How to Find Your Right Career

Do you ever stop to question whether or not you’re on the right career path? Since so much of our time is spent either at work, traveling to and from work, or thinking about work, it inevitably plays a huge role in our lives.
Whether you're embarking on your first career out of school or looking to make a career change, the first step is to think carefully about what really drives you.
If you don't find your work meaningful and rewarding, it's hard to generate the effort and enthusiasm necessary to advance in your job or career.
Career planning
Having to concentrate for long periods on tasks you find mundane, repetitive, or unsatisfying, you may feel burned out and frustrated, anxious, depressed, or unable to enjoy time at home knowing that another workday lies ahead. If you are not enjoying your work, do not be afraid to change your route to find the right career path.
Although you can switch careers throughout your life, finding the right one can save you time, money, and energy. To live a meaningful life filled with passion and make contributions worthy of your skills, talents, and abilities, you have to spend some time evaluating what you want out of your life and career.
Being a significant life decision, finding your right career is a powerful way to build purpose and enjoyment into your daily work.

Finding your perfect career won’t happen overnight, and it may take time to really find the right trajectory for you.
Here are the steps you can take toward discovering the career that will truly satisfy you.

Identify Your Goals and Values

Goals

"A goal is a dream with a deadline." - Napoleon Hill
Many people don’t know where they want to be in a year or five years or 20 years. After all, how will you get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going?
Long-term goals typically take about three to five years to reach, while you can usually fulfill a short-term goal in six months to three years.
An example of a long-term goal would be completing your education and training. Short-term goals include applying to college, apprenticeships, other training programs, and internships.
Try to accomplish at least one small thing a day to keep the momentum going and reach your goals.

Goals and Values

Values

Your values are what you believe in and what you think is important in life and meaningful to you.
Career values are personal principles that help define your ideal professional environment. These values typically describe the environmental and role-dependent characteristics that you find most important in fostering job satisfaction, career advancement and success.
Career values differ from person to person, as each professional typically has their own preferences in terms of work style and environment. For example, if your main value is family life you might avoid jobs that have long hours.
Simply put, your career values are what steer and drive you in your professional career. These values will help when you decide on a potential company or position for employment. 

Stay Flexible

Sometimes finding a career you love can mean experimenting with vocational pursuits that are unique or unusual to you.
A willingness to try new experiences can be a valuable way to find a career you love. If you find an opportunity that fits your goals and values, consider trying it, even if it's something you hadn't envisioned yourself doing.

Reflect and Assess

Imagine yourself in your perfect job environment, doing what you love to do. What does that look like? How does it feel? What are you doing on a day-to-day basis?
Consider the type of work you have already done, and take note of what made you feel like you were accomplishing something important.
Throughout your career search, periodically reflect on what you have learned about potential career options and how your goals may have changed. Thinking mindfully about how your thought processes evolve can help you make career choices that reflect your most important values.

Know Your Own Strengths

If you do not have any clear goals in mind, do not worry – not everyone knows what they want to do in their career. Start by thinking about your own strengths. Would you be best suited to an active, physical job, or would you rather sit at a desk in an office? Simple questions like these can help you understand which jobs might be for you.

Know Your Strengths

  Consider what you were good at as a child.

Think about activities you enjoyed when you were younger that came to you easily – they may reveal an innate talent.

  Look at the things you do in your spare time.

When you’re naturally good at something, there’s a higher chance you’ll enjoy doing it. While a successful career requires a good deal of perseverance, natural aptitude can make the road to the top much easier.
The activities you engage with voluntarily and regularly are normally things you enjoy and find energizing. In most cases, you'll also find that you're naturally good at these activities and that they engage your strengths.
Thinking about your hobbies and the activities you naturally find yourself doing is a great way to figure out your natural strengths and skills.
It is very easy to turn your hobbies or something you love doing into a future career. Many hobbies correspond to real-world needs and positions. Consider what you like to do and how that might fit into a career.

