Many people enter the beginning stages of their professional life still unsure of their career paths. It can be tough to figure out the intersection of what you truly love to do, what makes you money, and what fulfills you. However, it doesn’t have to be.
The five whys method was developed by the founder of Toyota motors as a way to figure out the root cause of a problem — but it can be used to figure out your career path, too. To use the five whys method, you simply figure out your main problem statement and ask yourself “why?” five times until you uncover the basis of your problem.
Many people make the mistake of just asking themselves “what career do I want?” and becoming frustrated when they can’t determine an answer. The issue here is that determining your career is a much more nuanced process than this. You should ask yourself questions surrounding the topic of your career until you are able to hone in on what the problem truly is.
One great question to start with is “what am I good at?”. Asking yourself this allows you to take the first step in looking inwards to uncover your skills, motivations, and passions. You can further this with probing questions such as:
- What are my interests?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What comes easiest to me?
Next, you should ask yourself “what are my career goals?”. Although this may seem obvious, thinking about your long- and short-term goals helps you build a timeline of measurable achievements. For example, if you want to be running your own business by the time you turn 30, and you are currently 24, you’ll be able to work backward to determine what you need to get done in that 6-year time frame.
You should then think “what do I value most?”. Your values will help you discover whether you want to prioritize money, time, or fulfillment. These three pillars will make up the bulk of your career decision, and be a framework for whether you want to live to work or work to live. It’s important to remember that finding a career that fits these three is not a zero-sum game. However, you should figure out which areas are most important to you to be able to answer the following questions.
Following this, you should figure out “where am I willing to compromise?”. Although you want to fulfill all three pillars, It’s important to be pragmatic with your career approach and figure out ahead of time which areas you would be willing to compromise in, so as not to get blindsided further down the road.
Lastly, you should explicitly figure out “what will I do to get myself to the finish line?”. Would you be willing to go back to school, or move to a new city? These are important factors you should layout ahead of time so you are able to construct a career path that fits all of your requirements while still allowing you to grow and exceed.
Finding your career path can be tough, but it’s important to remember that your mileage may vary. Some people know what they want to do early on, others take years to figure it out. There is no “right” time or specified timeline you should be following — the most important thing is staying true to yourself finding a career that allows you to follow your passions. For more information on how to find your career path with the five whys, check out the infographic below.