There is a fairly interesting time-honored tradition among hikers in the backcountry. Officially called a “cairn,” it is literally a pile of rocks. A cairn is supposed to be the path-marker to make it easier for hikers to figure out the direction they are supposed to go. On more traveled paths, a signpost is used for the same purpose. Directional signage tells us the quickest way to get to where we’re going. Don’t you wish we had signposts to direct us on our “path of life”?
The truth is, we do.
You might not recognize the signposts for what they really are. Sometimes signposts are hidden, (I found a street sign in the middle of a forest once, where it was hardly useful to anyone) and sometimes the signposts come at the least opportune moments.
Here are 5 unique questions to find the “signposts” of your own path:
- What do you hate? This might seem like a surprising question, but important. Do you hate working inside a cubicle? You might be driven to apply for a forestry position. Hate traffic? Maybe you are more interested in a position that allows you to work from home. Hate being alone? Maybe you would enjoy a position in marketing and sales, where you can interact with people on a daily basis. To know what we WANT, we have to understand what we DON’T want.
- What obstacles have you overcome, and what have you learned from them? The challenges in our lives shape us into the person we are becoming. While it is important to recognize and overcome challenges, it is equally important to allow yourself to learn from them. This will be one of the main questions most employers ask in any line of work, but it is also important to consider for personal benefit and growth.
- What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? On any given day, are you excited about what you do? Are you passionately involved in the life you are creating for yourself? If not, you might need to find a different line of work.
- If money was no object, what would you spend your time doing? Answer this question honestly, without confusing dreams and fantasy: “I’d like to sit on a beach and sunbathe” is a great dream to have, but if it’s not structured in reality, it’s actually a pipe dream. You can dream about your fantasy life, but you also need to ask yourself: what are you doing to make it happen?
- How do YOU define success? This might be the most important question you ever ask yourself. Any of your dreams will not become reality without the driving factor of success behind them. People love climbing to the top of a mountain, to a waterfall, to a beautiful view. Define your success by repeating after me, “I will be successful when I [insert your answer here]”. The important thing to remember is that everyone has a different version of what they consider success. Don’t let someone else stack your rocks for you.
About the Author Danielle is a 2nd year AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Habitat for Humanity. Last year, she served in Homeowner Services in Sacramento, California. This year, she is serving as the Store Development Coordinator for the two Habitat Stores in Seattle. She has a bachelors’ degree in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and she plans to work in non-profit management. Danielle enjoys hiking, running, and reading on the docks of Lake Washington. She is a member of the SAC Career Fair Committee.