In my previous article, Step #1, we discussed the many responsibilities we have as mothers, wives, and business women. Your challenge for the month was to research where your passion lies. Based on your research you might have discovered that self investigation can lead us to two places; either we find out our answer or we realize we need to ask more questions to get that answer.
Finding your purpose takes great effort, but can be effortless all at the same time. It seems that once we begin pursuing that in which we were intended, everything falls into place. But the matter we have to realize is that time plays a great role. Sometimes people are over night successes and others have to nurture their purpose for years to come. Keep in mind though, as long as you enjoy what it is you are pursuing and the motivation you have is strong, than that alone will sustain your ambition and provide your passion longevity.
Remember you are making a commitment to yourself. You should treat that commitment the same way you would treat a marriage or devoted friendship. The key is to value yourself the way you value others. Having a good attitude from the very beginning can make the difference and not only affect your career, but the people around you. Self dedication does show and the commitment will be reflected in your professional life and relationships.
Assuming you now have a general idea of what you would like to do, now you need to visualize how to get from Point A, where you are now, to Point B, where you would like to be. Sometimes it is easier to set up a structure for your business if you look at the large picture of your purpose and where you intend to be in the future. Granted your ideas and goals change as you change, but your general purpose will usually remain the same, it just branches out.
Now that you have researched what you want to do, take the time to research what others in your area of interest have already done. Conducting market research will allow you to get a feel for the industry you are entering. It's important to see what is out there. Look up trade journals and magazines. Really put some effort into getting involved with your career and learning about it. Every career has an abundant amount of resources available and a lot of that information is free. If you see a trade journal or magazine that you like, sign up for their newsletter. This will help keep you updated on industry events and trends.
Reading and researching can be one sided tasks. Sometimes it is easier to learn about your career by actually interacting with others in the field. This can be done on your own time instead of regular business hours thanks to the internet. Now you can find chat groups, users groups, and forums and you are not limited by time zones or borders.
One of my favorite resources is Yahoo Groups. You can look up any particular subject and find a group where you can discuss some of your career objections. This is an excellent way to network with your peers and experts in the field. It is not uncommon to find a lot of other "newbies" in these groups as well as professionals. The most important thing is to not be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know what questions to ask then reading over the archives of a group is a great place to start. Groups vary in size and subject so what I suggest is to join a couple to see which ones fit your personal needs.
Another resource you can use is ListServ lists. Typically you subscribe through your email client to a discussion group within your field of interest. You can also do a search for "listserves" or "user groups" on the internet to pull up a vast amount of sites that list an array of groups. Not all lists are created equal so again use your own judgment when joining.
I also personally like forum communities. You can often search for "forums" online to find one in your career field. It's a great opportunity to share your discoveries as well as learn from others. Not to mention you can do several searches within a forum and read old posts. This is a great way to see other member profiles which often reference their personal or business websites. Some forums even have a 'members' section that lists all their members profiles. Any profile with a "www" by their name usually has a live link to their site. Be sure to take the time and visit these sites for reference.
When you are visiting other people's websites in your field, I advise you to check and see if they have a links page. I have found so many great resources through other people's links pages. Also it helps you get an idea of what sites you can possibly request link exchanges from in the future.
By networking with others and conducting your own market research, you will gain a better sense of direction and get an idea where it is you want to be in the future with your career. If you see a website that you like, bookmark it. Then once you have collected enough information, go back and review your favorites once more. Ask yourself what do you like about it? What information was useful to you? Was the site visually appealing? Was the site easy to navigate? If not, what would you change? What information would you add? Take notes, write your thoughts down and remember... patience plus perseverance, equals purpose.