Finding meaningful career opportunities that give us joy can be daunting. Many people avoid exploring what gives them joy because they worry that they won’t be able to realize it. As a result, their work lives are less fulfilling than they could be.

I’d like you to find and enjoy a compelling calling for the next stage of your career. In Key #2 in the book Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization and Life, Jay Perry and I provide guidance for how to “Expand Your Resources.” Here’s how you can use “Calling Cards” to make the process fun and productive for you.

1.  What gives you joy? Think of things that give you joy in your work and beyond. Create one stack of green index cards (or pieces of green paper cut to be the size of index cards) with one thing that gives you joy per card. For example, if you like to help others grow, you might write “Develop others” on a card. If you like to tackle tough issues and find solutions, you might write “Solve problems” on another card.

Sometimes, we don’t notice and value some of our strengths and things we enjoy. Ask others to help you identify what they notice gives you joy.

2. What needs appeal to you? Think of the needs you see in your work environment and beyond. Create a stack of yellow index cards (or pieces of yellow paper cut to be the size of index cards) with one need per card. This can be in your current job situation or in other organizations. For example, if your organization faces big challenges in getting people and groups to work together, you might write “Improved collaboration.” If you see a need to deliver telecom solutions to isolated populations, you might write “Connect remote communities.”

As you look at the needs around you, you will not only begin to notice new opportunities but also gain perspective on how what you enjoy doing may fit in the larger picture.

3. What resources do you have? Think of the resources you have (inner qualities, people, places, things, etc.). Create a stack of white index cards (or pieces of white paper cut to be the size of index cards) with one resource per card. In the lower left-hand corner of each card, write the % of the resource that you are currently using. For example, if a colleague in another firm has some insights about an area of interest for you, write her or his name on a card. If you haven’t tapped that person yet, you’d write “0%” in the lower left corner of the card.

Plan to create 100 resource cards to encourage your resourcefulness. As you take the action of writing your resources and noticing how much more you could be tapping them, your confidence and ability to realize your objectives will soar.

4. Create combinations of joys, needs, and resources. Here’s the fun. Mix and match the cards from 1, 2, and 3 above to create opportunities. Invite your partner, friends, coworkers, etc. to play with you and expand the possibilities. Enjoy the brainstorming. Don’t judge the solutions. Write down the possibilities that arise.

Push your creativity. Try a Resource Mash Up. Shuffle each of the three decks and choose a card from each at random. Use your imagination to think of how you could combine them to create an attractive opportunity. Again, tap others to help you. They will see things from a fresh perspective without the blinders or constraints that may obscure possibilities from your vantage point.

5. Pick three combinations to explore further. Use your resources to research the possibilities and conduct informational interviews. Engage other people to help envision how you can bring your joys, the world’s needs, and the resources available to you together.

6. Cull through your possibilities each week. Review the possibilities to determine which are attracting your energy, interest, and additional resources. Keep pursuing those. Weed out any aren’t attracting your energy, interest, and additional resources. Replace them with another possibility.

7. Land on opportunities that sustain your interest and energy. Once you get to 100 resources and have done your weekly work for about a month, you will likely land on some attractive opportunities. They will have become real for you and ready for more active development.

You’ll find more details about next steps in Key #2 of Take Charge of Your Talent, including how to develop a Talent Action Plan to move forward. Key #3 will guide to realize what you want with a compelling personal brand and the tangible proof points to attract your desired opportunity.

Are you willing to play with your Calling Cards?

Have fun and let me know what you discover. I want to understand your challenges and celebrate your successes.