Finding Your Ideal Career Path

by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Money Columnist

Published in Money and Finance on 5th February, 2019

So many people are trapped in jobs that leave them feeling unfulfilled. Yet not everyone is sure about what direction they should be going in. What job is best? Is there a way to turn a hobby or passion into something that can bring in legitimate income?

Here, we're going to explore what you can do to find your ideal career path. Through thinking about your life and asking yourself the questions here, you'll be able to gather an ideal direction.

finding the perfect career

Read on, and learn how to decide on the ideal career for you!

Consider Your Life, As It Is

It's a good idea to start by thinking about where you are currently, especially if you're not sure what direction you should go in. The way you think and feel about your current position, what you do in your free time and the things you feel passionately about can really help to guide you.

Often, we tend to have a limited view of the career possibilities out there. We might think of things like fireman, astronaut, actor or musician, but are you thinking about the spaces in between? The variety of careers out there is much larger than we realize!

Your Current Job

Start by thinking about your current job. What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it? Try to be specific, as these things can help you to start figuring out what kind of job would be best for you. For example, if you like handling customers then that's worth taking note of. If you don't, then you might want to consider a job that is more behind-the-scenes.

Creating a list of these pros and cons is a great way to start getting an idea of the ideal working situation for you, so make sure it's thorough!

Your Free Time

Another aspect to think about is your free time, including what you like to do with it. Some can find that their job isn't the most important aspect to them. They're perfectly comfortable with finding something stable, which allows them to do what they want with their free time.

If stability is your largest concern, that's something to think about while you choose your path. In other cases, some prefer to fill their work time with something they are passionate about. Think about which applies to you more. Naturally, most of us want a combination of both, but some careers are less stable than others.

Your Passions

Next, it's time to think about your passions. Nothing is off limits here. It might be a passion for creating something whether that's art, music, crocheted items, woodwork or anything else you might decide to make. This could also be a value that is important to you, or a cause that you care deeply for.

These causes could include animal or human rights, gender equality, and much more. Whatever applies to you is something that is worth considering. You may find a career that involves your passions is much more fulfilling than standard jobs.

Keep Your Mind Open

As previously mentioned, there are so many different jobs out there. You may find that you start out with one specific interest and later find that you end up doing something slightly different. It's a good idea to keep an open mind and really look into opportunities that are presented to you.

Keep in mind that you don't have to take each opportunity. What's most important to take away here is to look at them objectively and consider whether or not they may be good choices for you. Don't just shoo them away if they aren't exactly what you had in mind.

Questions To Ask Yourself

Not everyone knows where to start when it comes to thinking about the career that is ideal for you. Asking yourself some of these questions can make it easier to brainstorm what you're looking for in a career. They'll also help you to think about what you want that job to look like.

That might mean the hours you're willing to work, how much you want to earn and much more. As you're looking at these questions, think about what would improve your life and what you could do for the long term. Take note of anything that seems especially important!

What Type Of Schedule Is Best For You?

While it may not be the most exciting aspect to think about, considering the schedule you work is important for your work-life balance. Would you prefer to work part-time or full-time? Do you want a regular 9-to-5 schedule, or something a little more flexible?

what schedule is best

Furthermore, it's worth thinking about whether or not you want paid time off. If you're interested in self-employment, then keep in mind that there isn't paid time off for that situation. Instead, you'll have to save up money to cover the time spent not working. In addition, self-employment can be less stable overall.

What Are Your Earning Goals?

How much would you ideally want to earn? Realistically, how much would be enough to cover your living expenses and allow for saving? What is the minimum amount you'd be willing to work for? Understanding the answers to these questions can be very important.

If you're looking to move into a career very different from your current job, it's worth considering that you may end up earning less while you gain experience. It's also a good idea to see what the earning potential is for careers that interest you, to give you an idea of the possibilities out there.

Do You Prefer To Work With Others, Or Alone?

Are you annoyed by coworkers or do you enjoy their presence? Do you feel more comfortable in a team? This is something that is going to be entirely unique to you. There's nothing wrong with either situation, so be honest with yourself about it!

