I frequently receive emails from readers asking for career advice. Most of these are related to my technical certification blogs and books and I do my best to answer every email I receive.
Recently, I received a lengthy email from a 24 year old reader in Bosnia asking for career advice. He identified himself as Elvis which I've since learned is a rather popular name in Bosnia. While his background is different than many other people, his questions are similar.
- "What should I do next?"
- "What should I actually pursue?"
Despite having a B.A. and being able to speak multiple languages (Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian, English, German, and Spanish), he hasn't had much luck finding a job or finding a path out of his country. His cousin gave him a copy of the CompTIA A+ Training Kit (Exam 220-801 and Exam 220-802) and he plans on getting the A+ certification, then Network+, and then other IT-related certifications with the hope that these will help him get a job and possibly emigrate to Germany.
Perhaps they will.
But what he should do next? What should he actually pursue?
My answers to readers aren't always very lengthy but something inspired me to give Elvis a more complete answer. After writing it, I realized that the same answer can apply to just about anyone no matter where they live so I've included it here.
The best recommendation I can give you is to look inside yourself and ask what you really want to be doing five years from now (or even a year from now).
Sit down and imagine yourself five years in the future. You look around at all you've achieved and accomplished and you decide to write out a list of everything that you're grateful for in your life.
Write the date (five years from today) at the top of the page and then start your list. Start each sentence with:
- I am grateful .....
And then finish the sentence with something that you are grateful for.
Dream big. Don't limit yourself and don't let your current situation affect you. Imagine that your friends, family, and the Universe all conspired to help you on your path and you've enjoyed fabulous success pursuing your dreams.
Be as specific as possible. For example, instead of listing something like "I am grateful I have a job" list the actual job that would give you the most joy. For example, you might list "I am grateful I am a system administrator in a large data center."
Make sure you include exactly what you want, not what you don't want. For example, you might include "I am grateful I am living in Saxony, Germany." You should not list something like "I am grateful I am not living in Bosnia." If any statement includes the word "not" in it, change it.
Include at least one item indicating your gratitude for being able to help others with something specific. It could be gratitude that you've been able to donate a specific amount of money or time to a cause. You might indicate your gratitude for being able to create a specific product or service that has helped others. It could be something that you've been able to do that has provided joy or happiness to others.Don't skip this step.You'll find that the Universe is much more willing to help you when you're willing to help others.
Don't stop until you have at least ten items in your list. More is better.
I included a similar exercise in my book "You Can Do Anything - Three Simple Steps to Success for Graduates." It's a simple exercise but can be very powerful if you put your energy into it.
Once you've completed your list, identify one of the items that you consider important or appealing to you and create a goal to do it.
Write out your goal starting with "I will...". Next include exactly what you want such as "have a rewarding job as a systems administrator in a large data center." Next, add a date and time such as "by midnight April 5th, 2018." Last include the phrase "or something better" to ensure you are open to something better. For example, instead of being a systems administrator in a large data center you might actually be more suited to owning and running the data center and by including "or something better" you remain open to other possibilities that are better for you.
Your goal might look like "I will have a rewarding job as a systems administrator in a large data center, or something better, by midnight April 5th, 2018."
You don't have to know how you'll achieve this goal right now. You only need to know that you want to. If you take the time to write out your goal and keep it at the forefront of your mind, you'll figure out how.
There are many ways you can keep the goal at the forefront of your mind and find inspiration to accomplish it. A simple method is to simply read your written goal every day.
The next time someone asks you "What should I do next?" or "What should I actually pursue?" consider giving them this answer. It will help them find the answer from within themselves.