Module Finding My Direction


Finding My Direction

This Module is the starting block for your career exploration/planning process. The Module assists you to develop a basic profile of your career skills and interests, career beliefs, personal styles, goals and career influences. You will complete basic career inventories to determine your career related profile and relate that to selecting course options and career pathways which might be aligned with your profile.

By the end of this module, you will have:

  • Reflected on your personal interests
  • Identified skills related to your interests
  • Begun setting personal goals
  • Become aware of external influences on your career decisions

You will have the opportunity to test yourself on these topics at the end of the module.

Topic 1 Discovering My Personal Interests

Having a clear idea about your personal interests is one of the first steps in making a good career decision as career success and satisfaction rely heavily on whether or not you enjoy the work you are doing.

Stop and ask yourself these questions. What makes you happy? What hobbies and academic subjects do you enjoy? What are things you would like to do in your free time? Your answers to questions like these reveal a lot about who you are and offer an insight into your unique personality.

Interests are:

  • activities you enjoy and find fulfilling
  • activities you would like to spend more time doing or,
  • activities you plan to do in the future

Interests can also be known as hobbies, pastimes, recreational pursuits or extracurricular activities.

When discovering your interests, you are looking for what you would 'like' to do, not what you 'can' do. You don't have to be good at something for it to be an interest. You should also think about your dislikes as they may provide clues to what you do like (e.g. if you don't like working individually, you probably like working in a group).

Things that interest you may be work-related or they may not, or you may have interests that fit in both areas. Therefore it is important when looking for what you are interested in to examine all aspects of your life such as work, recreational activities, social interactions, school involvement/academic courses, and even daydreams (e.g. your ideal dream jobs).

The more knowledge you have of what you are interested in, the more it will help you focus on picking the best university subjects and future career path for you.

Activity One: Interests

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Topic 2 Exploring Interest Related Skills

Your personal interests can help you decide what career paths you would like to take, however it is your skills that largely determine whether you achieve what you want or not.

A skill is a learned ability to perform something in a competent manner. To advance or excel in whatever education or career path you choose, you must firstly know what you are able to do and what you are willing to learn to do.

However when exploring your skills, you should keep in mind that you may have skills that you are good at but they are not what you enjoy or what you want to utilise in your work. Therefore to obtain personal satisfaction it is important to have an understanding of what skills are required in relation to what your interests are, as these will most likely be the skills you'll enjoy learning more about and using.

Complete Activity Two to help you identify those skills you enjoy using and the skills related to your interests.

Activity Two: Interest Related Skills

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You should consider short courses, voluntary work or other formal study for interest related skills. Also, conduct additional research on the potential career opportunities identified from this exercise to learn about the requirements needed for these options.

Topic 3 Know My Temperament and Personal Style

Part of defining who you are is your unique temperament and personal style. These are personal attributes that refer to your character, personality or disposition. Your temperament and personal style involves traits that relate to the way you think, feel and act in different situations and towards other people. For example are you punctual, enthusiastic, energetic, sincere?

It is important that you have an insight into your own unique traits as it can help you improve personal relationships, find your ideal job, and accomplish life goals. Furthermore, in relation to career choices, knowing your temperament and personal style plays a significant role in your approach to performing a task, the kind of people you work best with or the amount of satisfaction you get from a particular job.

The activity for this part of the module will give you an idea on what your temperament and personal style is like.

Activity Three: Your Temperament and Personal Style

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For your own interest, you may want to give the list to someone that knows you and ask them to indicate which temperament types they think best describe you. If there are any temperaments selected that you did not select yourself, ask that person to describe situations where they have seen you show these qualities.

Topic 4 Thinking About My Personal Goals

Thinking about your another important element of finding your direction.

Personal Goal Setting Tips

Setting your personal goals effectively is an excellent way for you to gain a general sense of direction in your life, as well as give you motivation to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Goal setting can help ensure you continue to move your life in a direction of your choice. Start deciding what your life goals are and pay close attention to them if you want to achieve personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Activity Four: Goal setting

Here are several goal setting tips to get you started on achieving your personal goals. As you read through the tips add your goals and ideas to the tables below.

  • Be in a positive frame of mind before setting your goals

    Being in a positive state will make the goal setting process easier as it will allow you to become more inspired, optimistic and relaxed as you think about things you want to achieve in your life.

