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Power of vocations: Identifying your need states

Let’s look at the needs of the world to identify your need states.

There are plenty of them. They can range from smaller human needs like getting your car washed and buying groceries. Or larger world needs like stopping global warming or protecting our natural resources and wildlife. 

The good news is that you should already have a good idea of what your talents and motivations are. If not, check out our guide to finding your talents in this article series.

Be honest with yourself and use them to guide you.  Pick a need based on what motivates you, don’t pick a need because you’re feeling pressured to do so.  Remember, you must be motivated by this need, and you must be able to leverage your talents to meet it.

Talk to people

To begin your research, talk to people and find out what their needs are. The more people the better. It may take some time and you may find that there are more than one set of need areas. Take notes and keep a notebook. I like using Spider Diagrams and mapping needs out visually, so I can see how they expand and relate to other things. Additionally, keeping the notebook with you will help you to stay on top of it.

When you have researched need areas, think about your strengths and motivators, and use them to direct your efforts. I was told for years that I was talented and creative. As a result, I studied design and became a designer. However, it was not until I took the time to consider my motivations that I realised I wanted to pursue Human Centred Design. I realised I was more motivated by relationships and people, so designing things didn’t motivate me as much as solving problems for people. Getting closer to your core motivator will make you happier.

Once yoYou should be able to pick the right university and course once you’ve done this.  However, choosing a university or course without doing this can be costly, from both an economic and a time perspective.

Change is the only constant in life, so as you are exposed to new subjects and experiences, remember to revisit your talents and motivators to stay grounded.  You shouldn’t be afraid of change if they’ve changed. Change is good, and it will keep you happy if you embrace it.

Things that should help you discover your needs states

  • 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. Consider framing your questions around your motivators and talents, but keep them open and broad too.  You may discover new things you didn’t know before.

  • Visit your local library

See if they can help you find any existing research papers on need states.

  • Use Google!

You may be surprised by what you find on Google if you type in “top ten world needs.”.

  • Get 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.

Bring 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.

Make a list of your need states

Write out your refined list of talents in one column, the need states in another (An example of identification of needs here). 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. Others prefer notebooks, journals, or writing on their computers or tablets. What’s important is to visualise it and use it to plan a course of action. With your skills mapped out, you will be miles ahead of others, and combined with your need states and motivators, you will quickly discover 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. 

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.

Blog Administrator. Currently ran by co-author Emilia Denis. Emilia has studied Fashion Communication and Promotion at NTU between years 2017 and 2020.

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