Let’s look at the needs of the world. There are plenty of them and they range from smaller human needs like getting your car washed and buying groceries to larger world needs like stopping global warming or protecting our natural resources and wildlife. The good thing is you should already have a good idea now of what your talents and motivations are. Use them to guide you and most importantly be honest with yourself. Don’t pick a need because you feel pressured to do so, pick a need based on what motivates you. Remember, this need has to keep you motivated and there has to be an opportunity for you to leverage your talents to solve the need.
Again, talk to people and ask them what their needs are, the more people the better. This may take time and you may even find there are more than one set of need areas. Keep a notebook and take notes of the needs. I like using Spider Diagrams and mapping needs out visually, so I can see how they expand and relate to other things. Keeping the notebook with you will help you keep it top of mind too.
Once you have spent time researching need areas, start to think about your talents and motivators, use them to help direct you. For years people told me I was creative and was good at design. So, I studied design and became a designer. However, it was not until I took the time to think about what motivated me that I realized I wanted to focus on Human Centred Design. I discovered I was motivated by relationships and people, so designing things did not motivate me as much as solving problems for people. You will find that the closer you get to your core motivator the happier you will be.
Once you have done this, choosing the right university and course should be easy. But choosing a university or course without doing this can be costly, both from an economic and time perspective.
Remember that the one constant in life is change, so as you are exposed to new subjects and experiences remember to revisit your talents and motivators to keep a reality check. If they have changed then that is good, don’t fear change, change is good and will keep you happy if you embrace it.
- Research Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs
- Conduct need state interviews. Create a survey with questions focused on need states and field it to as many people as you can. A good place to start is with your teachers. Ask if you can share it with them. Use Survey Monkey or another free online tool to gather your responses and start to build up a picture of the different kind of need states. It will help to frame your questions around your motivators and talents but keep the questions open and broad too. You may find new things that you had not thought of.
- Visit your local library and see if they can help you find any existing research papers on need states.
- Google it, there is a lot on Google and if you type in what are the top ten world needs, you may be surprised with what you find.
- Finally, buy a good newspaper every day for a week and read about what is happening in the world today. Something like the Independent, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian or the New York Times. You won’t immediately see needs advertised, but you will see what is wrong with the world and get a good understanding of how you might help.
Bringing it all Together
So, by now, you should have a reasonably good idea of what your talents are and what need states motivate you. Now we want to start bringing it all together.
You may have already started to see patterns emerge or may have developed a feeling for a certain set of talents. Now try to leverage your talents to solve some of the needs that motivate you. You can start small at first by simply thinking about how your talents could serve these. A good exercise it to map it all out on a large sheet of paper and live with it all visually for a while. Pin it up on the wall and think about how your talents can be put to use or think about the gaps you might have in training and knowledge. These can help you choose your degree or course.
Write out your refined list of talents in one column and the need states in another and then in a third column start mapping out ideas for learning more about how to proceed. There is no wrong way of doing this so pick what works best for you. I like working on a wall with large sheets of paper and sticky notes, but others prefer notebooks and journals, while others work on their computers or tablets. The key thing is to visualize it and use it to plot a course of action forward. Just by having your talents mapped out you will be streets ahead of others and combined with your need states and motivators, you will quickly zero in on what your vocation is.
I hope this advice has been useful in helping you find your vocation and ultimately decide what path to choose, whether university, an apprenticeship or even perhaps something else. Good luck on your path forward and remember that education is a lifelong pursuit. Next time I will go over what to expect at University and how to navigate to success.
The ‘Power of Vocations’ series’ have been written by Gary Etheridge Director of Design Strategy for Nestlé Purina North America who studied Furniture & Product Design at The Nottingham Trent University.
Gary is an NTU Alumni Fellow. You can find out more about how to get involved with the Alumni Fellowship Programme here.