letter blocks from scrabble that spell out 'find your fire'

Identifying your interests is a crucial step in planning a successful career. Many people struggle with this at some point in their working lives–whether when starting out in the workforce, having recently lost their job, or when wanting to take a dramatic new direction.

Here are a few ways to explore your key interests and link them to actual jobs.

1. Complete a free online questionnaire

After selecting your interests from a checklist of everyday activities and interests, online questionnaires suggest the groups you score highly in, and relate those to particular industries and career paths. You’ll probably find you’re unsure about some options, but are more drawn to others. Take note of your gut feelings: they are leading you towards your interests. Here are a couple of great online interest questionnaires to try:



2. Study yourself.

You probably already know instinctively what your interests are. You just need to recognise them for what they are, and identify how they could apply in an employment context. Think about occasions when you light up in conversation about a particular topic, or find time flies because you’re having fun. More clues might lie in the section you automatically head for in the bookshop, websites or social accounts you could browse all day, clicking link after link. Perhaps you love spending time in the local nursery on a Saturday morning, or chatting with a local park ranger, dog walker, or environmental group. Maybe you could happily spend all day in the kitchen cooking a feast for your friends, or you get deeply inspired by homewares stores or looking through interior or fashion design on Pinterest. These are your interests. And there’s jobs related to all of them. Start a file on your phone, noting everything you find interesting in a week, and any activity where you didn’t notice time passing. You’ll soon find some common themes begin to appear.

3. Research the field. Find any low-cost or free courses online.

Once you’ve identified your top interests and explored associated jobs, dip your toe in the water with any low-cost or free training you can find. Borrow books from the library, watch You Tube tutorials, and follow influential people in the field on social media. Delve into the kinds of jobs you can get in that interest field. Follow any bends in the road with an open mind. Remember, as a college dropout, Steve Jobs once attended a random class on typography just because he liked typefaces: a move which led to the eventual design of Apple computers and iPhones. Identifying your interests can open up exciting new avenues and free you from feeling stuck and uninspired. Give yourself permission to explore the possibilities and your path to a new career could become clearer very quickly.