How To Figure Out What You Want To Do (With Steps and Tips)

Updated February 16, 2023

It can sometimes be challenging to figure out what you want to do professionally that's truly fulfilling. Whether you're just starting on your career path or you've been on the job several years and want a change, deciding what you want to do can ultimately lead to a rewarding work environment. Researching career fields and evaluating different aspects of your life can help you figure out what you want to do in your professional career.

In this article, we discuss different steps to determine what you're passionate about and pursue your ideal job, along with some tips that can help you achieve a fulfilling career.

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Why should you take time to figure out what you want to do?

Taking the time to evaluate and consider what kind of career you'd like to pursue or what kind of passions you want to turn into your work can help you find the most rewarding job to suit your lifestyle. It's important to assess your strengths and skills and apply these aspects if you want to pursue or create your dream job. Figuring out what truly motivates you and keeps you driven to succeed can be an excellent way to make a needed career change or transition into a new field.

Related: How To Choose the Right Career Path for You in 9 Steps

How to figure out what you want to do

There are several ways to help you figure out what to do professionally. Following a variety of tips and steps can help guide you through the process of discovering your true passions. Here are some steps you can follow that can help you reflect and discover your next career path:

1. Evaluate your current situation

Think about your current job role, if you're working, and what you like and don't like about it. Consider the skills and strengths you apply to your job and where you feel your weaknesses are. Doing this can give you insight into which aspects of your work you enjoy and are passionate about. You might also list the type of work you enjoy doing and the advantages and disadvantages of your current professional situation so you can get an idea of what you want and don't what as part of your next career move.

Related: Defining Job Satisfaction

2. Identify what you're passionate about

Start thinking about what motivates you and makes you excited to get up every morning. Think about the types of things you would do if you had unlimited time and financial security. This is what your passion is. When you figure out what you're passionate about doing, you have a deeper understanding of the type of career field that can be rewarding for you. You can use this insight to start researching career paths and making a plan to help you pursue your dream job.

Related: How To Find Your Passion

3. Determine the sacrifices you're willing to make

After brainstorming different aspects of your current career and finding what you're genuinely passionate about, it's important to determine what kind of sacrifices you're willing to make to get there. For example, if you decide that you want to transition to a career as a registered nurse, it's important to understand that you could be working long shifts, and it may take a little while to complete additional education. This insight can help you make effective decisions about careers that surpass what you're willing to sacrifice.

Related: 30 Best Pieces of Career Advice No One Ever Told You

4. Make a plan for growth and development

Continue to plan for professional growth and development. This can also lead to growth and development in other aspects of your life, which can help determine what you truly want to do in the future. Make time to attend skill training, such as a technology course, as it relates to your field of interest. Similarly, continue improving any skills or professional areas that may be weaker than others.

For example, if you're passionate about coaching or mentoring others, but you feel your communication skills can use some improvement, find ways to strengthen your skills. This might involve taking a communication course, like formal writing or public speaking. Or, you might simply start practicing your communication skills more and ask your peers for feedback, which can help you further enhance this skill set.

5. Set goals that help you move toward what you want to do

Always set short-term and long-term goals to motivate you to reach your ideal career or get closer to that end. Ensure you set clear objectives that encourage you to take action consistently. For instance, if your passion and dream is to create websites, set weekly objectives like creating a web page to showcase your coding skills or another specific short-term goal that adds to your goal of pursuing your passion.

Related: 14 Short-Term Goals To Improve Your Career Today

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Tips for finding a fulfilling career

Pursuing a career you're passionate about and enjoy can be especially rewarding and fulfilling. The following tips can help you achieve this level of fulfillment when figuring out what you want to do:

Look at what you want to do rather than what you should do

Try to avoid fulfilling what you think others believe you should be doing. Instead, assess your life goals and find areas of work where you can exercise your creativity, solve analytical problems or whatever passion you want to make into your career. Some questions you might ask to help find what you want to do include:

  • What gives you a sense of purpose?

  • What are your values?

  • What gives you a sense of accomplishment?

  • Who do you admire and why?

  • How do you envision your future self?

  • What don't you want?

Related: 6 Ways To Find Your Passion for a More Fulfilling Life

Talk to professionals in the field you're passionate about

Observe professionals in the fields you're passionate about to learn more about what it's like to do that type of work. This is especially useful for asking questions about the industry and learning about aspects of the career field that may require sacrifice. This also helps you gather as much information as possible before you move into any given career field.

Related: 47 Questions To Ask Someone You Admire About Their Job

Seek opportunities to learn more about your field of interest

If there is an opportunity to volunteer for a short time doing the job you want to do, take advantage of it. This can give you an inside look at what your passion can entail should you pursue a career in the industry or role. Likewise, a job shadow or informational interview with someone who currently performs your dream job can also give you more information about your chosen career.

Commit to continuous professional and self-development

When you know exactly what you want to do for your career, it's important to continue developing the skills that can add to your success in your job. For instance, if you're focused on pursuing a car sales career, developing your customer service, communication, interpersonal and technology skills can be important for career success. Continuous improvement might involve simply practicing your skills more, attending educational seminars, watching informal lectures or attending classes at a local college or university.

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