By Lauren Beam (’07), Associate Director, Mentoring and Alumni Personal & Career Development, Wake Forest University

If you are considering a career change, or even just a role change within your current field of work, taking some time to

aerial shot of multiple highways crossing

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

explore your options and reflect on the possibilities is always helpful. Below is a simple career exploration exercise to guide you through your “possible lives” – potential career paths and roles – and to help you find common themes and patterns that can lead you towards some next steps. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Grab a blank sheet of paper and draw your name in the center with a circle around it. Using the visual below, draw out lines from the circle and begin listing careers, job titles, or even college majors that have interested you in the past. These can be jobs you’ve held in the past (or present), or you can list dream jobs (no matter how realistic or unrealistic they may seem!). I recommend coming up with at least 8-10 of these.Possible Lives Worksheet image - Your name in the middle circle with possible careers and interests in circles going out from the middle

Step 2: Look at and reflect on what you’ve written. What patterns or common themes can you identify? Make a short, bulleted list at the bottom or on the back of your paper. Some examples of patterns or common themes could be: creative careers, flexible jobs, fields that involve helping people, jobs that involve writing.

Step 3: Consider next steps to pursue using the information you’ve gathered about yourself. For example, do you need to research a particular career field? Would shadowing someone or conducting an informational interview with a professional in a certain job role be useful? Perhaps you are realizing that you need to expand your network of connections with people at certain types of companies. Or, maybe you need to identify opportunities to further pursue your interests through hobbies or volunteering.

As you continue to gather information and take the next steps towards making a career or job role change, you may also want to check out the following advice posts:

Ready for a Job Change? Do Your Homework

Tips for Considering a Job Change

3 Things to Ask Yourself if You’re Unhappy at Work and Unsure What To Do Next

Build Your Network Before You Need It