From there, you can consider positions that connect with the amount of socialization you want. There are options out there with a whole range! You may also want to think about the socialization levels you want that involve customers or potential customers. It can also help to consider the ideal versus jobs with acceptable levels of socialization.

Do You Want To Travel?

For some, a career that includes travel is everything they could possibly dream of. Do you want a career that requires you to travel often, or do you prefer to stay at home? Keep in mind that with travel comes the costs of hotels, airfare, food in the places you visit and more.

Because of that, you'll need to either be compensated very well to cover those costs, or work with a company that covers many of those expenses for you. You'll also typically have to pair the travel with your actual work, which might be writing, photography or something else.

Who Is Most Important To You?

This is a question that not everyone thinks about asking themselves. In most jobs, you are serving someone. That might be a patient, customer, client, employer, or even the animals for those who work for a veterinary clinic, shelter or for the ASPCA.

what is the most important thing to you

Employees can also serve employers or other businesses. Some positions serve multiple levels of people! Consider who is most important to you to serve. What do you want your purpose to be, and where your value is placed. This is something that is entirely based on your thoughts and feelings, and it can really help to guide you down your perfect path.

Finding Meaning In Your Work

Think about getting up in the morning and getting ready for work. Imagine how you feel. Do you struggle to find the motivation to get out of bed? Are you frequently asking yourself whether or not you could afford to take another day off?

Now think about getting up in the morning and going to a job that gives you some kind of purpose. Maybe you create, maybe you protect or save lives, or maybe you just really enjoy the work you do! Look for something that will make it easier to get up in the morning and get to work.

Why Do You Want To Do It?

The question of why is one that can help you find the purpose in any given career you may be interested in. Why does it interest you? Do you want to help, entertain, or provide guidance? There are so many answers to this question that your answer is going to be unique to you.

Like many of the answers to questions here, there is no right answer. Be honest with yourself, and use your answer to help you with finding all the career options that can allow you to accomplish that same thing. There are a plethora of ways to entertain or help people!

Can You Handle The Downsides?

While a dream job can be an incredible experience, it doesn't mean that it will be a perfect one. The best jobs on Earth are still jobs, meaning that there are boring, annoying or tedious aspects of them that you'll have to take alongside the joyful experiences.

Take some time to look into the downsides of the careers that interest you, and consider whether or not they are things you could handle. We all have our breaking points, and the more research you do on all aspects of a potential career, the more prepared you will be to deal with all aspects of it.

Putting It In Action

Once you've gathered some ideas about careers that might be suited to you, it's time to start putting together a plan. This will include selecting a career direction to go in and figuring out what you need to do in order to become qualified for the job, if you aren't already.

plan your work

You'll want to know what your overall plan is, but try to focus the most on the early steps. That way, you can avoid overwhelming yourself and instead take on the tasks one at a time as you work your way there.

What Will You Need To Get There?

The answer to this might vary pretty largely. In a few cases, you may already have what you need and just have to start looking for open positions in the career you want. However, in most cases there is usually some preparation you need to do in order to become qualified.

This might include schooling or experience. The career might require a degree or certificate, or you may need to get some practice under your belt in order to achieve higher level positions in the industry. Think about what you need, and you can start formulating a plan to get those things.

How Will You Get What You Need?

Once you know what you need, it's time to start thinking about how to get there. If schooling is required, and you aren't already in school, then look into your options. Try to find colleges that offer the degree you need, and gather information on the prices of attending. Then seek out financial aid if you need to.

If what you need is experience, then you'll likely need to start doing whatever it is you want to, so that you can get your name out there. Paint, animate, draw, write, whatever it is you do. Get it out into the world so that you can build a portfolio that shows what you're capable of.

When Can You Start?

Finally, you'll need to decide how soon you're going to get started on your path. It's natural that it might take some time if you need schooling, though it's a good idea to get started on that process as soon as possible.

However, if it's just a matter of doing your passion to build up experience and a portfolio, then the sooner the better! Even if you create without making money, you're still creating things that you can use to show potential clients or customers what you have to offer.

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