How do I figure out my preferences?
Your preferences come from your life experiences. Taking stock of your experiences can help you to identify what you want out of your next job or career.
- First, take stock of your work and school experiences. These can include jobs, volunteer work, informal jobs like babysitting or lawn care, military service, even taking care of sick family members. Write down what you can remember about those experiences, including some of the details about them like when they were, what you did there, and what role you had.
- For each of those experiences, list your likes and dislikes. Likes are those tasks, people, places, and experiences that you enjoyed and might even like to see again. Dislikes are those that you did not enjoy and may not like to see again in a workplace. Examples might be: Likes: Getting good at the tasks and finishing them everyday. Dislikes: Having a supervisor breathing down my neck!
- Also include what you were good at and what you were not so good at. Think back about what you got feedback about. What were you told you did well with? What did you feel good at? What did not work so well?
- After you’ve detailed your experiences, your likes and dislikes and your strengths and weaknesses, pull out the experiences that are significant to you. Which likes and dislikes do you think you want to consider when selecting a job or career? Which strengths or areas to work on stand out to you?
- Give a name to what you want to see in the future.
- What likes do you to consider in the future? For example, “I liked working on my own when mowing lawns for my neighbors. My Preference is Autonomy or Working on My Own.”
- What dislikes should be in the mix? Think about what you would like to see instead, such as: “I disliked having a supervisor breathing down my neck. My Preference would be having a Supportive Supervisor.”
- What strengths do I want to add to the list? For example, “I was good at working with my hands. Working with my Hands is one of my Preferences for my next job.”
- What “weaknesses” do you want to turn into Preferences when choosing a job or career? This can look something like this: “I’m not good at working with numbers. I prefer working with people. My Preference is “Working with People”.
- Make a list of your Preferences. Having a list of 6-12 preferences can give you a pretty good picture of what you are looking for. This list can be used for researching jobs and careers, for Choosing between Options, and even for getting more specific about your Preferences, as seen in the question, “How can I make sure I am doing something that makes me happy?”