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Here’s some insight. Depending on your browser and Google search settings, you can start typing and Google will suggest search topics based on what it sees. If you start typing in, “how to figure out what…” Google automatically suggests you may be searching results for “how to figure out what you’re interested in.”

Which means that more people have recently searched using this phrase than anything else using those words. And, that means it’s a question a lot of people would like help with. So, don’t sweat it if you’re struggling with the idea of what to do and your future career. You’re in good company.

“Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?”

This may very well be the most popular question asked of anyone who says they’re not sure what to pursue as a career. It’s meant to make you think, and it might give you some insight, but who really knows what things will be like 1,825 days from now? Or, as author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was fond of telling people, “Keep your hat on. We may end up miles from here.”

But, even if we don’t know what we want to do and where we see ourselves in five years, it’s still important to give it some serious thought. It will reward you with an idea you can pursue. Once you have that idea, it will help you think about what you want or need to learn in the next five years.

If you pick a lifestyle you want to pursue, as opposed to a job title, it can help you focus on what you’re really interested in.

Mission and Vision

You’ve probably read that many successful companies choose the course they follow based on a mission statement or a vision statement. There’s no reason why you can’t apply this to figure out your own personal course.

  • Pick your principles. Grab a notebook or open up a blank page on a word processor. Write down your personal beliefs. Focus some of these on how it means you should act. Yeah, this probably sounds like you need to light some candles and put on New Age music. It might be weird to list out your morals and beliefs if you’ve never done it before. You want to figure out what you’re interested in, don’t you?
  • Then, pick out what you’ll need to learn about to live these principles. Let’s say one of your principles is to help others. What specific things get you excited about this? Would you like to use technology to help others? Or, do you like building things with your hands that will help them? Where do you want to live? What kind of hours would you want to work? Answering these questions narrows in on what kind of work might interest you—and it certainly helps you decide what you’ll need to learn along the way.

Forget Following Your Passion

Wait, what?

There’s a growing belief that telling people to “follow your passion” only makes them chase after answers to questions that can’t be answered. Being told to follow your passion sets your focus on what the world can offer you. How does that help you figure out what you’re interested in?

Instead, focus on what you can offer to the world. You’ll have a much better idea of what you can offer when you go through the exercise of picking your principles and what’s needed to learn to live them. When you turn your attention outward like this, you can quickly find out what you have to learn so you can offer that value.

Check out some of the rewards that a job in the trades can offer. Are they in line with how you’d like to live? Take this quiz and find out which trade is right for you.