Growing up, many people feel certain of what job they’d like to have when they’re older. As time goes on, however, they sometimes become less sure of themselves and may start to change their mind. Many go into college declaring their major as ‘undecided’ and have little idea as to what they’d like to devote their energy to. Others don’t go to college at all because they either don’t see a need for it or don’t know what they want to do, among other reasons. It’s wise to take the time to figure out what careers would suit you best instead of jumping into something for reasons that won’t keep you happy in the long run. Although it’s never too late to switch career paths, it can save you a lot of heartache to carefully consider your options. Uncovering the right career path for you takes some time but will be worth it when you end up in a field that you truly enjoy.
Identify your interests, passions, and skills
Discovering which career path would be best for you starts with knowing yourself. The right career will involve those things you’re passionate about, good at, and genuinely interested in. For example, if you love working with your hands and being in an outdoor environment, you want to consider careers that meet these conditions. Though not impossible, it’s not likely an office job spent working on the computer would bring you as much joy as something else more tailored to your interests. If you’re not sure what you’re passionate about, begin the process of figuring it out. It is possible to have more than one passion. Start by identifying which topics you always like learning more about and which areas you never seem to get tired of talking about. Take note of what you’re doing and who you’re around when you feel your best and be honest with yourself about what makes you happy. If there’s something you’ve always been good at, like being creative, look for careers that let you make the most of your talent.
Consider your personality
You know yourself better than anyone, meaning that you also know which types of environments will make you the happiest. You are the most equipped to recognize your strengths and weaknesses both in and out of the workplace. While it’s true that anyone can find contentment in any given career, you should at least aim to pursue those that seem to be a good fit for you. For example, you may lean toward extraversion rather than introversion, value working in teams, and care more about the big picture than the small details. Each of these personality traits matter in a career. If you know you like working with people, look at jobs that involve lots of teamwork and push aside those that require you to work alone. If being in the spotlight makes you anxious, choose a career where you can work more behind the scenes. Although you shouldn’t let perceived weaknesses or fears stop you from going after your dreams, it is good to be realistic and know what to expect.
Assess your wants and needs
Every career will provide something different; you just need to decide which rewards are most important and which downsides are worth it. Perhaps it’s your dream to make enough money to live in a certain area or maintain a specific quality of life. While salary shouldn’t be the primary reason you choose a career, it’s still something to consider. Maybe you’re very family-oriented and want a career that lets you have three-day weekends or a lot of paid vacation time. You might not like driving and want a short commute or prefer to work strictly from home. Don’t forget that your wants and needs matter as you choose a career path.
Make a list of careers that interest you
Once you’ve taken some time to think about your passions, strengths, weaknesses, and personality, it’s time to start compiling a list of potential career options. Write down or type out a solid list, and then start doing your research. It can be helpful to find people in those careers and ask them questions, such as if they like their job and what their day-to-day looks like. The more information you can compile, the better, especially if comes from people in those roles because they have the best, most up-to-date knowledge. Throughout this process, ask lots of questions and start crossing off careers when you realize they aren’t likely a good match for you.
When in doubt, take the first step
You can spend (and waste) a lot of valuable time procrastinating, overthinking, and worrying about making the right decision. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take that first step and let whatever follows happen naturally. A first step could mean creating a resume, applying for a certain job, taking a class, or networking with others. Along the way, you’ll quickly find out if you’re headed down the right path. If you never give something a chance, you’ll never know if it could have worked out and been enjoyable. Even if you end up learning that a career you were excited about isn’t the right choice for you, at least you’ll be closer to what is meant for you.
As you explore your different career options, pay attention to how you feel. The right career will leave you with a sense of peace and purpose. This isn’t to say that there won’t be obstacles or difficulties as you reach for your dreams, but it does mean that you will want to persevere despite these challenges. Remember that a career isn’t set in stone, and you can always change your mind. Stay determined during your search but be careful not to put too much pressure on yourself. With the right mindset and determination, there’s no doubt you’ll end up on a career path you can be proud of.