It doesn’t matter if you’re in your early 20’s or late 50’s, whenever it’s time to choose a career path you will run into many difficulties. These are challenges to be taken in your stride because for the most part, the battles will be fought internally. The broad question is what do you want to be? The questions that dangle from this are, for how long, what’s your pay grade expectation, would you be willing to move, and are you willing to climb up the ladder slowly to name a few.
These are all things that will affect the rest of your life or at least, for the foreseeable future. So taking things seriously means you need to give yourself time to think. Slow down, step back from your situation and carefully consider what you want to do. Once you go down a path, you have to put all your effort into it, you have to make it your passion and give your career your undivided attention. You’ll also be wise to consider the financial implications as well as the career satisfaction. Here are some ways to go about doing this in an orderly manner.
Interest Vs. Good At
There was once upon time where it didn’t matter what you liked or wanted to do, the overall goal was to earn the most money. That kind of think is old hat and in the long run, your happiness will suffer despite however many zeros you have at the end of your paycheck. If you’re having trouble deciding what kind of career path to choose, ask yourself what is your main interest? Maybe you have a background in business, but don’t really want to start up your own business. Perhaps you don’t want to be a run of the mill employee just looking to apply what you have learned for the sake of it.
Be specific. What about the business world interests you the most? Maybe it’s being at the heart of how companies finance their every move. Maybe you want to do with people instead of figures, in which case marketing is an option. The trouble for many people is, they have for so long focussed on what they’re good at rather than what they are most interested in. You might be good at accounting but want to play more of a role in design. It’s time to consider changing your career to your interest. If you have the passion for a specific role or type of work, then the money will eventually come anyway since you can rise to the top.
Things Vs. People
Career paths are subject to how our minds work. An engineer’s mind is more interested in things than in people. For example, an engineer would much rather try to figure out how to design a bridge that spans over 100 feet long than try to figure out what is causing someone stress in their life. So, in this respect we are all more in one camp than in the other. This doesn’t mean you’re not capable of thinking in the opposite way but your career should be determined by your character as well as your interests. Temperament is also another trait to consider as you need patience when working with people as individuals and their personalities are complex. Logic can be used in both people and non-people focussed careers. They are however applied differently.
Take for example nursing. You are using your skills to work with medicine and be accurate with your dosages and treatments. Yet you’re also working with people who have fears, doubts and want to know more about the care you are giving them. Working with families you can develop relationships to better understand each patient and their personalities. If you are thinking of becoming a family nurse practitioner consider the online resources you have at your fingertips. The online courses at Carson-Newman University are something to keep high up on your list. They have multiple nursing programs and courses which you can take and learn about the profession right at home. These courses earn you degrees which can be used in the real world just like any other.
Money Vs. Fulfillment
Ask yourself honestly, will an extra zero really make you happier? It can if that’s what you really want. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a role that purely pays well but doesn’t give you much satisfaction. Work isn’t absolutely everything and in fact many people have their passionate hobbies outside of work these days. However, if you want do something that will give you gratification and fulfillment, then you may need to settle for not earning as much as the next person walking the street. Consider a new career that you are first excited about, and your experiences are all new and fun. Eventually, you might get bored and yearn for something else. The money might be good but do you really feel as if you are impacting the world around you?
Money is very important. The salary you earn funds your lifestyle. However, can you connect money to your mood and still avoid the risks of work depression and lack of connection with your work? Pick a career that you can see yourself doing for at least the next 5 years. It’s better in fact to plan for the next decade. This will give your life more stability and you can really focus and try to get better at your skills for the role of your desire. Be prepared to accept that you won’t get paid your desired salary but your job fulfillment and attitude will increase. Less stress at work will also be a net positive you can have.
Deciding on your career can be very difficult. You have to way up the options of what your interests are and what you are good at. But the conflict of working with people or with things is also just as challenging. Problem solving needs to be done in both categories but they are done in very different ways. Then you need to consider if money is your main goal or job satisfaction.
*This article was contributed.