In Three steps: how to start taking a personal inventory to plan your career ahead

By Joleen Little BVSc MRCVS

How many times have you asked yourself these questions this week?

  • Am I in the right career?
  • What kind of change would be best for me?
  • Should I stay in practice or leave the veterinary profession altogether?

These big-picture questions leave many fumbling for direction. And that’s where a personal inventory comes into play.


What is a personal inventory?


Taking a personal inventory means reflecting inwardly and taking stock of what makes you, you. From personality types to morals and interests, these are the truths that define you as a person. And taking a moment to really assess your intrinsic makeup could make setting a new plan of action that much easier.

There are a variety of tools available, as well as some easy practices, you can use to take a comprehensive personal inventory. It might be a little disconcerting to sit and look inward, but the results are well worth it. Truly understanding how your personal interests play a major role in your development professionally and personally could set you up for long-term happiness and success.


Why would I want to take a personal inventory?


If your daily grind has become familiar, if you’re feeling unrest but can’t put your finger on it, then it’s time to take a step back and look inward. Taking stock of your wants and goals is necessary. It’s even more important to be honest about whether your current daily actions are aligned with your aspirations.

Looking inward doesn’t have to be daunting.

Follow these three steps for a comprehensive personal inventory and start working toward your goals with a new spring in your step.


  1. Identify areas you’d like to work on


First things first — you need to make a list. Grab some paper and a pen, find a quiet space, and categorise major components in your life. Some options might include:

  • Relationships
  • Career
  • Finances
  • Health

Then, list out what’s going right in your life (eating three meals a day, incorporating lots of veggies, etc.) and things you’d like to change (too much sugar, less coffee, etc.).

Don’t list negatives. It’s important to see things you’d like to change vs. things that you think are “wrong” or “bad.” The whole purpose of this exercise isn’t to bring you down, but to bring to light things that are potentially hindering you from reaching your highest potential.

When it comes to this portion of taking a personal inventory, there’s no right or wrong way to evaluate yourself. You simply need to be honest — no one else needs to see this list, so there’s no reason to fabricate your answers. Having a concrete list of things, you can easily refer to is a step in the right direction.


Now that you have the list out of the way, don’t forget to ask why.

Why do you want to lose weight?

Why do you want to shift your career and start a new business?


Try narrowing your focus. Maybe you want to become an entrepreneur so you can set your own work schedule and spend more time traveling. Maybe you want to start your own business so you can donate a portion of the proceeds to a cause you’re passionate about. Keeping these motives front and centre in your mind will help you when the going gets rough.



  1. Take a personality test


Personality tests are a great way to flesh out your personal inventory. They often reveal strengths and weaknesses for each personality type, giving you an insight as to why you act the way you do (which is a great thing to understand when it comes to setting and achieving goals). There are no wrong answers when it comes to taking a personality test. Just be honest so you can get an accurate measurement of your personality.

There is a plethora of online personality tests available, so don’t hesitate to test out more than one to truly get a comprehensive look at what makes you tick. Options like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Big Five Personality Test will provide an in-depth assessment of your inner workings, giving you the tools to make informed decisions about yourself.

Taking a personality test can you help you:

  • Make educated career decisions.
  • Provide insight about possible further study or qualifications.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses, both personally and professionally.


When it comes to taking a personal inventory, taking a personality test (or two) is a natural next step. You’ve got your list of things you’d like to work on, and now you need a clearer picture for how you’re going to make those changes (or maybe a better understanding of why those things are even on your list to begin with).

Keep the results of your personality test with your list of areas you’d like to work on. It’s nice to have that information easily accessible so you can revisit it if you need clarification again.



  1. Conduct an interest inventory


A good interest inventory will help you gauge everything from your favourite recreational activities all the way down to work-related preferences and interests. And just like with your personality test and identification of areas you’d like to change, be honest. There’s no benefit to fibbing on your answers – in fact, it might hinder you more in the long run!

There are a few online options for taking an interest inventory, including: Strong Interest Inventory

Your results aren’t end-all-be-all.

You’re not limited to your results, so don’t feel downtrodden if they aren’t what you expected.

Once you’ve taken an “interest inventory”, add your results to your growing personal inventory packet. Between your list of things, you’d like to work on, your personality tests, and now your completed interest inventory, you should have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal to guide you in the right direction.

In conclusion

 At this point, you probably have a lot of information at your fingertips. Review your results, brainstorm options, and do your research. Now that you’ve got a grip on what makes you tick, you’re ready to turn your dreams into a reality.

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