Choosing a career path
Creating a meaningful career is one of the most consequential pursuits in life. Our capacity for career success is often the measure by which we evaluate all of our success, and our sense of happiness often hinges on finding career fulfillment. Whether you’re in the process of launching a new career or changing your current profession, you deserve to find a path that fits your interests, goals and personality. Now is your chance to get to know yourself so that choosing a career path comes naturally. Understanding how to choose a career centers around viewing your profession as an expression of your passions. Get back to yourself – what drives you, your working style and leadership style – and you’ll create the rewarding career of your dreams.
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Keys to choosing a career path
Research demonstrates that career identity impacts job contentment. Career identity – the degree to which an individual has a clear sense of his or her career path – impacts how he or she defines professional fulfillment. Individuals with clear career plans tend to prioritize their fit with the job’s tasks, whereas individuals with unclear career plans prioritize fitting into the job’s culture. This dichotomy makes sense, since having clarity of purpose dictates the skills you would want to develop in any given role. If you don’t have clarity of purpose, it’s less important where the skills you’re building take you, so culture fit takes priority.
What can we learn from this data to clarify how to choose a career? In order to find your niche in the professional world, you must focus on your professional identity before trying to identify suitable careers. Rather than view your motivations, interests and competencies as anomalies separate from your career, work to create a structure of meaning between them. In connecting your aptitudes and interests with relevant roles, you’re able to build a beautiful career from your passion, mission and skills.
How to choose a career
Choosing a career path is an empowering process. You have everything you need within you to discover your dream career. To build a toolbox for growing your career, write down the passions and gifts you bring to the table. You’ll find that understanding how to choose a career boils down to leveraging your unique traits and talents.
Choosing a career path is a different ballgame from selecting a job. A job may meet a number of short-term needs, including income, direction, networking and skill development. Having a job also implies work – a duty-driven task replete with meaning that saps your enthusiasm. A career is mission-driven, connects to your passions, meets your short-term needs and provides genuine fulfillment.
Value your gift
When you are trying to build your career, it’s easy to become distracted or discouraged by your weaknesses. The reality is that all of us have weaknesses, and it’s your strengths that are your gift to the business world. Understanding your gift is the secret to contentment, so ask yourself: What is my gift? Are you an artist? A manager? An entrepreneur? Your business identity, including the skills and attitudes that drive your decisions, distinguishes you as a professional. By recognizing and leveraging your natural assets, you’re able to make the most of your talents in choosing a career path.
Understand your working style
Working with others has its challenges, and dealing with the interpersonal dynamics inherent to group work can be exhausting. As tempting as it is to believe that people can overcome their personalities to perform robotically at work, the truth is that personality does influence your interpersonal style at work.
When it comes to understanding how to choose a career, take the time to understand your working style. Do you prefer to work independently, in proximity to others or in cooperation with a team? When you understand yourself, you’re able to see where you fit into the larger framework of your organization. Self-awareness also breeds empathy, which fosters effective communication. With practice and commitment, you can learn to utilize personality differences to enhance collaboration.
Don’t give up
Career transitions – creating a new career or transition from an old one – are among the most challenging adaptations in life. Initially, you will likely experience an internal conflict between the need to fulfill your passions and the need to pay your bills. Anxiety is a natural output of that tension, and you’ll be tempted to cling to the familiar to avoid fear of the unknown. Rather than being sidelined by fears and any social pressures, consider your uncertainty as a doorway to enlightenment. Brainstorm on your passions until you hit gold. Your career path is right in front of you, so take a deep breath and relax. If you get stuck, stick to your interests and pursue outside information to find increasing clarity on choosing a career path. There are many routes to professional happiness, so don’t settle for anything less than phenomenal.
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