I've seen a lot of career advice out there lately that includes something along the lines of "Figure out what you really loved to do as a child and then turn that into your job." You can't see me right now, but I'm making a total dead pan face as I write that. I'm pretty sure that as a child I enjoyed nothing that mirrored rehabilitating violent offenders back into the community. Conversely, I have not found a way to make money climbing trees and concocting weird potions out of my leftover lunch. It's just not that easy sometimes.
Now, I can think back to about high school and, at least at the time, I felt that a lot of my friends trusted me with their problems. Some who weren't even particularly close to me valued my listening skills and confidentiality. So it's easy to look back in hindsight admittedly say, I had some of those strengths that I use now in my career as a psychologist. But if you have read how I came to be a psychologist in one of my earlier posts, you know that it wasn't even on my radar until late in the game. Once you pick the field you in which you want to work, there are still so many decisions to be made about specific environments, specialties, and areas of expertise. Here's how to bring it into focus.
1. Be negative!
You probably have pretty strong feelings towards what you do not want to do and who you do not want to work with or what projects you definitely do not want to be a part of. Sort of like when seeking a relationship. We generally have things on our lists that are total deal breakers; people you would never choose to have as a long-term partner. In much the same way, if you figure out what you don't want to do for a living, the viable options (based on your interests) will rise to the top.
How I applied this step: I knew that I didn't want to work with children or with a particularly "boring," run-of-the-mill population. Sitting in an office listening to a desperate housewife sounded so boring to me.