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The Question

I have a degree in public relations and journalism. After I graduated, I fell into working for the BBC. Then, after two years, I went to work in reality TV. (I have also been freelancing as a travel writer with some success.) After a horrendous eight months at the reality TV job, I left. Now, after deciding to move to Canada for a "career break," I'm not sure whether I want to stay working in TV or media or leave it altogether, nor do I really know what skills I have and what I can offer if it came to a new challenge.

I'm 26, which I know is still young, but if I do decide to leave the media and retrain, I would like to do it sooner rather than later. Please help.

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The Answer

This is such a common problem, especially for young people.

I'd strongly encourage you to take a look at the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Yes, I know this book is all about how to take a good company and make it a great company, but I find that the book's "Hedgehog Concept" applies as much to the individual as it does to a large organization. In order to find your own Hedgehog Concept, you need to have a deep understanding of three intersecting circles: What are you deeply passionate about? What are you great at? What drives your economic engine?

In other words, where can you earn a living or build a career that delivers on both your passions and your strengths? It helps to ask yourself the following:

What are you deeply passionate about?

Get out a piece of paper and write down your answers. What are you deeply passionate about? What is deeply important to you? What do you love to do, read about, talk about? What constantly draws your attention? What are your areas of interest? Think of all areas of your life – from sports, to music, to entertainment, to books, to business, to health, to fitness, to the environment, to politics, to community development, to architecture, to design, to computers, to science, to production, to manufacturing, to animals, to children. Think of absolutely all areas where you feel passion and interest.

Don't forget to pause and take a second look at what you are already doing. Just because of a misstep with reality TV, this does not necessarily mean that all "media" is wrong. What drew you to media in the first place? What other areas of the media still interest you? What other possibilities are there? What other types of jobs require a good understanding of media?

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What are you great at?

On a second piece of paper, write down everything you are good at. What comes naturally to you? What do people continuously compliment you on? What praise and recognition have you received in your past work, schooling or other activities? What things do you enjoy? What did your teachers tell you you were good at? What do your friends and family comment about? What did your bosses look to you for, rely on you for, turn to you for because you were good at it? What subjects did you excel at in school? Are you a good writer? Communicator? Teacher? Are you a good project planner? Negotiator? Analyst? Are you a good scientist, mathematician, cook? Are you good at sales, relationship building, technology? Again, it's about looking at all your schooling, work experience and other activities, and evaluating where your strengths lie.

What are the job possibilities at the intersection?

Review your two lists. What are the themes? What keeps showing up? What calls your attention more than others? What jobs and careers exist at the intersection of these two categories?

As you go through these exercises, ask for help from friends and mentors – it will make the job much easier, and it will help you to see through the clutter and hone in on something exciting. Help from others will also provide you with a broader scope of what jobs are out there that you may not even know about.

Katie Bennett is a coach and speaker and head of Double Black Diamond Coaching in Vancouver.

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Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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