Whether you’re a college junior or well into your career, most of us will get to the point in our lives where we ask ourselves, “is this really what I want to do?” Or even, “is this what I’m supposed to be doing?”
Questions like these might feel like a quarter-life crisis in the moment, but in reality, they are good questions to be asking! Who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t stopped to make sure I was headed on a path that felt right. Discerning the “next move” led me to great decisions like finding a new job, getting married, and even buying a house!
But making “good choices” can be hard if you have no idea what you want your next move to be. In my 26 years of life, I’ve found that knowing your ultimate goal is essential, and I’ve found three ways to help me discover that goal, especially when it comes to my career.
Expand your understanding of your personality
Are you addicted to personality quizzes that reveal which Harry Potter character you are and the like? Then discovering your Myers-Briggs, Tendency, or Love Language might be the best place to start when getting to know yourself better. Sure, these personality analyses can be flawed — but they give you a starting place and invite you to think about who you really are.
“It was amazing to me how spot-on the analysis was after I answered only a few questions,” shares Mariah, who has explored her personality through several personality indexes. “[I felt] like I had just uncovered valuable insight into myself.”
Looking inward in this way can help guide you in your relationships with others and help you determine what kind of environment you work best in.
“The other major benefit I got from taking these personality indexes is an awareness of people whose personalities and tendencies are (often) very different from my own,” Mariah explains.
Doing some soul-searching to “find yourself” is a cliché for a reason: it often gives you the foundation you need to start making more informed decisions.
A few books to give you insight to your personality include, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin, and Mindset by Carol Dweck.
Ask friends about your strengths and where they see you thriving
I can think of a few friends that I think know me at least as well as I know myself — and sometimes they even have a clearer view of my true self than I do. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received has come from a friend or family member who has pointed me in the right direction.
When Sophie made the switch to work on her freelance career full-time, she reached out to friends and family to learn more about her strengths and weaknesses.
“I’m good at seeing the positive in others, but it’s harder to see my own strengths and therefore discern what I can offer the world that’s unique to me. That’s why I wanted to ask people who know me and the way I work well, and also love me as a person — I knew that they would see me more clearly than I see myself,” she explains.
Feedback from the people who know her best affirmed some things Sophie believed about herself, while stretching her understanding of herself in other ways.
“It was really helpful to hear certain words come up again and again in what people said about me,” Sophie shares. “The main things that they mentioned weren’t necessarily things I would have picked myself, which confirmed that I don’t know myself very well, so it was really helpful to have that outside perspective.”
Take a step back
Even though people in your life can offer great advice, sometimes the best way to get clarity is to take a step back from the chaos. Heck, even Jesus retreated to the desert for 40 days before beginning His ministry.
One way people have done this for centuries is to go on a silent retreat, commonly offered by monasteries or other retreat centers. I asked my friend, Tina, why she decided to go on a week-long silent retreat.
“The world at the time seemed deafeningly noisy. My life was a bit chaotic. I wanted peace. I wanted to recalibrate and fine-tune my eyes to see and ears to hear. And it’s kinda like the desert was calling me,” she shares.
“[I wanted] to shut out all the world’s noises so that I could stop being so distracted from God’s voice. I figured if I was quiet and the world around me was quiet then the voice of Jesus would sound loud and obvious.”
The silence of the retreat helped shut out worldly distractions so Tina could focus on what was most important to her. “It put my priority list in proper order,” she explains.
She left the retreat with renewed clarity on her life. “I found a silence within myself — within the busy chaos of life around me. I felt like I knew how to see God’s work in my life again. Once you see it, you can’t ‘unsee’ it,” she shares. “It’s just like any other experience that gives you a new perspective.”
If going all the way to a monastery to reap the benefits of a silent retreat sounds a little too intimidating, consider creating one of your own. That’s what Caroline did to wrap up 2017.
“I rented an Airbnb two hours away, picked a book for spiritual reading, and headed up for a day and a half of silence, prayer, and rest,” she explains. “It was an opportunity to focus on my relationship with the Lord, which gives meaning and direction to everything else in my life.”
No matter where you go to figure out your next step in life, don’t forget that discernment is a process. But by looking inward, accepting feedback from others, and opening yourself to God’s call, you’ll surely discover your next step in life.