How do you choose a career that’s right for you?
Imagine doing something you hate for eight hours a day, five days a week, for the next forty years of your life. That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it. Unfortunately, the reality is that many people dedicate their lives to toiling at a job that is only slightly more enjoyable than having their fingernails yanked out one at a time. Thankfully, your working life does not have to be so grim.
By taking steps to identify a great career fit, you can dedicate your working hours to doing something you love–and work won’t feel like “work” at all.
What are your interests?
If a career choice allows you to incorporate your natural interests into your job, you will not only enjoy it more, but you will likely perform better too. Here are a few ways to identify your interests.
Career tests. While the internet is filled with cutesy tests that are fun to take, but provide little useful information, there are a few helpful tests that are founded on psychometric testing created by well-known career psychologists. Look for tests that are based on Holland Codes, Meyers-Briggs, or the Strong Interest Survey. Your test results should include a list of suitable career choices for you to pick from and a link to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Childhood interests. A great indicator of what you’d enjoy as an adult is what you most loved to do as a child. If you were constantly taking apart the kitchen appliances to see how they worked, you will likely still enjoy this sort of hands-on activity. The little girl who spent hours teaching lessons to a makeshift classroom filled with stuffed animals, will probably thrive in a real classroom environment.
Hobbies. You enjoy your hobbies so much that you do them for free. In fact, some hobbies actually require you to fork out serious cash to partake in them; therefore, you are bound to love a job that makes use of your hobbies. If you love to tinker with cars during your free time, why not become a mechanic? Do you love to count the offerings at Church? Maybe you’d be happy in a career in banking.
What are your aptitudes and skills?
This is where you must be very careful. Aptitudes and skills are quite different. Aptitudes are the abilities that come to you naturally. For instance, some kids are musically inclined from a very young age. This would be an aptitude.
On the other hand, someone may know how to play a guitar, but they have to work hard at it. This means that they have the skill of “guitar playing,” even though it doesn’t come naturally to them. They have acquired a skill, but do not possess the natural aptitude.
Your best career fit is going to be one that allows you to use your natural abilities. Not only will this career fit be more comfortable for you, but the skills that go along with it will come more easily. The artistic child, for example, will find it much easier to learn how to water color than the child without a natural artistic bent. And the child without an aptitude for art will likely find themselves miserable in an artistic occupation after a while–even if they develop a level of skill.
In order to identify your aptitudes, think about the subjects that you excelled in at school or in extra-curricular activities.
What do you value?
It is important that your career is in line with the things you value. Here are a few important things to consider.
Social Needs. Is it important for you to be a part of a team or work alone? How much social interaction do your require to be happy? These are important considerations when selecting a career path. A people person who spends their time in isolation, balancing the books, will likely be less than satisfied with their career choice.
Balance. Are you a career-oriented person who strives to excel in their field? Or does your career come a distant second to your family and friends? If you want to have evenings and weekends off, you will need to find a career that allows for that.
Location. Some locations are more conducive to certain career choices than others. If you long to be a farmer, but live in the middle of the city, you will need to be willing to relocate. Similarly, if you have difficulty sitting still, you may find it hard to sit at a desk all day. Consider the settings that you’d most enjoy working in when selecting a career choice.
If you’re wondering what careers are growing right now, check out 5 Hot Career Choices for 2014.
And, remember, a career path need not be a life sentence. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, it’s never too late to choose another road. Life is short, but when you spend it doing a job you hate, you’ll wish it was even shorter. So love your life and choose your career wisely.
Do you love your job? Why?
Image courtesy of photos.com.
Kimberley Laws is a regular contributor to HowDoYou.com and the author of two blogs, The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss. A "Jill of all trades," she is a High School English Teacher and Certified Career Counselor with a background in makeup artistry, retail banking, and graphic design. She is also a scrapbooking, PEZ-collecting, car enthusiast who loves travelling and New York City.
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