For the last three days…scratch that…for the last three years I’ve been obsessing over what career path I should take. And this is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. In the case that you’re in the same predicament as me I have a few pieces of advice. This is an excellent guide for my list-makers out there.
1) Stop thinking about what you should and can’t do. Start thinking about what you love to do.
This career path is your career path. Don’t let anyone else (including society) choose this path for you because only you truly know what’s best for you. Don’t let doubt make its way into your thought process. Right now, the things you’re bad at don’t matter and they shouldn’t get in your way. Focus on you and what you love. What kinds of things do you like? (e.g. I like dogs and r&b music). What kind of activities do you enjoy? (e.g. I like texting and having quiet time). Write them down.
2) Look at the things you like and love and ask yourself why.
You can learn things about yourself by breaking down these likes and loves. I’ll give you and example of how I broke down the ones I mentioned above. Why do I like dogs? I like dogs because they’re always happy and there for you when you need them. This can be translated into a need for support from those around me. So maybe I need to work in a supportive environment to excel at my job. Lets do one more. Why do I like texting? I like texting because it allows me to share my thoughts and bounce ideas off of others via writing. What I get from this is that I like to express myself through writing and that I need to come together with others sometimes to get my brain juices flowing better. So as you can see there’s a lot to be learned about yourself through the simple things you like and love.
3) Make a second list of the things you’re just naturally good at.
For me I’m good at formal writing, fixing things that aren’t working well, and meeting deadlines.
4) Make a third list of your values. Answer this question: What’s important to me in terms of a career?
For me I listed things like stability, a need to work independently, and working with other professionals.
5) Take a look at your lists and do some weeding and singling out.
Cross out some things that don’t correlate directly to a future career. For example I know that my love of R&B and fancy dinners is more of a personal preference and something I’ll probably only be concerned with in my personal life. Put asterisks or check marks by anything that strikes you as important to your future career. I checked off things like my love of observing people, my love of sharing knowledge, my need to work independently, and my need of structure.
6) Take your polished lists and use them to create a final list.
Take the starred/checked off things throughout the lists and compile them to create the master list. Your final list should be an organized list of about 10 or so things. It should give you an idea of what you require from a future career. It should give you an idea not only of what kinds of tasks you would really excel at but also what tasks you would enjoy doing.
7) Now take your master list and have it in hand when you explore career options.
Look for careers that match up with the things on your list. You want a career that satisfies your most basic requirements like working M-F/9-5 or being able to work independently. You want a career that allows you to do what you excel at in an environment that also helps you to excel. You want a workplace that you will enjoy coming to because it reflects your values and passions in life.
And there it is folks. That’s my advice turned guide to finding a suitable career path for yourself. I’m not promising that you’ll come up with the perfect career after doing this but I’m not promising that you won’t. It’s a great stepping stone if you’re just completely lost or even if you’ve been around the block and just hate your current path. If you’ve got any comments, questions, or concerns please don’t hesitate to let me know about them. If you found this helpful or you think someone else would, please do share it.