9 Steps for Deciding on a Career
Often times when people talk about raising children you hear people say, “There is no owners manual that came with this child”. I think we should broaden the saying to “We didn’t come with an owners manual on managing our life”.
For the more obvious things like managing a home and relationships, we can observe our parents and a few others for examples of what to do or to avoid.
Unfortunately, for one of the bigger decisions we make in our life – that being what career to pursue – we are on our own. The parents didn’t talk much about career choices and we also didn’t hear that much on our path through life.
If there were 1 common approach that people use for this seriously important choice it would be that most people use job search to “find something”. It’s like describing a mushroom hunt. You don’t know exactly where to look, you don’t know what you will find and whether or not what you find will kill you if you eat it.
Let me lay out the bottom-line on this: You will spend more time working than any other thing you will do in your life, other than sleep. If you relegate this decision to “finding something” you will become part of the 60—70% of workers who hate what they do for a living.
Seriously, is that what you had in mind for your life?
If I’ve got your attention, let me offer up a process to help facilitate you in making a career choice. Notice I didn’t say find a job.
Stay open-minded, as all you are trying to do is to understand yourself and what works for you as it relates to occupations. This is a brainstorm so anything you think of works. The idea with this is to come up as many occupations that look at all interesting to you. Don’t get caught up in thinking about pay or qualifications. You simply want to think about what sounds interesting and then figure out what is it about the occupation that sounds good. You might think being a floral designer sounds fun because you enjoy creating and artistry.
Make a list of both things so you have a clear idea. Don’t add in environmental things like you didn’t like your boss or the long drive. You can look at those things when you launch your job search. You want to look entirely at the work you do or have done.
From the work you did on #2, take the things you enjoyed and create a new job using only the things from the list. You can put them together in different combinations to stimulate your thinking. You can take just one thing and make that an entire job. Here’s an example from my background: as a manager, I coached people, I took that and turned it into my current profession. Previously, I did project management as part of my job and I took that and made it my entire job at one point.
This isn’t my favorite or first task I would suggest. The reason is that people often are disappointed by what the output of an assessment is rather than to use it as one piece to an entire puzzle. Don’t expect a clear answer because we are too complicated for an assessment to tell us exactly what to do. I would also suggest taking the assessment and ask a career professional to work with you to help process your results. You can learn loads and be given some career suggestions that have potential.
You’d be shocked at how the people who know you best see you in ways you don’t. Sit down with these people individually to ask them what type of profession could they see you doing. They may see potential in you that you take for granted.
While you have your friends and family with you, take them through your “like” list and do step #3. The power of having more brains on this endeavor the better. We get too tunnel visioned sometimes and having other people cook up jobs based on your “like” list can turn up some interesting ideas.
You now have a lot of ideas and insight about you. You now need to roll up your sleeves and do some research. Take all the information you’ve gathered and turn it into an occupation. A great place to start is: https://www.onetonline.org/ You can search for occupations using your various lists and then learn a wealth of information to help you decide if the occupation works for you.
So far, all of this is a theory. You need to confirm or make your decision by speaking to people who do the occupations of most interest to you. You should be fairly close to a decision but speaking to people doing the work will help you confirm by getting a first-hand account of the good and bad of the job. All occupations have the good parts and bad. You can’t avoid that but what you can avoid is going into an occupation where the bad is too big for you.
As a result of these steps, you now have a good idea about qualifications. You need to now make a plan to get you fully qualified and competitive so you can pursue your career effectively. This may entail schooling, certifications or skill attainment.
The most important characteristic you need to have is patience. I have seen too many people give up and head back to “finding something”. Be patient with yourself and the process. If it were that easy to figure out a great occupation, you would already know. Your future self will thank you for doing this work.
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Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – dedicated to unleash your professional potential.