In a competitive environment, career decisions are often considered as one of the most important decisions. However, we know that not everyone's career is smooth sailing. In fact, most of us go through stages of growth, challenges, turbulence, and discovery before we finally arrive at the right destination. Often this process is long and painful, and through this arduous process, we may have missed several boats on the way to success!
A few things that are useful to consider at crossroads in our career decisions:
What is your passion?
Things such as your hobbies, interests, things that you enjoy doing, or things that you like, can be potential clues showing where your passion lies. Activities that you enjoy and that give you a certain sense of satisfaction and accomplishments are usually good indicators for your career direction.
What do you value as a reward?
The Reward system is an important factor while deciding on a career, and different people usually value rewards differently. Start by asking yourself what is rewarding to you? Money, prestige, recognition, lifestyle, health, fame are all rewards.
Be pragmatic and realistic
Nothing beats old fashioned pragmatism and realism. When deciding which career path to choose, you need to make sure that it is pragmatic and realistic. There is no point in getting a job that you enjoy but in which you are unable to sustain a livelihood. Ultimately, a career or a job is a way to sustain a living; so take into consideration realistic and pragmatic factors such as (1) supply and demand for a profession, (2) monetary compensation, and (3) your expected standard of living.
Find out your strengths and weaknesses.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will give you insights about what resources you have and which areas in your life you need to improve on. In addition, this information will help you identify which career is suitable for you and whether you have the qualities that are required for the job.
Know your personality.
Personality plays a huge role in an individual's career success. Having expert technical skills does get you the job. But if a person wants to excel in his/her career, personality matters. It will determine how well you get along with your bosses, colleagues, clients, and other relevant people.
As with personality type, having a healthy level of emotional intelligence is a must for good career progression. Working well in teams and having good relationships with your colleagues are as important as having sound technical skills. Not everyone is born with high emotional intelligence. However, the good news is, emotional intelligence can be learned and developed. So those who know that they are low on emotional intelligence, fret not, because you can change things around by seeking the right help.
Take a psychological test.
Psychological testing for personality type, emotional intelligence, career profiling, competencies, and aptitudes are often overlooked. However, these tests can give you valuable insights into otherwise undisclosed/undiscovered areas in your life and personality. These are useful tools that can help you save time and opportunity costs while attempting to decide on a career choice.
Do some research on possible careers and their characteristics.
Knowing yourself is the beginning. Now you need to find out what the jobs that you have in mind are like. Online research on career descriptions can be helpful in giving you an idea of what the characteristics of the job are.
Talk to professionals in the field.
Opinions and advice from professionals who are already in the field is a great way to get information about a specific career. An understanding of the nature of the job and insights on the expectations for a specific job constitute valuable knowledge while assessing your potential career choices. Career fairs and job internships are effective means to start getting industry-related information and experience.
Get career advice
The quickest way to address career concerns is to get help. Like any therapist or consultant, career advisors can help you gain insights about your strengths, weaknesses, personality, and make recommendations on a career that you will find rewarding.