Choosing Careers: How to Choose a Career that is Right for You

Need help deciding what career to choose? You’re not alone. Choosing careers can seem overwhelming — an immensely important choice with more options than ever. If you are wondering how to choose a career, read on for some great career advice.

You Can Be Anything You Want to Be When You Grow Up!

boy astronaut

If you were lucky enough to hear those words as a child, you likely had big dreams. What were yours? Astronaut? Veterinarian? NBA player? Rock star?

Somewhere along the way, most people end up choosing careers without too much thought. Perhaps your first job evolved into something bigger. Or you thought long and hard about how to make the most money and diligently pursued that career until you found that it was a little less than you had imagined.

The economic shake-out has led many to reconsider their career. Whether you’re just starting out or choosing careers the second (or third or fourth) time around, we hope this article will be of value to you.

Choosing the right career for you takes time, effort, perseverance — and a methodical approach. Take the time to go through the process, most people don’t! In fact, many people spend more time deliberating over their first car than they do for a career. While a car choice may last 5-10 years, a career can potentially last a lifetime!

How to Choose a Career That is Right For You

  • Identify what you love to do.

    The first step in choosing the right career is finding out what you love to do. Make a list of the things you enjoy most – the things you love to do such as sports, video games, make up or designing web pages. You might also want to list things that you are passionate about, such as cancer awareness, politics or animal rights. Perhaps you love working in a team? Or maybe you prefer working alone.Why is this step important? There are many different careers and situations that can provide the essence of what you love. If you start by defining these things, you’ll have the first filter to think through the many different careers that are right for you. It is the first step in choosing a career.
  • Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.

    Identifying your interests is the first step; identifying your natural strengths is the second. If you were good at math in school then list that as a strength; if you struggled with English then list that as a weakness. Are you a good leader or a fantastic organizer? Do you prefer to work with people, things or ideas? These are great things to list as well. List anything you can think of; getting it down on paper can really help you to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and so that you can take these things into account when choosing a career.
  • Identify your goals and personal preferences.

    Next, list the specific goals you have for your career. This will help narrow your search even more. For instance, how much money you would like to make? If you love graphic design, but want to make $100,000 a year, then you may want to consider a different profession. Most graphic designers just don’t make that kind of money (unless they start their own business, of course, so make note of that as well!).
    Be realistic when setting the salary that you want to makes. After all, money will not make you happy if you despise your job! Ultimately, most people find that it is better to love what you do and get paid a reasonable amount for it, than despise the work you do and make millions!Take into consideration where you want to live. If you want to stay in your home town, analyze the opportunities that are available in the area that you live. If you want to travel, consider career in sales, the travel industry or even the armed forces. If you know what you want to do and would be willing to move anywhere to do it, that focuses the decision about choosing careers in a different direction.
  • Consider educational requirements.

    If you are in high school or will be graduating soon, choose a college that offers programs in the career field that you choose. If you have completed your education and are looking for a career change, consider whether you might need additional training in the field that are interested in. If you don’t want to further your education, that is valid too. Take all these things into consideration when choosing careers.
  • Enlist Help for an Outside Perspective and Career Advice

    Once you have all of these things down on paper, then look over everything and analyze it. You may even have a couple of friends or family members look at it as well. Then, step outside yourself for a moment. What would you recommend that this person would do if it wasn’t you? What would your friends and family recommend?
    At this point in the process of choosing careers, a little direction can be extremely helpful. If you are still in high school, talk to your guidance counselor about possible career choices. Most colleges have career workshops. These will allow you to get an outsiders perspective and step out of your comfort zone a little bit.This is a great time to take a career test to gain a broader perspective of your interests and aptitudes, and the careers that match. We are proud to offer a few career tests on this site, click here for details.Some people prefer the one-on-one attention of working with a career or life coach. Click here for a nice overview of career and life coaching
  • Visualize Your Ideal Career

    Begin to visualize the ideal career for you. You don’t need to have all the answers at this point, just begin to piece together ideas you have gathered of things that you enjoy, are good at and that provide the lifestyle that you want. It does not have to be realistic in your visualization, the most important part is that you’re starting to create what is ideal for you.
    Many people find that it is helpful to use guided visualizations for this sort of process. Audio programs like these take the guesswork about what to visualize as it guides you through a process to create what you want, step by step. Visualization harnesses the power of your mind and the creative process at its best.I highly recommend a 30 minute guided visualization by Hypnosis Downloads called Choosing a Career. Don’t let the word “hypnosis” throw you for a loop; this is a straightforward process that helps you get into a relaxed state of mind to create your ideal career. There are no hidden messages, just guided visualization and positive messages that you listen to while in a relaxed state. It’s just $12.95 and comes with a full money-back guarantee. Use it throughout the process of choosing careers so that you’re engaging yourself at all levels to create exactly what you want.
  • Research Possible Career Options

    As you start to get close to choosing careers and have a general direction or even a few possible career choices, research them. Most career tests have a way to start research on specific careers. You can also use tools such as the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Handbook, which you can find at any library. These tools are great for analyzing what jobs are available and finding the median income for potential careers.
    Consider doing job shadowing or informational interviews to find out as much as you can about the day to day life in a specific job. Call around to professionals and tell them that you are interested in doing what they do as a career. Ask them if you could interview them, or better yet job shadow them for a day! Sometimes people find that the career that they think they want isn’t really what they want at all. For instance you might decide that they want to be a pediatrician, because you love kids, but come to find out through a little research, that pediatricians deal with stressed out mothers more than they deal with children!
  • Commit and Move Forward

    This may be the toughest step of all when choosing careers. Commit to a direction and get moving. Identify a step or two that you can take this week to move a little closer to choosing careers.
    Remember, when choosing careers you are never really locked into a career forever. As long as you are beginning down a path that is interesting to you, you will be able to adjust and evolve your career over time.

Choosing careers can be a lengthy process. It is not a decision to take lightly. Carefully think about what it is that you want to do with your life. Make sure you take all the aspects of your chosen career into consideration. Make sure that it is what you really want to do!

Once you have made a decision take the first steps to beginning that career, whether it is furthering your education or putting your resume out there. Remember to be persistent. If you stay focused on your goal and never give up you will succeed.

Good luck!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy these:

Finding a Career: Choosing a Career Path that is Right for You
Career Change Advice: 10 Steps to Get You Started Down a New Path
Get Career Direction with Career Tests