By Davis Nguyen
Last month, I gave a talk at my high school. During the Q&A session, a student asked me what I did for community service (our high school requires a certain number of hours).
In high school I had done more than three times the required amount, but it was the first time I really thought about why I chose those particular activities.
I thought about answering the student’s question by telling her what I did: “I spent most of my time going door-to-door collecting unwanted books.” But that hadn’t been how I viewed my community service. While I was volunteering for a Nigerian non-profit, I saw my task as helping Nigerian students 6,000 miles away get a chance to read books that would otherwise go unread.
Had I looked at my required community service as something I had to do, it would seem like a chore. Instead I asked, “Why does it matter that I do this?”
How I almost stopped myself from finding a job I was passionate about
If I selected my community service projects by asking “Why do I want to do this?” instead of “What do I want to do?”, I realized I didn’t do the same when it came to picking my job.
As I was searching for my first job, my failure to ask “Why does it matter?” instead of “What am I doing?” caused such a headache.
I knew coming out of college that no first job would be perfect. But as most things I had done in life, I made a list of pros and cons of what I would be doing at each potential job. The more I wrote the more I found myself uninspired to apply for any of these jobs.
Unlike what I had done with my community service projects in high school, I focused on the “what” instead of the “why” of my job.
How I found my “why”
To find my “why” I started thinking about the people who I looked up to most who were changing the world. The type of people I wanted to grow into someday.
I knew I wouldn’t be a CEO of a large company out of college, but I thought about the people I looked up to and why I looked up to them. I asked myself, what qualities do I admire in them?
I made a new list. Instead of pros and cons, I made a list of qualities I wanted in myself, and I restarted my job search. The qualities I listed included:
- Being a more structured thinker
- Gaining more self-discipline
- Being challenged to deliver every day
- Being a better communicator
- Being better at time management, and
- Constantly learning
My “why” for each job became “because it will help me become the type of person I want to be.” I looked at jobs that would help me reach my “why.”
We’d love to hear from you in the comments:
What type of person do you want your job to help you become?
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Davis Nguyen (@justdavisnguyen) is currently on a year-long quest to connect with 52 entrepreneurs, writers, and motivational speakers who are already living the life he wants to live. Want to know how to connect with your role models?