subjects, find related topics that also look interesting. If you feel drawn toward recent weather events, research the science behind meteorology, but also see if your interest lies in how the event affected people, the work of emergency responders, or even the news gathering process itself.

Get Involved

Once you find an interest, give it a try. You may want to write a research paper for school, do a science project or spend some time volunteering. Talk to people you know who do these jobs to find ways to participate. A subject may sound fascinating, but once you do it, you may find that it was not what you anticipated. Do not despair, just keep trying. It often takes many tries before you find your passion. Bill Gates went to Harvard to become a lawyer like his father, but found that academics were far less interesting than computer programming. He dropped out of college to pursue his passion for computers, founded Microsoft and became one of the richest men in the world.

About the Author

Rick Leander lives in the Denver area and has written about software development since 1998. He is the author of “Building Application Servers” and is co-author of “Professional J2EE EAI." Leander is a professional software developer and has a Masters of Arts in computer information systems from Webster University.