By Jullien Gordon
I am the son of an alcoholic, and I’ve been attending Al-Anon for more than a year now. One of the principles I learned was taking a personal inventory. That process has been helpful in my life. And as a career performance trainer, I have also applied that idea to the career exploration process.
I call it “innerviewing.”
Before interviewing for a job, I encourage my clients to engage in the innerviewing process. An interview is a conversation between you and a potential employer; an innerview is a conversation between you and your best self. An interview is a negotiation; an innerview is a search for truth, an uncovering of the reality about your strengths, weaknesses, goals, fears, likes and dislikes.
So many people know what they don’t want. Here, the question is, “What do you want?”
There are two ways to find the answer—exposure and introspection. If you don’t know what you want, don’t expect it to come to you naturally. You have to expose yourself to new ideas, new people, new places and new opportunities. Then, by following what interests you, you may stumble upon your passion. Once you discover your passion, deepening it is a never-ending, immersive journey.
Introspection requires sitting with yourself. When you’re alone, without the influence of your parents, professors and peers in your head, ask yourself what you really want. Oftentimes, we drive through life under the influence of what others want rather than what we want. We take the sexy jobs at the big name companies because they impress other people. But the worst thing you can do to yourself is to live a life that makes everyone happy but you.
The innerviewing process involves answering a variety of questions such as:
- What are my passions? What are my interests? What are my hobbies?
- What are my strengths and skills?
- What do I want to be great at professionally?
- For what kind of company do I want to work? Big? Small? Start-up? Mature?
- With what kind of people do I want to work?
- What does work-life balance look like to me?
- What is my relationship to work? Is the purpose money, meaning or both?
- What is my relationship to money? How much is enough? How much is too little?
As you gain clarity on these questions, certain careers will emerge and others will be eliminated because they don’t fit your vision for your D.R.E.A.M., an acronym I use for your Desired Relationship, Employment and Money. Of course, we all want unlimited time, unlimited money, unlimited love and unlimited passion, but because time is a limited resource, we each have to determine how we want to allocate it among our relationships, employment and pursuit of money.
In many cases, a job is the only way to earn an income, so the goal becomes to work hard to rise faster. But as you work harder and longer, that time and energy draws from something else you value, unless you prioritize properly. Innerviewing will help you make these tough choices ahead of time so that you can find a career path that supports your D.R.E.A.M. life rather than trying to squeeze your D.R.E.A.M. life around your career.
Jullien Gordon is a career advancement expert and consults for corporations and nonprofits on higher performance to increase employee motivation, engagement and retention.