Align My Interests

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June 8, 2023
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min read

Your interests are the things that you want to do and how you can build your career in a way that is enabling you to do those things you want to be doing. We will use Teal’s approach and frameworks to help bring together the notion of interest and values and what matters to you using the following agenda:


In this section we’re going to talk a little bit about our approach to how we think about interests and where it falls in the broader career exploration process.

We think about taking a pause in this career life cycle of explore, search, develop, which we think are these phases or states that you go through. Every time you're going to make a big career decision, you're going to want to take this pause and explore, whether it's for a promotion, a job change, a job transition.

We always revisit our style, our values, our skills, and our interests, and how those map to the career opportunities and occupation that we pursue and that it fits with us. We look at those options, we build the plan, and then we go get it. 

What we want to have happen is to have you working closer and closer to that work that is fulfilling and meaningful for you. 

We can have a passion for a craft, but until we get really good at it, then we can actually understand it as a passion. If you think about things like woodworking or singing or dancing until we get really good, it gets hard to then have that like compulsion to do it.

This pursuit of a passion versus a discovery of passion, we think, is a really powerful mindset. It could actually lead to higher senses of fulfillment because when you find it, it'll be really exciting versus this pursuit of this thing that you don't know what it is. Our passions develop as a result of that patient and persistent effort, that energy and time that goes into developing that craft. 

When we achieve expertise and mastery, then we go more and more into it. And that's when it really becomes a passion. The main thesis being that we find it and discover rather than pursue, and really it's somewhere in the middle because we have to have that intentionality about something that excites us, but we will really feel that energy and that fulfillment.

Having that growth mindset towards your career and thinking about how opportunities create moments for you to grow. 


In this section, we're going to talk about our interests, the things that we're excited to do, we're motivated to do, and bring us closer to that fulfilling work.

What is an interest? They're the things that you enjoy professionally and personally. That's an important distinction, professionally and personally, because you're going to have both of these interests, these domains. Some of them are going to be the ones that put food on your table and some are going to be the ones that charge you up from a personal development and learning perspective. 

Let's talk about how we think about those. Pursuing a career choice based on interest can lead to greater personal satisfaction and professional success. If we do the work that we're good at and we're excited about, then that's going to energize us, which is going to mean we're probably going to do a better job. We're going to be that much more engaged and we're going to bring our whole self to that work. 

It's really important that we do the work that we want to do, that we're leaning into those things that excite us. If we're doing work on a regular basis that we don't like doing, and that we're not interested in doing, that's going to wear on us over time.

So let's talk a little bit about how we figure out what our true interests are. There's lots of great frameworks for this. It's been a topic of research for many years from the early days of Frank Parson's work, thinking about vocations and people would be put through sort of tests and surveys to find what the right vocation for them was, to Cal Newport, which is a bit more modern looking out or intrinsic motivation and expertise and getting the fulfillment from our interests. 

We're doing this work that brings mastery, and that goes back to this idea that our passions come from mastery and fulfillment instead of this pursuit of an idea of what we want to do. It's actually, when we feel it and touch it and do it, that we get really excited. What we advocate for is this understanding of a personal interest and a professional interest.

And that's not to say that those two can't be one, but you want to be mindful of the pressure that's on those interests. The distinction we make is that the personal interest replenishes you when you're not working. There are those things that energize you and give you that release from work because we need that.

If we're working all the time, then we don't get that moment to pause and recharge and let our minds go into other places that professional work energizes you. But it's the thing that kind of gives you that commercial viability. It's how you make money. It's what puts food on the table. It's what we do during the workday.

The workday is how you define it. That could be the weekends. That could be the nights, but the time that you're on the clock for yourself. Those two can be distinctly different. You have activities that you do professionally and activities that you do personally. For the longest time I wanted to be an artist and I wanted to draw and the idea of that needing to have commercial viability that I needed to charge for.

It took away the excitement and the energy of that for me, so I never really wanted that to be a professional interest. I wanted that to stay in the realm of personal interest. I explored it. I tried it and I didn't like the pressure that it put on it. 

Then there are things that I do day in and day out that I absolutely love like this career work and helping people grow their careers. It is a professional interest and it's also very much a personal interest. I read about it on the weekends, but I'm very excited for that to be the thing that puts food on my table and produces my paycheck and that I can have that deep passion about. Maybe one day I'll have hit a point where I want art to be the thing that makes me money, but having that distinction is really powerful.

