“Do what you love” is career advice that’s easy to give, but notoriously hard to follow. For one thing, we can’t always accurately predict what kind of job we’ll love until we’re actually doing it. For another, we may love doing a lot of things: solving math problems, helping others, interior decorating, eating pie, playing with dogs. That doesn’t exactly help narrow down the field.
“Asking yourself what do you want is in many ways the wrong question,” Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia Business School professor and author of The Art of Choosing, said at the Indeed Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, this May. “You get a bazillion options.”
There are far better queries we can make when we’re trying to choose a career path, according to Iyengar’s research. Here are three questions to ponder in order to help select the profession that’s right for you, whether you’re preparing to enter the workforce for the first time or mulling a career change.