Are you thinking of choosing or changing your career? Maybe you have been dreaming about a career change but don't know where to start. Perhaps you're getting increasingly bored at work or realizing that opportunities for growth are limited. Or, like many in this economy, you may be unemployed or facing unemployment. Regardless of your reasons, the right career is out there for everyone. Of course, since we all have different skills, interests, experiences and expectations, there's no one career that's best for everyone. So how do you choose the career that's best for you?
Here are 8 tips you should consider when thinking through this important decision:
You may have fallen into the trap of thinking the sole point of work is to bring home enough money to live comfortably. While sufficient compensation is important in any job, it's not the whole story. If you are unsatisfied with what you do every day, it takes a toll on your physical and mental health. You may feel burned out and frustrated, anxious, depressed, or unable to enjoy time at home knowing another workday is ahead. What's more, if you don't find your work meaningful and rewarding, it's hard to keep the momentum going to advance in your career. You are more likely to be successful in a career that you feel passionate about. The first step to choosing a fulfilling career is to uncover the activities that get you excited and bring you joy.
We all have natural talents and transferable skills, certain tasks that come easy to us, that you perform with ease. When we use these skills, time moves fast and we tend to receive compliments for our abilities. Knowing where your natural talents lie is key to choosing the right career. Of course we're capable of doing other things, but those other tasks usually feel more like work. What do you always enjoy doing, and how can those skills be applied to a job; tips to finding your natural talents- don't limit yourself to experiences only at work, brainstorm with trusted friends, colleagues or mentors, and simply make a list your accomplishments.
How much do you value a short commute each day? Is it important that everyday you are home for dinner? Do you live for weekends out at the soccer field watching your kids play? If you need these comforts on a regular basis, pick a career that will give you the time to enjoy them. Look for jobs with regular hours and little to no requirements to work overtime or on weekends, or to travel.
What's your preferred work location? Do you prefer a corporate headquarters type location? Perhaps you like a small regional office or a home office local? Are you the type of person that likes to work from an airport hotel or a beach suite in South Florida? How often do like to work away from home? Do you mind traveling for your job? If living out of a suitcase makes you cringe and you need a consistency in your workplace, avoid careers that require a lot of moving around. Make sure you consider all of this when selecting the best career for you.
Each of us has a preferred work style, even if we don't realize it. That style can sometime conflict with a career choice. For example, a flexible work environment might allow you to deliver projects on various dates, while a structured environment would require specific deadlines and strict guidelines. What works better for you? In which environment do you tend to thrive?
Do you like working with others or as part of a team? Do you prefer to work alone? Are you motivated by the needs of others and your ability to provide a solution? This is all very important because some people shy away from personal connections and would rather deliver value behind the scenes, without the complications of interacting with colleagues and clients. Know your social needs so you can choose a career that best meets them.
Some of us thrive on big deadlines, or being on the hook for important projects. We like being the glue that holds everything together. In this role, people trust you and expect that you'll suck it up and deal well with the pressure. Of course, we all have different stress thresholds. If you thrive under the gun, you may do well in a high-stress career. But if stress makes you want to run the other way, look for jobs that are more laid-back.
As you look forward in life, what are your expectations for money? You might be single now, but maybe you hope to become your future family's breadwinner. Or maybe you're part of a successful two-income family and need to decide whether you're comfortable living on less or compromising on other career aspects, like work-life balance, to earn a better income. If money is the reward you seek, there are careers to match.
If choosing a career feels like too much pressure, here's another option: Pick a path that feels right today by making the best decision you can, and know that you can change your mind in the future. In today's workplace, choosing a career doesn't necessarily mean you have to stick with that line of work for your entire life. Make a smart decision, and plan to re-evaluate down the line based on your long-term objectives.
Recognize that you'll change as time goes on. Your need for money, freedom, balance, and recognition will change with you. But for now, think through each of these ideas, and you'll be well on your way to choosing a career that's best for you.