Self-awareness initiates the service-choice spiral and informs the choices you will make on your path. It includes knowing what your current skills and knowledge are. This can help you identify areas you might want to invest in for further development. Self-awareness also refers to knowing your preferences in at least two areas. The first set of preferences is about your job. For example, what type of work interests you? What roles might you play? And where will you work? What kind of organization will offer you the opportunity to pursue your service preferences? Will you serve domestically or overseas? At your organization's headquarters or in the field? We further explore options in answer to these questions in Chapter 7. The second type of preferences concerns the quality of life you have in mind, including salary requirements, and issues concerning personal and family life (more on this in Chapter 9). These two sets of preferences are obviously related.
Together, your awareness of your skills and knowledge, and your preferences inform your career choices. Along the way, as noted in Chapter 3, the communities with whom you work will assist you in better understanding your relative strengths and weaknesses in terms of skills and knowledge, and will help you to understand trade-off decisions with respect to your preferences. A less tangible, but fundamental component of self-awareness concerns your values and associated vision for what service and development mean, and where you, in the role you see for yourself, fit in that vision. These considerations get to the core of why you're interested in and committed to service, and will help you to clarify the best option for how you will do it. Remember that the best option is not going to be a “once and for always” choice. As the service-choice spiral illustrates, you will revisit your choices over the years, and they will be different at different phases in your career. Further, some choices come with built-in time limits, for example, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, so you'll need to answer the questions we've