June 3, 2021
How to choose the right career?
We’ve all been there. Choosing the right career move can be a daunting experience not only for young people but also established professionals.
We’ve all been there. Choosing the right career move can be a daunting experience not only for young people but also established professionals. So many people find themselves in their job saying “I fell into this industry” and not know where to go or how to change your situation.
When deciding on a career path there are two key things you need to remember. First, your career is yours, no one else’s. People are so quick to hand out advice on what you should do or what job you should go for or course you should study. You need to stay true to yourself and also be comfortable with career changes that will happen throughout your life.
Second, you can’t discover or understand opportunities and industries by just sitting still and scrolling on the internet at home. Yes, that is a part of the research but the real magic is through connection and being proactive with this. This means going out and talking to people, engaging with industry news or resources, completing self-discovery activities or engaging in a coach or mentor to help you navigate and be a sounding board on your decisions.
This is what career choices are- A series of complex decision making that will get easier with time.. So let’s explore some of the key areas you need to consider when choosing the right career path.
Personality & Interests
Our interests play a crucial role in deciding on what direction we may want to pursue. Choosing something that aligns with these will naturally spark curiosity, the magic ingredient. This happens when you feel like something is easy to learn or understand as you are naturally curious about a topic. Think about the areas that you naturally spend a lot of time on, this can mean physically or mentally. Are there challenges or issues that you constantly think about?
Below are some great questions to help you understand what your core interests are:
- What do I find myself thinking about?
- What do I enjoy doing in my spare time?
- If money and status did not exist what would I do with my time?
- What has brought me joy in the past? When and where did this occur?
- What do I constantly avoid?
- What makes me frustrated? When and where did this occur?
These questions are a great guiding force in your professional and personal life.. I always advise my clients to keep a journal on these areas when completing a career transition so we can use them in discussion points further down the process.
Aside from interests, personality can play just as important a role as some people naturally find certain areas and environments more interesting than others. A common problem for many people is that the work environment does not suit their personality. The classic example is an introvert finding themselves managing large groups of people and having to be involved in large social circles in their job, over time they find this naturally exhausting and often experience burnout. Similarly with extroverts, the work environment plays a huge role where not having much interaction for them can be draining…
To gain more of an understanding of your own personality, try a personality test! There are many free ones online or paid options as well. Or speak to your partner or best friend, no doubt they will have a-lot to say 😉
Strengths & Natural Skills
Once we understand the areas that spark our interest and the alignments with our personalities, it is now time to explore our strengths, technical skills and natural ability. Any role requires significant skills and ability. In this day and age we know that skills and mindsets are incredibly transferable and a part of adapting to the new world of work is being able to relearn and unlearn certain practices and material.
When choosing the right career, important consideration needs to take place on what your natural ability is. Do you appreciate numbers and statistics and can process these quickly? Are you naturally geared towards STEM? Or are you able to work with people and pick up on emotional cues, manage people’s emotions and motivate them to stay on task? Perhaps you’re a blend of both, however, most of us have a few key focus points with our natural ability and can pick up skills quickly and effectively in that natural focus area.
But natural skill can only bring you so far. You also need to consider your technical knowledge. What areas did you train in? Did you develop a specific way of thinking that is valuable to your transition? Have you completed any extracurricular activities that have enabled you to develop further abilities?
When we are able to align your natural skills and knowledge with your role, quite often these areas bring you energy. You feel like you can work forever and are not counting down the hours. Compared to when you are using skills that you find difficult, your energy stores are depleted quickly and it takes more energy to regenerate them.
To further understand your strengths and natural skills you can complete an assessment like the Morrisby or complete reflections activities to further develop your awareness. Asking yourself questions like:
- When did I last feel energised in my career?
- What was I doing?
- How was I working?
- Where was I working?
- What tasks in my day to day do I find easy?
- What tasks in my day to day do I find hard?
- When did I feel like work was like play?
Lifestyle / Commitment
With every job there is a level of commitment that takes place for the cause, this obviously has an effect on your lifestyle to some degree. Some roles and professions are more lifestyle careers than your standard 9-5.
The big question for anyone when deciding on a career path is determining if the role or project enhances your lifestyle or draws away from what you want your lifestyle to be. Some individuals thrive on the notion of having 40+ hour weeks because they thrive in work environments where there is a large time commitment. Others prefer a flexible option which enables them to pick and choose when they work and for how long.
With COVID impacting the way we work, many individuals have had a taste of remote working and the benefits and challenges that this brings. Some people loved the idea of working from home while others preferred the opportunity to go back into the office or a blend. For many people, they were able to plug back into new hobbies or lifestyle choices like living further out of the city which has had a positive impact on themselves and their family. When deciding on these areas, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- What are the three most important things in your lifestyle? Eg. Small commute, living close to family, living closer to nature, public transport access, flexible working hours.
Once you have identified these, use them as anchor points in your decision making.
- What type of future are you working towards?
A hard question to answer but an important one to reflect on. Many people will just keep working, taking promotions and sometimes forget what they are truly working towards. Keep this question in your mind, even if you don’t know the specific answer just yet. It’s a great reflection piece.
- What have been the positives and negatives of my current role on my lifestyle?
Determining what you have enjoyed and not enjoyed through your own experience will also act as a marker for what is important moving forward. For example, your last job may have meant frequent travel and you would prefer not to do this anymore.
Once you’ve got a vague idea of what your ideal career entails, the best way to find out if a certain career path is aligned with your wants is to simply ask. Talking to people in the field or in a role that is similar is vital before making a call on the role. Ask questions that will give you the best understanding of the commitment:
- What does a good day look like?
- What does a bad day look like?
- How much travel do you need to do?
- What does the continuous study load look like? How do you manage this?
By asking the right questions, you gain significant insight into yourself and the industries you are interested in. . However, if you make the move and the role or industry does not meet the expectations that you have, be comfortable with continuing your search, because the people who hold themselves to the highest standards will find what they are looking for.