  You’re recognized for it.

If you wonder what your talents or strengths are, start paying attention to the compliments that people give you.
When you naturally do something well, it’s easy to unintentionally ignore it. Keep your ears open for compliments that you usually deflect — they may be the key to finding out what your underlying superpowers are.
People will recognize, appreciate, and comment on things you’re good at without you bringing them up.

Of course, you can be good at anything if you try hard enough or put in enough time. But you can save a lot of time and avoid frustration if you let your strengths lead you to what you should be doing instead of forcing yourself into a career that doesn’t really fit.

Take Career Assessments

Remember the career personality tests given in high school that would tell you what you should be when you grow up?
The right career assessment can actually be an incredibly useful tool in discovering your path, especially if you aren’t sure where to start.
Remember, a career assessment isn’t a shortcut; it’s a tool. It’s up to you to use it.
Questions, quizzes, and personality assessments can't tell you what your perfect career would be, but they can help you identify what's important to you in a career, what you enjoy doing, and where you excel.
What you’re good at, what companies need, and what you like to do might all be different, but it’s important to try to find the overlap between the three. That’s how you find your optimal career path.
Knowing your values, passions, and skills will help you understand what kind of career you should pursue.

Find Your Personality Type

The way you think, feel, and act defines your personality. Evaluate numerous parts of your personality when you consider your future. It might be a key role in steering you toward a specific professional goal.
The better your character traits mesh with your career, the more productive and positive your job performance will be.
For example, extroverts tend to hold jobs that involve communicating with others, such as sales or customer service.
Introverts, on the other hand, may tend toward jobs interacting with computers or technology. Misfits in these jobs – an introvert who is a salesperson, for example, or an extrovert who works in an office alone – may lead to lower performance and dissatisfaction.
It’s these inherent traits that predict your success in a role and your compatibility with others around you.
Find your personality type
Having tasks and assessments that best match both your skills and character trait boosts your confidence in your work abilities, helping you develop a more positive attitude toward your career.
Additionally, when one’s values line up with that of the company’s, they often feel a greater sense of comfort in the workplace – and a higher commitment to their role.
It is thus crucial to place as much value on character as on technical abilities when seeking new career options because a good job fit calls for far more than hard skills or interest in a subject matter.

Passion vs. Talent: Is One More Important Than The Other?

It's important to note that one cannot substitute for the other. One can be very passionate but if they do not have the talent to back the passion up, it becomes nearly impossible to execute tasks.
If a talented individual does work without any passion, it is difficult for him to sustain.
It is always important to try and find a balance between talent and passion. Both of these qualities are very important no matter what you try to achieve.
To find the best career fit, you must first assess yourself and make a list of careers you think might match your passion and talent.

Look for Clues Everywhere

Take note of projects or topics that stir your compassion or excite your imagination. Reflect on the stories of people you admire. Ask yourself why certain activities make you happy and pay attention to times when you really enjoy yourself.
While you can glean a lot of information from research and quizzes, there's no substitute for information from someone currently working in your chosen career. Talking to someone in the field gives you a real sense of the type of work you will actually be doing and if it meets your expectations.

Be Patient

Remember that your search may take some time and you might have to go down a few different roads before finding the right career path. Time and introspection will help you identify the activities you most enjoy and that bring you true satisfaction.

