When it comes to choosing your career if I were a betting man I would say in 90% of cases it looks very different from what it was when you were 5 or 6. We don’t tend to ‘choose’ a career path but merely fall into one. For me, as a child, I wanted to be a soldier. I was fascinated with the wide array of vehicles and weapons not to mention the prospect of even becoming a spy like James Bond! Shaken not stirred…
However, when reality came knocking my chosen profession couldn’t have been further from what I had wanted to be as a child. I was lucky in the sense that I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do. A loosely concocted plan of going to university, achieve a degree and join the family business to hone my skills in developing the company and its processes.
Within 6 months of completing my business degree and starting my first job, the 2008 recession hit and hit hard. For a young businessman with little experience, it was a tough knock.
What I quickly discovered was the importance of being passionate about what you do. Being in a job that you don’t enjoy in an industry experiencing a recession quickly wakes you up to the fact that you may not have made the right decision and can result in demotivation and job dissatisfaction.
In this article, I will try to provide you with a few steps which I hope may help you decide on a career path.
Number 1: List all of your key skills and strengths
The best way to start is a bit of self-reflection and no better way to start then with a good old list. Start by listing all the things you feel are key skills and strengths. This could be your organizational skills or your punctuality. You may be very good with numbers or a bit of a networker in a social situation. All of these things are important to list however minuscule.
Going one step further for perspective ask friends and family what they think your key skills and strengths are. They may highlight traits that you previously overlooked. I want to say that whilst this list is a good starting point do NOT let it limit you. Just because you may not be a great public speaker doesn’t mean that in time you won’t become one. This is purely a springboard to your next step.
Number 2: What are your interests and passions?
What do you enjoy doing? Are you an outdoors person, do you enjoy traveling or have a real passion for music? What is important to note is that your passions and interests can become your career. Work doesn’t have to be boring and mundane. It can be exciting and challenging. Working in a career that links with your passions will not only motivate you to achieve your best but carries a better chance of being a long-term career.
Number 3: How do you want to be remembered?
Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Stephen Hawkins, Margert Thatcher are all people we would say we know and for different reasons. When they started their early careers, did they have visions of how they wanted to be remembered or where they wanted to take their careers too?
Take some time to think about what you want to achieve. This maybe a little difficult to picture at first but give it some time and thought. Being able to visualise where you see yourself in 5,10,20, 50 years’ time can help you determine what career path you take. It will also help steer you away from certain jobs you may have considered previously. For example, you like the idea of doing something physical. Take into account that as you age this sort of career will become more challenging, so the life span of a job like this maybe shorter-lived than that of a more conventional job role. This isn’t to say that these career paths are not attractive but always take the time to look at future outcomes and possibilities.
Number 4: Don’t follow the norm, do what is right for you
This can be a tough card to play. If you come from a family of doctors or you’re a 5thgeneration butcher. Maybe there is an expectation for you to follow suit? Maybe all your friends want to work in a bank or think it’s important to have an office job. None of this matters. What works for others doesn’t mean it will work for you.
A lot of the world’s most successful people didn’t get to where they are now by following what others did. They achieved greatness by going against the trend and doing what was right for them by pushing the norms and moving away from the status quo. The same can be said for you. It’s important you do something that is right for you. If you're happy in what you do you have a better chance of succeeding.
Number 5: Pairing your skills with potential industries or jobs.
Researching into an industry or job of potential interest will quickly reveal if it is in line with your skillset, interests or passions. List down the careers of interest and then research into each in more detail. Look at things like; qualifications required, costs associated, working hours, location, travel. Once you start drilling down into the details of a career you may find yourself becoming more drawn to a particular field or put off after first impressions. Take the time to talk with companies in the industry and find out if they themselves offer training or graduate schemes. The more you know about a potential job and its industry the better prepared you are. It means that you increase the odds of selecting a career right for you.
It is important to note that a potential career path may not align with your current skill set however this doesn’t mean you can’t develop into the role. For example, if you wanted to become a pilot it is only natural that you would be lacking the skills, in the beginning, to fly a plane however with time, investment and drive you could quite quickly find yourself achieving your dream.
Choosing your career path is not an exact science. You may jump around a little before you find your ideal job and even then, this will come with its highs and its lows. The important thing is to love what you do, be passionate about how you do it and why.
You wouldn’t buy a new car without researching and test driving it so don’t do it when you come to deciding on a career choice. Take your time and look at your options. This way you will increase the chance of future-proofing your path and maybe, just maybe achieving greatness…