“What do you want to be when you grow-up? A fireman? A pilot? A chef?”
People start asking us that question when we are just small children, and yet for so many people it’s a question that stays with us throughout our career and one we are never sure we really know the answer to.
In the back of our heads we are asking ‘Did I make the right choice? Should I be doing something else?’
The good news is there is no such thing as one right answer. There are multiple careers suitable to each of us and new occupations emerging all the time. Even better is the news that we no longer consider our career choice ‘a direction for life’. We can, and probably will, change directions multiple times in our career.
It’s human nature when considering new careers to start by looking at our skills and then relating that to the occupations we know. The downside of this is it takes us away from the real question which is,
“How do I find a way to spend my career doing something that makes me happy and satisfied?”
Without a good understanding of what our needs are, and what contributes to us feeling satisfied and fulfilled, we are essentially selecting a career path blindfolded.
When assessing potential career directions a better question may be: “What am I good at and enjoy doing? How can I find out who can use these skills?”
This is not to say that there is a fantasy ‘all-perfect’ occupation waiting out there for you that will enable you to be consistently happy and satisfied. The perfect career is a myth and career exploration needs to be balanced with reality but a solid understanding of our own personal career motivators and strengths enables us to better make decisions that move us in positive directions.
If you are contemplating a career change start by asking yourself the following:
- What are my career values? What is important for me in a role?
- What are my motivating strengths: i.e. what do I do well that I also really enjoy doing?
- What types of career activities make time fly and leave me feeling energized?
- What would a dream day look like to me?
- These are not quick questions, and often the help of a good career coach can make this process easier to navigate and will enable you to really get to the heart of these and other key self-reflection topics.
When you’ve got a good picture of what factors contribute to you feeling satisfied the next stage is to get curious! This is the time to uncover and read about all the careers that you didn’t even know existed. You’ll be surprised how many there are. There are new careers emerging every year and old career paths that have been reshaped into completely different animals. Don’t limit yourself by what you think you already know. Read voraciously, Google search, talk to people, watch videos, follow career and industry experts until you find options that suit you and excite you.
When you see options, find out what it involves; analyse the prosects of the role in the future, the realities of its pay, its requirements, travel expectations, and the good, the bad and the ugly of a day in the life of someone in the job.
Time spent now exploring potential careers can make all the difference between moving to a job you tolerate or to doing something you love. Good luck!