This post isn’t necessarily just for kids or young people. Many of us experience a desire for a career change later in life. Perhaps, our preferences changed, or maybe we made a career choice without realizing just how unsatisfying we’d find the daily grind once in it. Either way, it’s a big step, and getting it right will involve some serious contemplation and heaps of information you won’t necessarily be able to pull out of the hat without doing a little homework first.
Use these tips to find a career or business direction that will be satisfying to the unique person that is you while still taking care of your future and being realistic:
1. Do a Myers-Briggs Personality Test
Your personality is inextricably entwined with what you’ll like doing and the way you’d do it. While we think we may know ourselves, we may be biassed by what others think we ought to like, or we might think we’ll like something that we very definitely won’t. How can we untangle our perceptions from reality? A good personality test will do just that. A company I worked for actually administered the Myers-Briggs test to employees before restructuring – just to see which roles we’d feel most comfortable in and what we’d find most motivating and rewarding. So, why not do it yourself?
Need an example? The test, which will classify your personality into one of 16 board personality types (don’t worry, you’re still unique) can be spookily accurate – and it specifically looks into the career directions you might find most rewarding. Get the most out of it by being brutally honest in responding to the simple questions it asks. You’ll get some great pointers.
For example, if you’re rated as an ENTJ personality type, you’ll be at your best when making tough decisions, analyzing complex situations, or competing with your peers. Now, you can look for careers that will offer tons of situations that allow you to do just that.
2. Find Someone Who Will Allow You to be Their Shadow
Supposing that you think you already know what you’ll like to do, it’s a good idea to find out whether the reality matches your expectations. The best way to do this is to “shadow” a person who already does the job you’re thinking of training for. What’s a day in his or her life like? Will you like doing that even if your shadowing experience throws up some surprises? What did your mentor have to do in order to reach the position you think you want for yourself? Nothing beats finding out first hand.
While you might feel shy about asking to follow a person’s workday, you may be surprised to find out that most people are helpful and eager to give you a taste of what they do so that you’ll make the right decision. They’ll also be very honest about what it takes to succeed, the pitfalls that may lie in store, and the up and downsides of what they do. Get the inside information!
3. Consider Costs, Benefits, Drawbacks, and Future Prospects
Embarking on a new career will have its costs, and they won’t necessarily be in money terms alone. Carefully consider the costs of a potential career and whether you’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices to get where you want to be in it. For example, if you choose to be a doctor, you will need to undertake costly and lengthy studies. And, at the end of that, you’ll still only be a junior. You can also expect to work irregular hours – and often very long ones. Will the rewards outweigh the sacrifices you must make to reach the point you want to strive for?
Future prospects are also to be taken into account. Some jobs are done more for love than for money. Fine if you can afford it, but a bad choice if you can’t. Will you have cause for regret about your choices in a decade or two? Be realistic when you’re following that star. Will you be able to find a good job in that field? Will you be able to retire in comfort? These are relaties nobody can afford to overlook.
4. An Obvious Choice? First Look at the Less-Obvious
Some career choices may seem like no-brainer, “yes or no” choices to you, even after having gone through the first steps we’ve recommended here. But in any field, there are less obvious but related variants that may even suit you better.
Maybe you’d love a medical career but can’t afford the med school costs. Once again, related medical careers might offer what you’re looking for. OK, so you aren’t going to be a doctor, but whatever happens, you’ll be involved in a field that you love. Whatever your choice, don’t let money be the deciding issue unless you’re likely to run into bread-and-butter issues like providing for yourself, your family, and your future. There are so many options out there that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t find one you’ll love.