Be Purposeful

Life purpose is defined as having set goals and a direction for one's life. It consists of the central motivating aims of your life and it's what drives you to wake up every day. When you have a purpose in your life, you likely feel good about the way you are living your life. Without it, you'll live your life less focused, and less efficient and you'll often feel restless and stressed because you don't feel aligned with the things you do.
You might feel that there is some ultimate reason for your actions and that you are contributing to the world in some important way. This gives you a sense of satisfaction and connectedness which can help you reach higher levels of well-being.
Purpose can guide life decisions, influence behaviour, shape goals, offer a sense of direction and create meaning. For some people, the purpose is connected to vocation—meaningful, satisfying work.
For others, their purpose lies in their responsibilities to their family or friends. Others seek meaning through spirituality or religious beliefs. Some people may find their purpose clearly expressed in all these aspects of life.
Achieving goals may not help you find your purpose in life, but knowing your purpose can help you achieve your goals.
When you truly know your purpose, you’ll experience a sense of clarity like never before as you’re able to connect what you want to achieve to your ultimate fulfillment.
Behind every successful person is clarity of purpose. Identifying, acknowledging, and honoring your purpose is the foundation of a well-rounded life.
Purpose provides you with an inner compass that guides every decision and leads you to experiences that will light up your soul.

Life purpose

There are a lot of commonly known purposes in life, like:
  Providing for your family
  Living a successful life
  Making positive connections with others and enjoying those around you
  Traveling the world
  Fighting the declining condition of our planet

A personal sense of purpose is less of a specific end goal and more of an ongoing impact on the world, large or small. The purpose is your why.
Even when you have setbacks and the world turns upside down, purpose gives you stability and a sense of direction. That’s why finding purpose is essential for living a happy, healthy life.

How to find purpose in life:

People don't wake up one day and have a "eureka" moment and suddenly know what their purpose in life is. No, you have to discover your purpose by trial and error and remember that you can have more than one purpose too.
So how do you discover your purpose? Not by sitting in a chair by the window. You find it by doing things and taking action.
What's important here is that you try new things. If you haven't yet discovered your purpose in life, then you are not going to find it by trying the same things over and over again.

Find your purpose

Keep in mind your purpose doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change what you’re doing already. If you give haircuts to people, you might decide your purpose in life is to help others feel beautiful.
If you work as a school custodian, you might find your purpose is creating an environment that helps children learn.
Occasionally, you might want to pause what you’re doing and reflect on whether you feel like the path you are on is taking you in the direction you want to go. If it’s not, then you can change course. Sometimes that road to finding your purpose has a few curves, forks, and stoplights.

Here are a few ways to find your purpose:
1. Develop a growth mindset
Having a growth mindset is linked to having a sense of purpose. Constantly growing and becoming a better version of yourself helps you identify your purpose and commit to pursuing it. 
2. Create a personal vision statement
A personal vision statement can help you manage stress and find balance in your life. It also serves as a roadmap that will guide you toward your purpose by identifying your core values and establishing what’s important to you.
Few examples of personal vision (purpose) statements:
"My purpose in life is to use my writing to better the world."
"My purpose in life is to teach the parents of kids with ADHD about positive parenting."
"My purpose in life is to empower myself to empower others."
3. Give back
Giving back, or prosociality as it’s known in psychology, can enhance your sense of meaning and purpose in life. This means that when you help others, you also help yourself.
4. Practice gratitude
It's also found that cultivating gratitude can make you more generous and lead to acts of kindness, which we now know contributes to finding a sense of purpose.
5. Turn your pain into purpose
Many people ask for help when struggling to overcome a major life change. Some later find their purpose in helping others facing similar struggles to those they have overcome.
6. Explore your passions
Your passions and interests are a good indicator of the area in which your life purpose might lie. But they can be hard to identify. They’re so ingrained in our ways of thinking that we become blind to them. If you’re not sure what your passions are, ask the people who know you best. Likely, you’re already pursuing them in some way without even realizing it. Perhaps you’re an unofficial mentor to young people in your community. If so, that could be your passion.
7. Be part of a community
The purpose is about feeling connected to others, so being an active member of a community can contribute to a greater sense of purpose in life.
8. Spend time with people who inspire you
If you spend time with people who are positive and purpose-driven, they are likely to inspire you to have the same mindset. You may even discover your purpose through them.

Your purpose in life is as unique to you as your fingerprint. We all have a particular set of talents, experiences, skill sets, and interests that light us up. The purpose is related to these, and it is your reason for being.
In Japan, this idea is known as Ikigai, and it’s the concept of following your joy.

