If you’ve found this article, it means that you’re likely struggling to find a career that excites you.
Whether you’re graduating school soon, or you’ve been working for a while and simply have yet to be excited by your work, you’re probably here because you’ve found yourself thinking that “no career interests me.”
To that end, this article is going to discuss what to do if you’re in a situation where you can’t find a career that interests you, and share a process to find work that you’re excited about.
- 1 What Should I Do If No Career Interests Me?
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
- 3 Conclusion
What Should I Do If No Career Interests Me?
I’ve found a specific sequence of steps to be very helpful when thinking about what to do with your career and life.
It starts by thinking about the high level life that you want to build for yourself. From there, it involves turning that vision for your life into tangible career options, and then going out and experimenting with those that look promising.
What I’m going to share below is a summary of that process, which is fully detailed in the post I Have No Idea What To Do With My Life: How to Get Unstuck. If the below recommendations seem helpful, you can review them in more depth in that post.
Step #1: Establish a Vision for Your Life
In my view, the starting place to decide what career you want to pursue is to begin by thinking about the life that you want to build for yourself and then finding work that fits within that.
In American culture, I think that we often get it backwards. We tend to start by establishing a career, and then orchestrate our whole lives around that choice. I think the right way to do it is to reverse the process.
In order to establish a vision for your life, I recommend doing three things:
Your values help you to define the high level things that are important to you in your life. A future biography helps you to picture the life that you build around those values. And then a personal mission statement helps you to take the other two exercises and turn them into a short guiding statement of what you’re working towards.
Together, those three things help to frame up what’s important to you and what you want to pursue. From there you can look for work that works for you within the high level life that you’re trying to build for yourself.
Step #2: Translate That Vision Into Tangible Career Options
Once you have that high level vision of the life that you want to build for yourself, you need to try and figure out some tangible career options that would fit it.
My favorite way of approaching of that is by trying to find your Ikigai. Ikgai is a Japanese concept that roughly means “reason for being” and represents the intersection of the following things:
Basically what you want to do is list things that apply in each category and try to find the intersection. So for example, after completing the exercise, you may find that you listed writing in some form or fashion as that you love, that you’re good at, that can make you money, and that people need. That could be your Ikigai and the the path that you want to pursue.
Once you find some options that you could represent your Ikigai, you’ll want to go back and review them against the output of your vision for life exercises and see which of those represent the best potential for enabling the life that you want to build for yourself.
Step #3: Experiment with Possible Paths
The final step in the process is career experimentation, and it’s particularly important if you haven’t found a career path that has interested in you to this point.
Basically, career experimentation involves gathering information in a low risk way to get feedback on how a particular path resonates with you.
Experimentation could take any of the following forms:
- Starting a side project
- Volunteering in your field
- Conducting informational interviews
- Doing an internship
- Doing contract work
The point is, you’re gathering as much information as you can to validate the hypotheses that formed out of your vision for life and Ikigai exercises.
As you’re experimenting and trying different things, make sure to record how you’re feeling by journaling as you go through the process. In particular, the Jim Collins method referenced in the journaling article that I linked to is one that I’ve found to be a great method for tracking and reflection during this process.
The method is detailed in the video clip below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Normal to Not Know What Career You Want?
So the short answer is, yes, it’s very normal to not know what career you want.
Often it’s due to either not knowing what options are out there that may be a fit for you. Or, it could be a feeling that there are so many options out there that you become overwhelmed.
Is It Ok Not to Be Passionate About Your Career?
In the United States in 2022, only 20% of people reported being passionate about their careers. So, not being passionate about your career appears to be the norm.
In my view, it’s ideal to find meaningful work if you can. But that’s hard to do, particularly if you’re working on somebody else’s terms.
What’s more important is to find work that you generally enjoy, and that enables a bigger picture life of meaning that you want to build for yourself.
I’m Not Good at Anything, What Career Should I Do?
I believe that almost all of us have something that we’re good at. It’s just a matter or breaking the negative mental narrative and finding the things at which you do excel.
To that end, we have a complete article on how to find what you’re good at. There are a variety of different tools and techniques to help you discover what you’re good at, including things like:
- Skill stories
- Reaching out to others
- Reflecting on what you were good at as a kid
- Strengths finder quiz
- Thinking about situations where you’re comfortable leading
- Making a list
- And more!
I Have No Skills or Interests
As stated in the last section, I believe that we all have skills. It’s just a matter of finding what you’re good at and then translating those skills into a relevant work context.
When it comes to interests, I also believe that we all have things that we like and that we’re interested in. We just need to think intentionally about what those might be. We have a complete article about how to find what you like doing that walks through some exercises for doing so:
- Assess what you spend time on voluntarily
- Flow stories
- Reflecting upon what you enjoyed as a child
- And more!
What to Do When You Have No Career Direction?
Regardless of where you’re at, it’s never too late to start. And you can apply the same process that was summarized here, and detailed more fully in our what to do with life post and apply that to your situation.
“No career interests me.” It’s a place that can leave you feeling stuck, lost, and frustrated. However, by following an intentional process of reflecting on the life that you want to build, translating that into tangible work options, and following that with some career experimentation, you will hopefully be able to find a work path that resonates with you.