The Career Not Taken – How to choose which direction to take your career

Most people undergo a career change or two over their lifetime. Finding the right career for you can help to make your working years more pleasant and rewarding. If you’re going to spend 40+ hours each week doing something, it would be nice if you enjoyed it.
You might think that all jobs are for the birds. However, the path to freedom requires a source of income. Find one that pleases you.

Choose a career that meets your needs:

1.) How much money would you like to make?

If you’re dead set on making $150,000 or more each year, becoming a high school math teacher doesn’t make much sense. There are plenty of websites with salary data. Use them and ensure you’re playing in the right ballpark. Here are some of the top used websites for gathering salary data. 

2.) What else do you need?

What type of working hours fit your family and lifestyle?

  • Do you have small children?
  • Does your partner work and how much?

  • Do you need a job that’s low-stress or do you prefer a career with more drama?

What are your long-term career plans? Do you want to rise to the top, or are you content to stay in the same job for the next couple of decades?

3.) What do you naturally like?

  • Are you a fan of science?
  • Do you like working with people?
  • Do you like to sell?
  • Would you rather sit in front of a computer all day by yourself?
A job that fits your natural likes and inclinations makes sense.

4.) What do you naturally dislike?

Avoid choosing a particular career just because it pays well or allows you to take the summers off.

No amount of money or vacation time is worth doing something you can’t stand.
  • Be smart, of course! If you can’t afford to feed your family by doing the thing you’re passionate about then you’d better not bet your economic life on it! A basic principle concerning how you should deal with an unknown future is that every small smart step you take should leave you alive to take the next step. 

5.) What were your dreams as a child?

Think about what you wanted to be when you were young. It’s likely your ideal career is something related to those earlier dreams.
  • Most people have exciting dreams as a child, yet end up working in an office environment they find unenjoyable. Return to your childhood and see what you find.
  • Here’s a fun little quiz where if you fill in information about your childhood dream job it will tell you what adult job would be perfect for you.

6.) Consider previous positions you’ve held.

Just as previous partners can provide clues to what you might want in a future partner, your past jobs can be hints toward the type of career you want or don’t want.
  • You love talking to people, but don’t love talking at them. 
  • You love working in an office, but don’t love being in front of a computer all day.
  • You love being creative, but don’t love using logical reasoning. 
Experiences you gained in the past will change what your ideal job is today. Just take a moment and think about what you loved or didn’t love. 

7.) Consider alternate solutions in an industry you love.

If you’re 60 and dream of going to medical school, it’s probably too late to get started now. However, you can find something just as good! Medical school might be out of reach, but if you take a look at the main points that you like about being a doctor it can help you find something else, for example:
  • Helps people. There are plenty of other careers that provide the opportunity to help people that wouldn’t take as long to complete.  A Certified Medical Assistant can take between 9 months to 3 years or a paramedic which can take about 8 months to 2 years to complete. 
  • High salary. Many careers pay better than a doctor, especially after eight years of hard effort. However, you won’t find any in the medical field that would pay higher than a doctor without the years of education and internship so you would need to look at entering another field of work.  An article in Business Insider, mentions 9 jobs where you make more money than a doctor and don’t need a degree. Check it out here.
  • Challenge. There are a lot of different avenues you can take to feel challenged. Start a charity. Write a bestseller. Work with inner city children. Start a successful business. There are many other careers that offer a challenge if that’s what you love.
  • If your career choice isn’t feasible, ask yourself why you wanted that career and find a substitute that meets those needs.
Choosing the best career is important. You’ll spend many of your waking hours at work, so ensure that you’re getting the most out of it.Life is long and hard when you hate your job.

Finding the right career can be a daunting task, but it can be accomplished, whether you choose to do it on your own or hire a career coach. Take the time to put your career on a path that you’ll find enjoyable and rewarding. 

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