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5 Questions to Figure Out Your Career Path

By | Michaela Wong 

Many people enter the job market still unsure of their careers. If this sounds like you, know that it may be more common than you think. But after taking seemingly endless career quizzes and maybe even hopping around to different majors, what if you still don’t know what you want?

Figuring out your career path is an internal process that can’t be figured out by an arbitrary quiz answer. It requires digging down to the roots of your passions, desires, and interests to understand where you would excel and what compromises you would be willing to make. 

But how do you get started? The five whys method, created by the founder of Toyota motors, was originally used as a project management tool to diagnose issues in the manufacturing process. However, it can be applied to diagnose many other problems as well — like that of your career. By taking a scientific approach to your problem, you can break it down into bite-size pieces that are easier to understand and make a concrete plan for. 

The five whys is a powerful tool for understanding your root motivations and goals. To use the five whys method, you should start by figuring out your problem statement. In this case, it may be: I’m not sure if [insert your career here] is what I want to do”. Then, you ask yourself “why?” five times, until you get to the base cause of your issue. 

To do this exercise, try this printable problem statement worksheet to get your creative juices flowing. 

While this is just one example of a straightforward problem statement, there are many other tangential problem statements that you can take a look at as well. For example, by asking yourself “what things in my career would I be willing to compromise on?”, you can start to filter out the careers that you wouldn’t be interested in. 

You could also ask yourself what you value most between money, time, and fulfillment. These three make up the main pyramid of work-life balance, and although it’s possible to achieve all three, it’s important to take a realistic look at your life to prioritize what is most important to you — do you want to live to work, or work to live?

No matter the question you begin with, you can dig down to the root causes behind your problem. No matter your situation, you want to find a career that you will feel satisfied and be successful in. For a step-by-step guide to discovering your career path (along with five prompts to help you get started), take a look at the infographic below. 


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