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Examine your life experiences

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Identify your strengths through your life experiences to determine skills and passions. Both hard skills and soft skills are necessary and important to assess your qualifications. Your skills are what will help you get your foot in the door but passion is what will get you out of bed in the morning. A detailed examination of your past work and leisure activities identifies patterns that can be used to help you choose a career so that you never have to work another day in your life.

Life Experience
Make a list of every paid job you’ve held from babysitting to program management. Expand your duties and responsibilities for each job, dismiss overlaps, then rate each item according to your enjoyment of and skill level. By the end of the exercise you will have a comprehensive list that outlines your skills and passions.
Expand your outline by filling in missing information if necessary, once completed divide your list into subcategories. The subcategories should include hard and soft skills and provide you with an opportunity to attach an emotion to each item. The emotion will help you understand and identify your passions.

Skills
The next step is to identify both your hard and soft skills. Hard skills are teachable and measurable; soft skills are the interpersonal skills we pick up along the way. Accounting, woodworking, public speaking are all hard skills that can be taught and have degrees of proficiency.

Soft skills are subjective and are obtained through interaction and experience. Critical thinking and/or empathy are soft skills required for a large number of jobs but not many people list them in their cover letter. It may help if you find a list of soft skills to help you categorize when going through your past jobs.
Passions

When you are passionate about what you do, it makes your day go by that much faster. You’ve heard the saying, “If you do what you love then you will never work a day in your life.” When you want to do something it’s more fun than when you have to do something.

Waking up in the morning is easier, staying late is a given and we pour our hearts into every project when we do what we love. Think about events that stirred up an emotion, what made you angry or sad, what moves you when you think about it or when you read about it or hear it on the news. Attaching an emotion will help you to see what you were meant or fated to do.

Summary
Set career goals by playing to your skills, passions and life experience. By identifying your hard and soft skills you build a strong foundation on which to build the rest of your life’s work. Choosing a career is as much about doing something well as it is about doing something you love. Take the time to assess yourself it will last a lifetime.

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