Find Your Career Flare – Your Interests

Career Decision Wheel
Model by Norm Amundson
Image by Jody Little

When you consider what you are interested in, have you ever found that you are caught up in an activity and lost all sense of time?  Actor and author Todd Duncan once said: “What you invest your time in defines who you are.”  Finding work that considers your interests can be very effective in maintaining a long term career interest.  Consider doing an assessment that considers your career interests.  Any assessment based on John Holland’s theory of career interests can be a helpful tool in determining your primary area of interest.  The six areas according to Holland’s theory include:

  1. Realistic (jobs that ‘do’)
  2. Investigative (jobs that require ‘thinking’)
  3. Artistic (jobs that have ‘creative’ components – not restricted to jobs in the arts)
  4. Social (jobs that ‘help’ or ‘serve’ or interact with other people)
  5. Enterprising (jobs that involve ‘persuading’ others)
  6. Conventional (jobs that require ‘organizing’)

Being interested in something doesn’t mean that you are necessarily good at it yet – but people tend to develop skills in an area of interest by the sheer amount of time, energy and commitment that they put into it.  Reporter and Author Malcolm Gladwell has surmised that people who have truly developed a talent or gift have typically put in at least 10,000 hours of time into ‘doing’ something.  Interest alone does not determine success, but combine interest with enjoyment, hard work and determination and success is more likely to follow in career and life.

Personal Interests

It can be helpful to take stock of your personal interests.  Some people fashion an entire career out of a hobby.  Other people find that they can’t make enough money from a hobby to turn it into a career, while others prefer to keep their work and play activities separate.  If you have created a career development binder or a journal for yourself, check out these great guiding questions to ask yourself:

  •  How do you spend your free time?
  • What would you like to blog or tweet about?
  • What do you like to think about? Talk about?
  • What do you like to read?  Newspaper sections? Magazines? Blogs? Books?
  • What kind of TV shows, movies or music interests you?
  • What hobbies do you have?
  • What and who do you care about?
  • What would you like to accomplish in your life?

It can also be helpful to document your other passions or areas of interest, as they can inform your workplace decisions.  This can be expressed through many parts of the Career Decision Wheel other than just through Interests (e.g. Values).  For example, having a personal interest in doing an early morning exercise boot camp may mean you need to ensure a career choice allows for that timeframe, while an interest in knitting may indicate a preference for working with your hands.  Alternatively, being aware of your interests means that you may consider employers differently when evaluating job offers based on your needs and preferences (e.g., yoga at lunch, office daycare, work/life balance, same charity focus).

Interest Gaps

For some people, they have never really developed any interests through work or play.  It can be very upsetting to hear people say “find your passion” or “follow your calling” when you have yet to determine what you are interested in.  The only way to find out what you are interested in is to try things.  While you may never develop a strong interest, you’ll at least find out what you do and don’t like – and this can be helpful in making your work and day-to-day life more “interesting”.

Interests in Career: A True Story

A financial planner’s Holland Codes are CIR (Conventional, Investigative and Realistic).  He had pursued an educational path that was along the realistic side, obtaining a Bachelor of Science.  He had no desire to pursue a career in the sciences, but had an interest in business and numbers.  As an introvert, it takes most of his energy to be focussed on serving people, and he doesn’t enjoy trying to persuade others to do what is best for them financially.  He is not a natural sales person, and doesn’t like that his profession has a sales element, when in his opinion the best planners from an ethical perspective are focussed on the plan and not the sale.  However, he really enjoys coming up with a financial plan for them, as he is good with numbers and enjoys watching the global marketplace.  He enjoys thinking things through and making sure the right amount of risk is factored for his clients.  He has found success in his work as clients learn about his values and interests as their Financial Planner, despite the overwhelming number of people with other interests in his field.

Interests Assessments

Next Steps

Once you have completed your Interests assessments and reflected on the Personal Interests questions, you might find it helpful to note your three to five main areas of interest on your own Career Decision Wheel.  If at any point you feel stuck, consider meeting with a professional Career Development Practitioner.  They can help provide you with appropriate assessments and other tools to help you make the best career choices.  Stay tuned for the next Career Decision Wheel blog on Values.

Sarah Nelson’s educational background includes education, linguistics, and career development. Professionally a Career Development Practitioner with a CHRP designation, Sarah has a vast array of work experience across several industries. Her early career began in the hospitality industry and has morphed into a career with a strong focus on education, including being a School Trustee in the public education system, a Learning Consultant in the career development field, and a college instructor.

Her main areas of interest include communication and the power of words, innovation and creativity, living with passion and purpose and a desire to see the world full of lifelong learners who want to ‘be the change’. Sarah is also a “midnight genealogist” with a desire to uncover lost roots for herself and others, with a desire to learn from the past to live in the present and create a better future.  Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn at or Twitter at!/sarahnelson71.

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