One of the toughest decisions students and young professionals make is choosing an ideal career path. Finding that perfect career can be an exhausting battle of reality versus passion. It all takes time, research, planning and self-introspection. It’s important to assess what you are attracted to, what your life goals are and how you can be successful based on your unique skills, strengths—and even weaknesses.
Here are five steps how to make a well-informed decision:
Honestly face the not-so-great aspects of your work ethic, personality or level of experience. Identifying and assessing your skills can help you determine which you want to acquire and those you already have that need more work and development. Just as you’d keep benchmarks of success, take a look at the failures as well. It’s a good idea to get candid insight from a mentor, supervisor or industry peer or even take assessment tests to determine what you’re great at and where you could improve.
Re-examine what interests you. What are your hobbies? What types of jobs or careers have duties that appeal to you? Learning about your interests will help you identify opportunities to pursue and topics you are most naturally drawn to, making work more motivating, enjoyable, purposeful and prosperous. This can change throughout your life, so be sure to do this on a periodical basis whether it’s every year, five years or 10 years.
Determine your professional values. Values greatly influence the career decision-making process, professional goals and job satisfaction. Examples of values include: desire to help others, aspiration for wealth, boss inclinations, or connection to a social cause. Prioritize what’s important when it comes to your values and stick to focusing on them based on the level of priority.
Cut off any signs of woe-is-me or defeat. Remember that your search for a purposeful or fulfilling career may take some time and you might have to go down a few different roads before finding the right path. Time and self-discovery will help you identify the activities you most enjoy and that bring you true satisfaction. You may be great at one thing and a total blunder at another. That’s fine. Just learn the lesson, stay positive and move on.
Get to work on improving areas you may be weak in. Hey, maybe you aren’t the best singer right now. Get a coach. Maybe your dream is to be president one day, but you’re the shyest, least known graduate in your class. Take some public speaking courses, join some service organizations and get to networking. You’d love to work in finance but not so great with math? Get more training, get a tutor or find a new program tailored to your learning style. Or better yet, find other career in the industry that could benefit from the strong skills you do have.