So that's why we think about the two differences and then how they can potentially be one and the same, but it's good to manage both. As you start to understand your interests, you want to be mindful of how they weave into your work that you are doing, allowing you to explore your interest, those natural curiosities, those abilities that you want to develop and grow.

Some you may already be good at, and you want to get to a level of mastery and some you want to explore for the first time. It's important that those are present in the work that you're doing so you can feel that sense of growth. And sometimes we may not be super clear on what those interests are.

We need to go back and think about the times that we took action, because we may have these perceived interests and we don't know why we may think that might be good for our career. We may feel some sense of external pressure on why we should do that which happens a lot with careers.

Think about these times in your life that you had agency, you had control of your time and think about what you did, in these various stages as a child, a pre-teen a teenager, a young adult, or as a professional, what did you do with your free time? And then think about that. Was that something that you wanted to be your occupation?

What were those classes you took in school when you had a choice to pick an elective? What did you pick? When you buy books to read on the nights and weekends, what are they? These non-fiction books that give us knowledge or these articles around these non-fiction topics, or even fiction, there may be some ideas there on themes that we're interested in and go through that process of thinking about, do we want that to be what we do day in and day out to earn our paycheck?

When you think about it in your profession, think about which projects you've done that were most fulfilling. If you're in the midst of a career pivot, and you're thinking about what it is that you want to do, go back to every project you've ever done. I'm sure you had moments that you were excited about. It might have been 1% out of the 100, but think about those things that were exciting and fulfilling to you.

If they're not there, think about what little tweaks you would've made to make them exciting. This is where you want to go back and put on that growth mindset, how these challenges were opportunities for growth. And think about that you might wanna then think about in your previous jobs.

What did you enjoy most? Was it interacting with the people? Was it times that you got to teach and mentor? Was it times that you got to put your head down and work on hard problems? Think about those moments that excited you and energized you. Those are those passions and interests. That's when you can see what you were doing, you can discover them from past actions.

From an idea of what you think passion and fulfillment looks like in the future, think about these moments that you were in flow, times that you were working and you just got lost. You look at the clock and hours went by because you were so engrossed in your work that it was able to put you in a sense of flow.

Work that we're interested in is the kind of work that enables us to do that, so use those as moments to discover your peak interests as it relates to your work

Bring it Together

In this section, we're going to talk about how your skills and your interests intersect. 

Let’s take a look at  the framework for fulfilling work. This is where we want to bring all these things together. In particular, right now, we want to talk about the intersection of skills and interests, those energizers. What are the things that bring us energy and charge us up? That's the work that's honestly easier for us to do. 

So far, if you've done the classes in order, you should have the following documented:

  • Styles - what comes easy
  • Values - what’s important + your vision
  • Skills - energizers + potentials
  • Interests - what you enjoy 

When you have those all together, the thing we're looking for is career fit. What is that work that aligns with our sense of fulfillment and what are those career opportunities that enable that for us? 

You want to go back and look at the process and make sure that we've got our values, our interests. Now here is where we can start to explore what those career possibilities are. We can test them, iterate, analyze them, and put together our plan. Then go ahead and find it and explore it. 

That might be internally at the company we're working at. That might be in the context of a career pivot or a transition. Once we get clear on what we want to do and what those occupations are that fulfill us, then we're that much closer to the fulfilling work. What we want to understand is our interests. What are those things that we're excited about?

Categorically, cyber security, health, climate change, home decor, those are interests. These are these things we want to pursue that we've discovered a passion for by getting to do some of it. Then what are those skills that energize us? The energizers are the skills that we enjoy doing and that we’re good at. 

Here are some examples:

So there's these skills that we're good at and we want to do them. Those are the energizers. And so let's call it. Let's look at some examples here. I am wanting to do marketing. In this interest of cyber security. Okay you can do marketing in cyber security, or you can do marketing in healthcare, and I'm not going to go ahead and read through all of these, but you get the idea of these skills, tactics, abilities that intersect with the interest.

We have a tool, the Interests Workbook, to help you map out the things you’re excited about.

(Use Teal’s Interest Workbook to help you identify your interests and how they align with your skills)
Use Teal’s Interest Workbook to help you identify your interests and how they align with your skills.

Watch the video to see a thorough walkthrough of how to use it. We recommend that you fill this out, use it to explore those potentials that sit at the intersection of your interests and your energizers, and hopefully that'll help you explore some new potentials.


