When you are young, it often feels as though you have an eternity to decide what it is you want to do, but that decision creeps up a whole lot sooner than you might imagine. The things that we are passionate or find interesting today may not be the same a few years from now, which is why so many people seem to end up in jobs that they hate or have outgrown. There is always time to make a change, but how can you decide which career is best for you? There is no easy answer, but there are some things to think about that might make it a little easier.
The most obvious thing to do is try to find careers that match what you are truly passionate about. It’s a whole lot less likely that you will lose interest in a career that involves you doing something you love every single day. There tends to be a number of different careers that branch out from a single interest, giving you plenty of different options to choose from. For example, if you really enjoy helping other people, you could look at nursing, therapy, teaching, or perhaps working with a charitable organization.
The choice that you make from the list of available careers will then depend on a number of different factors. Firstly, you are going to have to look at the type of education required to land the job that you want. Do you already have the necessary qualifications, or are you going to have to go back to school to learn something new? This can be a deal breaker for many people, especially if they are older and not really willing to go back to college. This will actually help you narrow down your available choices.
The next thing to consider is the amount of money that you are likely to earn in your chosen career. Will it be enough money to maintain your current lifestyle, or perhaps even take you up to the level that you want? Let’s face it, it is extremely difficult having a job that you love if you cannot make enough money to pay the bills. In that situation, you will simply be swapping out one stressful situation for another, and will still end up unhappy on some level.
One thing to consider when going with a lower paying job is whether or not career advancement is a possibility. You may have to start out at a lower pay scale when first getting into a new career, but if hard work and dedication can lead to you moving up the ladder and into a higher pay grade, it might be worth it.
Another thing to consider is your schedule. If you plan to have kids, travel, or you simply want a job you can do from home, then perhaps it outweighs the pay. Having time with family or time to travel can be worth other tradeoffs.
At the end of the day, the career you choose should be one that creates a perfect balance between your happiness in the role, schedule, and your ability to make enough money to live a life that is comfortable for you and your family.
Other tips on deciding on a career:
- Volunteer at a place you think you might want to work. This gives you an inside view of what it would really be like to work there. And…if you like being there without making money, most likely the money part will be a huge perk.
- When you interview, try to plan your interview towards the end of the work day. Pay attention to if employees are rushing out the door, are they staying overtime (is this usual, is this in the job description), do they leave looking happy or burned out?
- Interview 3 people that already do the job you want. You don’t even have to know them. One of the reasons I decided to be a therapist instead of (my other choice) a lawyer is because when I called lawyers to interview them, no one ever called back. I thought to myself: “I want a job that I would have time to call people who wanted my help”. I also thought that perhaps a lawyer was so busy they don’t have time to call people back. I didn’t want to be THAT busy.