Find Your Ikigai

Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning 'reason for being'. It describes the things that make your life worthwhile; the things that give you a deep sense of purpose, satisfaction and joy.
In Japan, Ikigai is embedded in the joy of small daily actions and is why we get up in the morning. From taking a walk, to spending time in nature, to eating nourishing food, simply experiencing what you love is Ikigai.
It’s important to mention that while traditional Japanese philosophy focuses on finding your bliss, western interpretation has used Ikigai as a method of finding your dream career.
Finding purpose may not be one of your natural skills. Because of this, exploring the Ikigai diagram below is a good way to start the process of pinpointing it.

Ikigai

Start by asking yourself these four questions:
1. What do I love?
2. What am I good at?
3. What does the world need?
4. What can I be paid for?

Passion, mission, vocation, and profession all lie within the four overlapping Venn diagram circles of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. When you know these key components of life, you can find your Ikigai with precision.

Essentially:
What you love + what you’re good at = passion.
What you love + what the world needs = mission. 
What the world needs + what you can be paid for = vocation.
What you’re good at + what pays you = profession. 

The "sweet spot" is where the four circles and their intersections align evenly in the diagram.

Vocation and Profession
Your vocation can encompass all aspects of your life, while your profession is just a small part of what you do.
A profession is often described as "any occupation worthy of recognition or respect by others." This means that you work with others, take on responsibilities, and demonstrate your expertise in your field of study or practice.
A vocation, on the other hand, is something "you do out of dedication or conviction rather than for financial gain or other external pressures." It can be pursued independently and often involves working for organizations or causes you believe in.
A vocation is your calling in life. It’s what drives you every day, inspires and motivates you. It’s not just something you do because it helps you pay your bills, but something that makes you excited to get up every morning and go to work because it brings out your best self and helps other people.

One of the universal truths of life is that people always excel at what they love doing.
Think about it. If you don’t have any passion for your work or if it doesn’t make you happy, you won’t be driven. A good salary and perks can push you temporarily but eventually, you will lose interest.
People need more than a paycheck to feel driven and passionate about their work. That’s what Ikigai is about.

Find the Overlap
The concept is finding the overlap between what you love, what the world needs, what you are good at and what the world will pay for.
If you’re lucky, you might have found your Ikigai through your work. For example, a doctor hopefully believes their purpose is to help sick people or to ease suffering. Here the doctor has identified the sweet spot from what he loves, what he's good at, what people need, and what he earns. 
By knowing that your work can change the lives of others, it can help you get closer to finding your Ikigai.
Ikigai is a path, a way of life or a journey; not a destination. It gives you the motivation you need to enjoy life in the way you want to enjoy it. It is waking up with passion.
Note: Finding your Ikigai doesn’t mean you’ll love every aspect of your career. It means that you’re willing to accept even the not-so-perfect parts. This is because your career is aligned with what you love, what you’re paid for, and what the world needs. 

Multiple Ikigai

The beauty of Ikigai is that you can have more than one. A father who finds joy in going to work every day (Work) also enjoys mountain climbing during his days off (Self) while taking care of his wife and kids (Relations) is an example of a person with multiple Ikigai.
Bear in mind that Ikigai is not something grand or extraordinary, it can be as simple as taking a walk in the park on weekends or just watching the sunset.
Your Ikigai is your life purpose or your bliss. You will probably find that your purpose changes throughout your life. Continuous growth and progress can help you stay connected to your purpose.

Final Thoughts

The importance of selecting a career with which we are satisfied cannot be overemphasized. It will shape your identity, personal fulfillment, lifestyle, income, family and retirement.
Living a meaningful life contributes to better physical health and mental fitness. It also reduces the risk of chronic disease. Multiple studies have even found that it can help you live longer.
With a well-defined purpose, your Ikigai can serve as a compass to navigate both your career and life decisions and help you live a meaningful life.

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