In this section, we're going to talk about blockers. Oftentimes we will tell ourselves we can't make these career changes. There are reasons we can't make this shift or we can't find that opportunity. We are going to talk through some of the tactics and techniques for how you can overcome that. 

What is a blocker? A blocker is something that's getting in the way of you making your career shift. You might say to yourself, I don't have that experience for that. I haven't done it before. We want to give you some tactics to unblock these blockers. 

Here's some examples of blockers.

  • Gaps in knowledge, skills, credentials, and experiences
  • Finances - (what are your expenses and your runway)
  • Family needs - revisit values
  • Economic conditions and industry changes
  • Limiting beliefs - “I’m not good enough”

Let's start with talking about filling in the gaps. It's important that you have a growth mindset. Anyone can learn anything. Some of us might have talents and things that we have a more natural disposition for, but with the growth mindset, and if it is something you want to learn and you're excited about, and you employ deliberate practice, you can get good at it. 

Filling Knowledge Gaps

Filling Skills Gaps

Filling Experience Gaps

Prove your ability:

  • Find new projects (current job or outside of job)
  • Identify volunteer opportunities
  • Become a thought leader (write articles)
  • Create a portfolio

What you want to be clear on is that you have control. A lot of times in these situations, we will feel out of control. We feel like we don't have that.

Think about those things that you want. Get deliberate about those abilities that you need to have, those gaps you need to fill, and systematically line them up and knock them out. You can absolutely take control of it and get to that career that you're excited about.

Get rid of those limiting beliefs, or those things that you believe to be true that get in your way of making progress.  Let's look at some examples and different kinds of limiting beliefs. 

Obviously those pressures are real, and they're intense, and we don't in any way mean to trivialize them, but think about what it means to come out on the other end of this having work that is fulfilling, exciting, energizing. That's what we're after here. There's no need to have that work every day that drains you and does not excite you. We want to help you get to that place of having your work be a source.

You want to get out of this cycle of limiting belief, which then prevents us from taking no action, which then is no change. We get stuck and we have a little bit of this self-fulfilling prophecy of the belief, which means we don't do it, which means we see no change. 

Really what you want to do is you want to break the cycle.

You want to reframe that limiting belief and embrace that growth mindset. Start to challenge that behavior and take action and see those results. 

You can change your beliefs. Here are some examples:

Think about how you reframe them, take these limiting beliefs, these problems, and convert them into challenges and opportunities for growth. Think about them as objectives rather than blockers.

The more you can do that with each limiting belief, the more you can open up your potential and move progress towards doing that fulfilling work that excites you. You can unlearn what is untrue. These limiting beliefs are in your mind. The majority of them can be broken. There are people that do incredible things on a daily basis when they set their mind to it, and they can make that incremental process.

In the workbook that we've created for interests, there's a separate tab to help you document your limiting beliefs, the blockers, and the strategies that you can take to get past them. 

(List your blockers and strategies you can use to get past them to grow your career on your own terms)
List your blockers and strategies you can use to get past them to grow your career on your own terms.

Wrap Up

What's important is you identify those things that have charged you up and excited you as you've done the work. Those are going to be the passions, instead of this kind of uninformed belief in this work that will energize us. Take a retrospective process and think about the times you've done things that excited you.

Use these tools to help you get a little closer to an understanding of what it is that you're interested in, which will then inform and unlock the career opportunities that you could pursue.

Related Articles:

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify my interests if I'm unsure about what they are?

Start by reflecting on activities that make you lose track of time or bring you joy, even if they seem trivial. Consider past experiences, hobbies, or topics that spark your curiosity. You can also try new experiences to discover hidden passions. Keep a journal to note when you feel most engaged or fulfilled, as this can provide insights into your interests.

What steps can I take to align my career with my interests?

Begin by assessing your current job and identifying aspects you enjoy. Research career paths that incorporate your interests and seek informational interviews with professionals in those fields. Consider further education or certifications if necessary, and create a plan to develop skills aligned with your interests. Remember, it's a gradual process, so start with small, manageable steps towards a career that resonates with your passions.

Can my interests change over time, and how should I handle that in my career?

Interests can certainly evolve as you gain new experiences and grow personally. It's important to stay flexible and open to change in your career. Regular self-assessment can help you stay aligned with your evolving interests. Be prepared to pivot or upskill if needed, and don't be afraid to seek out new opportunities that better match your current passions.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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