Self-awareness - Your Interests

How to Make Life Changing Decisions: Self-Awareness (Part 3 -Your Interests)

Self-Awareness: Having a good understanding of your ‘Interests’ can help you to make the right decisions in life.

Self-Awareness - Your Interests
Self-Awareness – Your Interests

Amongst those people who find it relatively easy to make important life changing decisions, a common denominator seems to be a high degree of self-awareness.

If you are about to make a major change to your life, having a clear understanding of your: Values; Needs; Interests; Transferable Skills; and Goals can provide you with increased confidence when it comes to making those important decisions. In this, the third, part of the ‘How to Make Life Changing Decisions: Self-Awareness’ series I’m going to look at Your Interests.

Self-Awareness – Your Interests

Interests are thought to be related to career success and job satisfaction and people who work in a  career that match their interests are more likely to be happy and satisfied in their job. So, for example, if you enjoy coaching a football team in your spare time, you would probably enjoy a job where you have to draw up plans and/or manage a team. If your hobby’s painting you might enjoy a job in the creative industries.

However, having an awareness of your interests can not only help you to make better career decisions but it can also be used to guide you when making other important decisions in life – based upon the fact that if you know what interests you, and therefore motivates and inspires you, then you are more likely to make decisions that are right for you.

The late psychologist John Holland discovered that people’s personalities and interests incline them to particular types of occupation and these can be expressed in terms of six broad personality/interest areas (RIASEC).

Holland’s Personality/Interest Types:

Realistic (practical, doers, things focus): People with a Realistic orientation usually enjoy practical activities such as working with plants, animals, natural materials and machinery. They prefer to work a problem through by doing something rather than talking about it and, like concrete approaches to problem solving rather than abstract theory. Basically they like to work with things – building things and mending things and often have good motor coordination too. Hobbies may include: outdoor recreation, athletics, gardening, do-it-yourself, carpentry, and doing solo sports such as ice-skating, scuba diving, cycling, jogging, swimming or working out at the gym.

Investigative (thinkers, ideas focus):  People with an Investigative orientation enjoy investigating why or how things occur or work. They take an intellectual, theoretical approach to tasks, and like to go deeply into a topic rather than just skim the surface. They might be interested in scientific hobbies such as astronomy, geology, and botany, and may enjoy activities such as web design, doing crossword puzzles, playing board games, visiting museums, watching documentaries on TV, photographic development, collecting various objects like stamps and coins, attending lectures and self-development. They tend to prefer individual rather than people orientated activities.

Artistic (creative, ideas, things and people focus) People with an artistic orientation like to work with forms, designs and patterns.

Self-Awareness - A Realistic orientation
Self-Awareness – A Realistic orientation

 They tend to be open, inventive, original, perceptive, sensitive, independent and emotional. They often require self-expression, and don’t like to follow a set of rules. Hobbies may include: photography; flower arrangement; writing and poetry; sewing; painting, craft making; restoring antiques, sculpting, dancing; playing a musical instrument, visiting art galleries, exhibitions, plays or concerts, travel and learning languages.

Social (helpers, carers, teachers, people focus): People with a Social orientation like to help and care for others. They often have good interpersonal and communication skills and may enjoy activities such as meeting friends, attending sports events, caring for children, dancing, parties, training others, working with groups , serving others, and mediating. Possible interests and pastimes may include community service, religious activities, organising social events, developing personal relationships, e.g. visiting and working with people who are old, handicapped and taking part in guides, scouts and youth groups. They usually prefer to work directly with individuals.

Enterprising (persuaders, organise, people and data focus): People with an Enterprising orientation like to start and carry out projects, like to lead people and make decisions. They often tackle problems with energy and enthusiasm, and don’t mind taking risks. Hobbies may include selling products, operating a home business, attending talks and conferences, leadership roles within the community, campaigning, networking at social events, political activities, competitive sports such as squash, tennis, rugby, and snooker, and travel.

Conventional (organisational, administrative, data and think focus): People with a Conventional orientation often like to follow a set of procedures and routines, and prefer to work with data and details more than ideas. They often like to keep records and files, work with numbers and enjoy organising, collecting and categorising things. Hobbies may include home improvement, collecting items such as coins, stamps, photo albums and scrapbooks.

Which of Holland’s Personality/Interest areas do you belong to?

  • First, ask yourself ‘What do I like doing? This can include both things that you like to do at work and in your leisure time.
  • Secondly, make a list of all the things you like to do on an A4 piece of paper and beside each activity write down a few details for each one. For example, is it an activity that you do alone or with other people? Is it an energetic activity? Does it require motor coordination or concentration? Does it involve deep thinking, organisational skills or imagination?
  • Thirdly, now take a look at Holland’s personality/interest areas and identify which of the categories are consistent with the interests you have listed.

My personality/interest area is primarily IE

Self-awareness - An Investigative orientation
Self-awareness – An Investigative orientation

When I do this exercise there are two groups which really stand out as being particularly consistent with the things that I like doing, or my interests, and these are Investigative and Enterprising. These two categories are consistent with the fact that I enjoy learning new things and, particularly like watching medical and social science documentaries and, with my interest in business and in particularly making my own decisions.

There are two other groups that have a similar, but smaller weighting than the two above, and these are Social and Artistic. These two categories are consistent with my interest in helping people (I particularly like advising people) and doing anything creative such as drawing, sewing, and writing, and with my interest in period costumes and attending cultural events and exhibitions.

Being aware of my interest areas allows me to make better decisions in life, because I always ensure that my interests are taken into account when making changes in my life. For example, when my husband and I looked at places to live in Spain it was really important to ensure that we found somewhere with easy airport access and good communication infrastructure so that I could continue with my business and be able to continue working with my clients (helping people). It was also important that we found an area that had plenty of culture such as art, museums, theatres and concert halls.

We could have decided to buy a gorgeous finca in the mountains that was far from anywhere, but had poor access to all of the amenities listed above. We would probably love living there for a while, but I know that within a short space of time, both my husband and I (as we share similar interests – running our own business and learning new things) would be very unhappy indeed. We would have made a bad decision. Therefore, whenever we think about changing aspects of our life or have to make decisions that will affect our life in any way, we always ensure that we satisfy our interests – what motivates us, what inspires us and ultimately what makes us happy!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. If you have not read the previous two articles in this series you can click the following links Self-Awareness Part 1 and Self-awareness Part 2 and, another article that you might be interested in is ‘How People Make Life- Changing Decisions‘.

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