Whether you're a college student deciding on your major or a seasoned professional looking for a job change, it's common to feel that you're the only one struggling to find direction. It's also incredibly frustrating.
"Some people just know the answer to this question, and they've always known," bestselling management author Suzy Welch tells CNBC Make It. "But for the rest of us — I'm looking at you, college seniors — it's not always obvious."
If the question of what to do with your life has you stumped, take a minute to try this exercise Welch recommends to everyone looking to zero-in on the passion that could become a career. It can help you identify your "area of destiny," a phrase she and husband Jack Welch borrowed from Pastor Terry Smith of The Life Christian Church of West Orange, New Jersey.
It's a classic Venn diagram, with a twist. Grab a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and draw three large circles that overlap in the center. Then devote each circle to one of the corresponding subjects:
"In the first circle, identify the skills or activities that you are uniquely good at," Welch says.
Jot down work-related skills such as writing, research, working with numbers or identifying new trends. Then take some time to add some not-so-obvious skills you have, such as those involving communication or collaboration.
"Be specific in this circle," she says.
The second circle is all about identifying "the things you love doing — these activities make you happy and give you the most pleasure," the bestselling author says.
Think broadly for this circle, Welch recommends, and be sure to write down activities that have nothing to do with your area of study or your job.
For example, if you like traveling, reading or playing tennis, write them down. These hobbies can help you discover what experiences you truly enjoy, such as being in a fast-paced environment, working with others or being able to meet different people regularly.
"Now that you have what you're good at and what you enjoy," Welch says, "the third circle should be used to identify areas of economic growth or opportunity that have interest to you. Where those circles all overlap is your area of destiny."
To fill this circle, check out data on the most promising industries for high-paying, high-growth careers. If you're interested in a particular job, research the skills it requires and whether there are a high number of job listings for that type of role. This way, you'll be able to match your skills to industries that are actively looking for workers.
"Stop wringing your hands and wondering," Welch says. "Instead, use those same hands and draw this Venn diagram to discover your area of destiny."
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker.
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