Some of us hope we will get a career idea by walking into it (literally or figuratively). However, most career options unfold as the result of both investigation and inspiration.
I think of investigation as the methodical side of career exploration, the step-by-step process of researching, talking, and trying out career options. If you have been reading lots of career articles online, you have probably come across investigation-type advice.
Career inspiration—not to be confused with passion—is the other side of the exploration process. Inspiration is seeing new possibilities as the result of interacting with people, places, concepts, and ideas. Inspiration is more unpredictable than investigation, but might come as a result of walking in a park, reading a magazine, attending a concert or even boredom. I believe that inspiration is essential for seeing new possibilities and sometimes we need a little inspiration in the career exploration process. We can’t manufacture inspiration—it is a byproduct of being mindfully engaged in everyday life. However, it is very rare for career inspiration to strike suddenly and “completely” so that someone has a clear vision of exactly what they want to do for the rest of their life. It is much more common for small inspirations to accumulate over time into a much larger sense of possibilities.
We need to practice both investigation and inspiration activities in our career paths. Investigation can help us to thoroughly explore our options. Inspiration can get us started, keep us going, or even help us change our minds.