When I was in 5th grade, I took a test in school that would tell me what career I would be best suited for. My top two results were Radio DJ and Engineer. I’ve never been a DJ, but I do like music. I don’t consider myself an engineer, but a programmer. I guess that was close enough. In retrospect that seems like a strange way to do this, especially when you’re so young. What if my top two results were Janitor and Astronaut?
I think I’ve stumbled upon a good way to find out what you like to do, much better than some multiple choice test that is based off of some statistical sampling (even though that sounds good in theory.)
What’s this way? Three words:
Go on vacation.
You can look at how someone spends his free time and figure out from there what he likes. However, people’s schedules can be filled to the brim with activities that there isn’t much free time left over. So the observations can be skewed.
However, when you go on vacation, you basically take all this free time and package it together into one nice big chunk. You also free yourself up from some of the daily chores that were taking up some of your valuable free time (like feeding the dog or doing laundry.) In essence, you are doing what you would do if you “won a million dollars.” Well, except you’ve got a limited budget and you only get to do it for a week or two at a time (at least in the US; Europeans are probably chuckling right now.)
So next time you’re on vacation, take along a little notebook and write down what you’ve done each day at the end of the day. You may be surprised at what you actually like to do.
Me? Well, I’m writing this blog entry from vacation, so I obviously like doing that, along with reading blogs. I’ve been spending time with my wife, playing with my kids, seeing some sights, and taking pictures. I think those are universal. What’s different is that I also like designing and writing software… on vacation. I’m not working on work stuff, but rather on apps that satisfy my personal needs (and hopefully others as well). Along the way I’m learning new frameworks and techniques that I’ve been interested in like Core Data and Cocoa Bindings. I also like reading books (currently about Cocoa and about business.) And for some reason, I like to watch the NBA Playoffs.