It doesn’t matter whether you are a student or a working adult, this one question always comes to your mind, “What is the right career path for me?” When you are in school, you don’t know what you want to make a career in as an adult. When you actually are working, you’re still not sure if this is what you want to do your entire life.
If you already have the answer to this question, then you probably don’t need this article, and you’re the object of envy of 90% of the people out there, the ones who are paying the closest attention right now.
Not everyone is lucky enough to hit the jackpot when it comes to finding what you love best and excel in. Most people just go through the necessary motions- go to school, choose a random field for their majors in college, then do a 9 am-to-5 pm corporate job and earn some money. The highest amount of satisfaction in these people’s lives is when they get an unexpected promotion at the office.
Everyone in this world (except terrorists) has the right to do what they want to, and be happy in their life. You don’t have to be stuck doing a job you don’t like just because you need money. I mean, everyone needs money, but you don’t have to be unhappy earning that money. You don’t want to have any “I wish I had”s to say on your deathbed, do you? After all, in Kahlil Gibran’s words, “To be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction, is to live twice”.
I have compiled a list of tips to help you figure out what the correct career path for you is. Follow them, and hopefully, you will become one of those 10 % people, who do not need this article:
1. Participate and engage
Stop being lazy, and take part in lots of extracurricular activities. If you are a student, join all the clubs in your school or college that interest you, and engage in a lot of activities. If you are a working adult, then you may not have as much freedom as a student, but you can always join clubs or classes that are held over the weekend, or maybe take up an online course. There are so many things you can do- dancing, martial arts, coding, graphic designing, writing, photography. Make good use of your free time and engage in myriad activities to find the one you are truly passionate about.
2. Think about your most unwavering interests
When we grow up, we don’t just grow up physically, but also mentally and emotionally. In the course of our lifetime, we accumulate a long list of interests, some that were short-lived, and some that have stood the test of time. The latter ones are the interests we are talking about here. Think about a hobby that has always stuck with you no matter how many habits and interests you may have acquired. Think of something that has always brought you pleasure, something that you really, truly like. It could be as simple a thing as cooking or photography. Think, and think hard. If you are having trouble thinking of something like that, then here’s a tip- take a pen and paper and jot down all the things that you have done in your free time ever since you were born. Now from that list, highlight five things that you have done the most frequently. List the five things down, and ponder upon them. The answer lies in that list of five.
3. Think about what you want your life to look like
Think about where you want to see yourself in 10 years and jot it down on a new paper. No, do not think in terms of where you will be working or in what field, because that’s the question you are seeking the answer to. Think in terms of your lifestyle, the kind of home you want to live in, the kind of life you want, the kind of people you want to be around and so on. Make a note of all those things. Now think of your list of five and think of which out of these can help you achieve the life you want. If one of the options fit, then explore it further. If none of them do, then browse the bigger list of hobbies that you discarded again.
4. Consult a lot of people
Yes, consult as many people as you can. Go to career fairs, talk to people you respect and like, talk to your friends and get lots of second, third, fourth (and so on) opinions. The more you talk and interact with people, the more insight and knowledge you will get about the career you want to pursue, and about other careers that you can consider. Go with your 5 option list and make sure you cover every option on it. Don’t just talk to the people you know. Use platforms like LinkedIn and Tumblr to get in touch with people who are currently working in the fields of your interest and talk to them. Don’t just talk to them, grill them about everything- the pros and cons, the related careers, workload, growth rate; everything you can think of. Don’t be shy of asking lots of questions, people will be more than happy to help you and even pleased with your enthusiasm and your genuine curiosity.
5. Don’t freak out
Now, consultations and getting second opinions is all fine, but you can get quite overwhelmed and you may just want to give up the whole idea and go with the flow. So keep a broad mind and respect everyone’s opinions, but only pay heed to the ones that suit your requirements. Every career path has its pros and cons and many a time the cons will scare you into striking that path off your list. DON’T DO THAT. Instead, think whether you will be able to cope with it, and how those cons are better than the disadvantages of your current field. Another pro tip to deal with it- when you feel overwhelmed, take out the two papers you wrote on and consult them both. Look at the five options, look at where you see yourself in 10 years, and then think about all the advice and opinions you’ve been given. Trust me, you’ll find it easier to reach a decision.
6. Practice makes perfect
Now that you have a rough idea of what you want to do, you’re ready to go to the next level. No, we aren’t done yet. Just because you’ve figured out what your piece of cake is doesn’t mean you can start eating it just yet. We are gonna do some more inspection first. What I mean is, you need to actually hone your skills a little more, and with a little more dedication towards the work. For example, if you love yoga and you have decided that you want to be a yoga instructor, try volunteering to be an assistant instructor in some yoga class, or maybe do a little side business and organise a free yoga workshop of your own in your school or home. Then see if you actually are capable of doing the job and if you like it. While doing it, think, “Can I do this for the rest of my life without getting bored?” If you hesitate, then repeat the exercise with the same job a few more times till you can say a definite yes or no. Similarly, if you want to be a coder, make a few projects without assistance and then see what it feels like. If you feel satisfied, this is your cup of tea, if you aren’t, re-evaluate.
7. Don’t make hasty decisions
Whatever you intend to do, think it through as many times as you can, from all angles and perspectives. Your own perspectives that is. Do NOT be hasty; you can’t afford to take risks with your own life. If you are a student, don’t suddenly drop out of college or something rash like that. If you’re a working adult, don’t quit your job just yet. Plan everything step by step so that you can transition smoothly from what you are doing to what you want to do. Remember the 3 Ps- Patience, Perseverance and Persistence. These three words will help you through every dilemma and every obstacle. Just hang on to these and you shall never be stuck.
Remember, no career is actually good or bad. It all depends on how you look at it. However, for you to excel, it is very important that you are happy doing whatever it is that you are doing or aspire to do. Today there are a hundred odd jobs out there that you can do if all you want is to earn money. But happiness is extremely important. This realisation doesn’t come soon enough, but when you’ve been doing the same job for a few years and you’re never really satisfied, you will remember how you had the chance to do something you would’ve been happy doing, and you also had the perfect article to help you do so, but you didn’t.
Your career is as big a part of your life as your family and friends. So don’t neglect it or overlook it, do what it takes to make your life the way you want it to be.