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  • Start brain storming

    Consider all areas of your life including your career, education, finances, relationship, family, friends, mental and physical health, assets, recreational areas, spiritual and community etc. Be creative and quickly write down all possible goals you can think of. There is no need for you to edit or criticise them at this stage as you can review them later.

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  • Consider short, medium and long-term goals

    To ensure that your short term goals contribute to your medium term goals and your medium term goals contribute to achieving your long term goals, try establishing your long term goals first. Also make sure you can achieve what you want in the time frame you set.

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  • Write effective goal statements

    Writing your goals can help to clarify what you need to do. Written goals serve as good reminders of what you are aiming for. When writing goal statements use SMART:

    Specific:Ensure your goals are very clear and specific . Your "fuzzy vision" might be to become fitter and your specific goal might be:"I will increase my fitness levels by going for walks."

    Find a way to measure your progress "I will increase my fitness levels by going for half hour walks at least three times a week."

    Think of goals that align with your core values. If a goal is authentic, your motivation is going to be much higher, increasing your ability to achieve the goal. This is a very important aspect of goal setting. If one of your values is conserving the natural environment, then your goal might become: "I will walk the half hour to uni instead of driving during the week."

    This is the reality check. Is your goal unrealistic? What evidence do you have that you can achieve this goal? Goals need to be stretching; however they become de-motivating if we don't make the progress we expect. Do you need to modify your goal in some way to make it achievable? "I will start with 10 minute walks for the first three days and then add another 10 minutes over the next three days."

    Time Bound: Setting a deadline usually means we put in the effort to meet it. Three months is a good period of time to see change. Revisit your "fuzzy vision" and then set your shorter term goals so they are one step towards creating that vision.

    Turn one of your brainstormed goals into a SMART goal.

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  • Prioritise your goals

    Try ranking each goal on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the least important and 10 being the most important) and pick 1 to 5 of the goals you have ranked the highest to focus your efforts on over the next few months.

    • Determine the steps you need to take to achieve your goal

    You should try imagining you have already accomplished your goal and work backwards, writing down each specific step you took in order to achieve your goal. Think about where you are? What you are doing? Who are you with? How do you feel? Also make a list of the resources you need to accomplish your goal, such as a reliable vehicle, a business network, information etc.

    • Be flexible for unexpected circumstances/changes

    Be prepared to make adjustments to your goals. For example, one of your short term goals may be to join a soccer team, but due to knee injury over the weekend, this may have to be changed to a long term goal instead. Also, be flexible in altering your strategies for achieving your goal.

Topic 5 Being Aware of My Influences

When trying to understand who you are, what your personal goals are and where you want to be, you should also think about what factors are influencing these. Influences can have positive and negative affects, so being able to identify your influences may be critical to understanding and achieving your goals. Often you may not have the final decision over what you study, as the needs of the community and your family wishes are considerations that affect you. For example, your parents want you to become a doctor and therefore you enrol to study medicine at university. Whether this is a positive or negative influence depends on whether medicine is YOUR interest.

Influences can be broken into three categories:

Social Influences

Your personal and strong influences:

  • Family: parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties, siblings, cousins
  • Family traditions
  • School values/ethos
  • Teachers, coaches, minister/priest, employer
  • Friends
  • Cultural/societal values and norms
  • Media
  • Chance/serendipity

Environment/Contextual Influences

General influences with little control:

  • Political decisions
  • Historical trends
  • Geographical location
  • Employment market
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Globalisation


The past influences the present, together the past and present influence the future, and future aspirations influences decisions made in the present.

  • Past
  • Present
  • Future

Not every person is subjected to the same influences and the impact of a particular influence will vary between individuals. Evaluate the advice you are given and use the advice which is most helpful and meaningful to you. Having a self understanding will ease this process for you, saving you from a lot of unnecessary stress.

Activity Five: Influences

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Who else was involved in this process?

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1. Self understanding is the process of

2. Interests refers to

3. Career success and career satisfaction rely heavily on whether or not you enjoy the work you are doing.

4. A skill is

5. Your personal interests can help you decide what career path to take, however it is your __________ that largely determine whether you achieve what you want or not.

6. Your temperament and personal style refer to your

7. Why is it important to have an insight into your own unique personal traits?

8. The earlier and easier it is for you to make appropriate decisions and plans to achieve life goals, the more likely your __________ will build up.

9. Influences can be broken into 3 categories

10. Political decisions are what category of influence?

Creative Commons Licence

Prepare for Uni is adapted from the Career Development Program of the Queensland University of Technology. Licensed under Creative Commons License.