Choosing your career can be one of the most stressful decisions that anyone is to make in their lives. This is a decision that you will have to live with for a long time. Even though it’s becoming more common for people to switch careers once or twice in their lives it is still one of those major life choices. You will have to spend a lot of time to make sure that you get it right.
The easiest way to break down your career choice is to think of the choice as the overlap of three different major factors. These three different factors all affect your aptitude in something, your interest in something, and the available opportunity. This means you should ideally want to do something, be good at doing that and be able to make a living doing that job.
The first important factor to look at is your interest in something. Start with this one because it is often the first thing that people think about when choosing a career. If you are interested in something you are bound to perform better in it and be happier doing it.
Sometimes people feel that they have multiple interests and it’s hard to decide which one of these interests to follow as a career path.
Consider these when thinking about your interests:
- What would you do even if you weren’t paid to do that?
- What books do you read and what videos do you watch?
- Is there anything that you spend a lot of time on even without anybody encouraging you to do so?
- Do you have any hobbies that you would love to do for the rest of your life?
Read as much as you can about careers you might be interested in. Look at websites like bluecollarbrain.com and see if anything looks interesting and don’t forget to do your research well.
And when it comes to aptitude you need to think about what you are good at. Think about the things that you can do better than the average person. Everybody has some talents and attitudes for specific things. It is important to align what you’re good at with your interests as it is not only beneficial to be interested in something but it will be an immense help if you are also good at it.
One way of figuring out what you’re good at is to ask people who know you very well. Another way to find out what you’re good at is to try many different things when you’re still younger. Your performance and results in things like hobbies, sports, and academics will also give you a good indication of what you’re good at. Often you also enjoy things that you are good at as you are rewarded for good performance.
For the last factor, you need to be realistic about the future. Often when it comes to our interests and our aptitude we can dream big and think that anything is possible. This might be true in some cases but it is also a good idea to look at the opportunities available.
The reason we also look at opportunities is that it is often the case that our interests and talents are broader than just one single topic. As an example, your interest might be in designing new things. You might also have a real talent for design and creative thinking. One option would be to look at something like car design. But what happens if you love living in small towns and you don’t want to move to the big city? There is no opportunity.
It is going to be hard to be a car designer if you can’t live in a big city where all the big automotive manufacturers are located. But because your interests and aptitudes are broader and wider than just this one topic you could also look at something like architecture. Studying architecture and becoming an architect might allow you to live in a smaller town and still have a great career designing new things and being creative.
The above example illustrates that we should consider this third factor in-depth and not only look at our interests and talents. You should really sit down and realistically consider your opportunities and what is available in the job market. Some careers and jobs go through peaks and valleys where there might be an oversupply or a real need for more people in that industry at any given time. Be a little bit flexible and realistic about your career opportunities and make sure that you pick the correct career for you.
It is worth noting that a lot of people end up in related but not exactly the career path that they would have mapped out for themselves before starting. It is common for people to start off doing the job that they studied for and then move into related fields like management, sales, marketing, or something that’s still in their field but not exactly what they studied. The path will change as you walk down it, just make sure you get a good start on the way there.