It’s the most common and consistent question I’m asked and the most visited title page on my web site. It’s also a topic I’ve written about more than once before and I’m likely to continue approaching this same question from different perspectives.
So, here’s today’s view. First, the real question is not, what’s out there,” but rather, “what do I want to do.” That’s right, what you actually want to do in your career is far more important than, what’s out there, because literally, everything and anything is “out there.”
Yet, when I ask physicians what it is that they would really, really like to do the usual response is dead air. It is a hard question. So, this is part of my strategy to to help physicians tell me and to tell themselves what is it that they really want to do. Follow these simple steps.
First, draw three columns on a sheet of paper and title the first Interests/Passions, the second, Skills, and the third, Knowledge. Then, beginning with the first column. And do follow this order of play. In that first column list things that interest you. You might be interested in education or art or bicycling or healthcare reimbursement or…. Whatever it is list it (also, if you’re really stumped, what do you read… that is a peek into your interests) . Then, on to the second column. What are your skills? You’re a good runner, you’re a goods speaker, writer, good with interpersonal relationships, good at auto repair… Again, just make the list. Lastly, what do you know about? Of course you know about medicine, but also perhaps politics, environmental issues, etc.
If you look at my examples, you’ll notice two things. First, they are not just job focused, because your horizons are broader than medical practice – even it at first pass you think otherwise. Second, they are fairly broad. For this first pass, I don’t want you spending too much time on detail and overthinking your responses. That’s at good start.
The next step is to add some meat to the bone. Again, stay in order and consider each interest at a more detailed level. Art is an interest: what art, do you look at art or are you an artist…? Add this detail to each entry. This is the time to be specific – very specific. Then do the same with your skills – distill each entry to its most elemental component parts. Then on to your knowledge.
Here is a quick takeaway. Do you see yourself more broadly defined than when you first asked, what’s out there? You probably do.
Now, let’s refine your focus. Look at your interests, then see if you have a corresponding skill that matches or supports that interest. Once you make a match consider your knowledge. Do you have a knowledge set that supports your skill(s) that supports your interest(s)? I’ll bet you do… as a matter of fact, my best is that you’ll have more than one and likely several. You’ve now defined functional areas of potential career success. Your next question is, who (i.e. what industry, business type, etc) needs and uses these skills and knowledge to address this problem or objective. At this point of analysis, your Interests/Passions, represent the focus of your intervention, your problem solving for an employer or client.
This exercise should advance your thinking regarding not just what’s out there, but better yet, what you want to be doing. If you have interests, skills and Knowledge that align, you have a career definition and objective.
If you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact me for an initial, no-charge, no-obligation Hallway Consult…