4 Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Career Path
"What is the right career for me?" How often have you asked yourself that question? Or heard someone else ask it? I know that if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, I’d be rich.
In fact, I’ve asked myself that question many times over the course of my life. When I was younger, I wanted to be an astronaut. Then a marine biologist. Then a business lady (because I absolutely loved the idea of wearing high heels to work, which still makes me laugh to this day). Around the time college selection was underway, my desire was to be an art teacher. By college graduation, I had earned a degree in both Fine Art and Business, with a goal to pursue an advertising career. Finally, fast-forward another eighteen years and here I am, departed from advertising to a career of leadership coaching and empowering my clients.
My guess is that many of you reading this article have felt the same way, with a shift here and a try-that there. So, how do you know what the right career choice is for you?
Beyond taking a career aptitude test or quiz from Buzzfeed -- which I’d say won’t actually answer the question for you -- it’s important to know what your purpose is in life, what your passions are, what your gifts are and what keeps you motivated.
Most people confuse purpose and passion, but purpose is the philosophical idea of why you are on this earth, what you are here for and what you are intended to do.
A less-overwhelming way to look at this is to ask yourself what your “who” is. Your “who” is essentially what drives you, defines you as a person and makes you tick.
My “who” is being a supporter. Nothing makes me happier or gives me more fulfillment than supporting someone else, however they need it.
Passion takes the idea of purpose one step further. Essentially, it's what gets your juices flowing. What excites you? What gets your heart beating fast? What are you willing to sacrifice for?
On my end, I love seeing women be successful in their careers, as well as watching them continue to rise up in the ranks around the globe.
What skills, experiences and unique offerings do you have or want to have? What can you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually offer to the world around you?
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I am gifted in being able to see themes and break down information in a way that it can be used to tell a compelling story. I see people’s gifts, strengths and offerings (sometimes before they do) through my abilities of being a great listener, having strong empathy and intuition and being able to translate ideas and themes into simple, sticky messages that resonate.
What keeps you going, even when times are tough? What keeps your internal “lights on?" People tend to be promotion- or prevention-focused when it comes to motivation -- meaning you are either goal-oriented and motivated to reach new heights (promotion) or interested in security and protecting the things you’ve worked hard to get (prevention).
Promotion people are typically fast-paced, and they like a challenging or changing environment and trying new things to grow and evolve. Prevention people are more analytical and like to know the details before taking action, in order to avoid potential risk. They also take great pride in the quality of their work and recognition of their expertise. No one is completely one way or the other, but knowing what your main motivation is can be extremely helpful when considering careers.
My motivation is the idea of taking on new challenges and solving new problems. Learning and trying new things is highly motivating to me, making me primarily a “promotion-motivated” person.
Once you know the answers to these four questions for yourself, you can really start to define (or redefine) what your career path looks like. The combination of these questions pointed me down the path of being a leadership and career coach. My heart sings when I support people by helping them to become successful and building their confidence to get that next job, get promoted, become a stronger leader or run a business. And because every human in the world is unique and different, my promotion motivation goes on and on to support every client’s needs.
Adding it up for you
Choosing a career, changing careers or even contemplating trying new things can be equal parts scary and exciting. The fact that we work or are focused on careers for the vast majority of our lives only compounds our fear and enthusiasm. Give yourself time to really reflect on these questions. Make lists, ask your friends, family and peers for their thoughts, and research opportunities to open your mind to your potential.
(By Tami Chapek. Chapek is a professional coach and highly-skilled marketer with a passion for building strong female leaders and brands, with a focus on career and leadership development support.)