The question “Who am I?” is vital to career exploration.

What's the view, both behind you and in front of you?You need to know your strengths, your limits, how you self-sabotage, what lights you up, how you unconsciously push money away, the impact you have on people. There are layers and layers to you, and it’s worth delving into them.

Most important in a career exploration process, you need to know what depletes you and what energizes you.

But there’s another, equally important question in play here. It’s got the same flavor as “Who am I?” but it’s distinct. It stands on its own, and it deserves your full spotlight of attention.

“Who do I want to be?”

Certainly, you’re shaped by your past, and it’s important to spend time on that arena. When I work with clients on a thorough career exploration process, we actually go very far back into your past to your earliest memories. What we discover there is vital to where you’ll steer in your next career chapter. In fact, the activity that’s built around your early memories is deeply soulful and intensely insightful.

As you turn in the other direction, facing forward, the massive possibilities of where you can go are mind boggling. And that can shut people down. That overwhelm can bring everything to a screeching halt.

Being armed with this understanding — that you may exceed your saturation point and withdraw or give up — is essential to this process. You know it’s coming, so you can prepare. The tool that I use with my clients is a Criteria List so that you can measure your new opportunities against something concrete. You can actually create a spreadsheet and use numbers, or if you’re more organic and you prefer a gut feel as your GPS, you can still use that Criteria list, one that’s specific to you.

On your Criteria List is what you know about who you are and where you’ve been, and there’s also content that’s constructed from the question of where you’re heading.

Who do you want to spend your time with? If you dreamed big, where would you want to spend your time? What would you be doing? What objections surface as you consider this starry-eyed vision of your ideal work day?

Bring all of these questions to your exploration and give yourself the gift of a heartfelt exploration as you design your next career chapter.