If you want to know how to pick a career path, you have to be able to consider the right things and make the right calls. Although most career decisions are never easy to make, consistently overriding your needs, wants, and aspirations can be problematic in the long run.
Whether your aim is to feel more fulfilled or to earn more, it’s important that you pick a career path that you resonate with.
The ideal, of course, is that everyone’s doing what they love to do and earning enough in the process, but we all know life doesn’t really work that way. Instead of making a halfhearted, random approach, there are a few approaches you can use to make deciding a bit easier for you. Read on to know more.
Don’t Just Be Rational
You’ve probably heard your share of the timeworn advice “be practical” when it comes to matters of livelihood.
However, there’s a flaw in this suggestion. Often, people think they’re doing you a favor by pointing you toward the established path. Maybe they think it makes more sense or maybe they’re just genuinely concerned about your welfare.
But the best advice should be able to reflect your inner wants and needs. So if an advice to you doesn’t have that, then it’s safe to say you’re better off keeping your own counsel.
Since how people see themselves is how they see the world, most advice given by anyone would be typically colored by his or her perspective. This rings true with any advice (even mine) so take into consideration how much of the other person’s input resonates with your own worldview.
I mean, would it make sense to get career advice from a financial manager if you plan on pursuing arts full-time? I think not. The financial manager, of course, would tell you to take a job that’s more financially viable in the long run.
Being rational is not just about making decisions that make the best sense, but also one that recognizes the context of the situation and your interest as well.
One of the reasons we were given a heart and mind is to use them both to make decisions that feel fair to us. Any option that leaves out one or the other usually leads to some kind of unrest—either personally or professionally.
See Risks as Opportunities
How you see risks has an effect on business and work outcomes.
One example is how men and women see risks differently. In the study, 80% of women stated that they regard things that other would classify as risks to be opportunities while only 67% of men thought the same.
This could be the reason why female-owned companies out-survive those owned by men in many industries as well as in large cities. Female business owners also have a much lower failure rate compared to male-owned businesses. And although 62% of male entrepreneurs in the study claimed that they’re businesses are doing well compared to just 42% of women, the ones owned by the latter group actually had a higher profit rate before taking taxes into account.
What this tells us is that our perception affects our actions. If you want to learn to be more adept at managing risks, you have to be open to all the good possibilities it can bring you.
Don’t Let the Fear of Failure Influence Your Choices
Your belief in yourself should trump your fear of failure.
Data has revealed that men are still twice as likely to start new businesses than women and that females were also less likely to become entrepreneurs.
This study sheds light on why this could be so. When women fail to reach their funding goal, they believed that they’re not cut out for entrepreneurship and proceed to quit thereafter. Male entrepreneurs, on the other hand, almost always tried again.
This is probably why females only comprise 28.8% of business owners in U.S. as reported by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research.
The key takeaway here is to not let failure get the best of you.
Even if you failed once, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll fail again.
In business, it’s important to know when to cut your losses, but you also have to balance this with an attitude of persistence. Don’t just quit the first time you lost. If you’re at a loss when to persevere and when to acknowledge that things are starting to get futile, you’ll only know the answer if you don’t quit at the first sign of failure.
Think Outside The Box
Your career path is not a one-way street. There’s no single, right procedure to doing things. Matter of fact, career decisions are not procedural—they’re contextual and this is why innovative thinking matters. A lot.
But before you can think outside the box, you have to know first what’s inside the box.
What are the things that satisfy you? What kind of work can afford you the life you want to live? These are just some of the questions that can help you think of different career alternatives you can pursue.
Whatever course you decide on, know that different career paths offer an exceptional reward as long as you follow it with passion and commitment. It’s just that each direction requires distinct approaches and skills to be successful.
If you plan on making an unorthodox career move, you must have the confidence to follow through with it even if others may not understand or appreciate the decision you’ve made.
Thinking outside the box is about making connections with what you currently know and what you want to discover. It’s about seeing the opportunities in the unknown. It might probably also mean having a difficult time describing to others what you do or what you want to do.
Should you take it, the less traveled path offers a variety of purposeful challenges that might just lead you to the best career decision you could probably make.
Make Things Happen
One of my favorite adages is by Nora Roberts. In her widely acclaimed quote, she says that “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
It struck a chord me because I used to be the kind of person who likes to wish. A lot.
Of course, wishing could only get you so far and at the end of the day, if you really desire to have a fulfilling career, you need to be able to do something—anything that can get you closer to the goal that you want.
The truth of the matter is, wanting something to happen so bad isn’t enough to actualize it. Don’t wait for luck or for opportunities and create them yourself.
This is known as being proactive. Research has shown that proactive individuals had higher levels of self-efficacy and higher levels of self-efficacy means being able to behave in a way that leads to the attainment of your goals. The more proactive you are, the higher the effort you put into your work.
This is why the only way to obtain the things you’ve always wanted means taking the daily steps necessary to make progress possible.
The effort and actions you’ve put in might seem small at the moment, but in the bigger scheme of things, it’s what makes your path to a more fulfilled career a possible, reachable goal.
Listen to Your Inner Voice
Most people have two inner voices—the negative one and the one who says the truth about what you want
It’s obvious who you should listen to.
Sometimes, people aren’t always able to recognize their own talents and desires. But your inner voice never forgets. Even if you manage to do a wholly different thing, your inner voice will always be there. Persuasively gnawing at your thoughts and feelings until it finally leads you to the thing you were really meant to do.
The only thing you have to do in order to aid your inner voice is to muster your confidence and take a chance to realize the message it’s telling you. Being bold has brought a lot of people good fortune (not just the material kind, mind you), not because they brashly enforced what they want, but they dared to be courageous enough to offer their value and vowed to get the same in return.
For some people who choose to ignore their inner voice, they often pay a steep price. Such is the case with a Korean woman I read on the news a few years back.
How Ignoring Your Voice Can Backfire For You
In Korea, respect and family play a big part in their culture to the point that parents have a say on virtually all major life decisions of their kids such as who to marry and what job to take. The woman in the story wanted to be a singer, but her extremely conservative parents wanted her to either be a doctor or lawyer—regarded as prestigious jobs of Korea’s older generation.
Unbeknown to them, she had been training for years with a music company alongside her med studies. A few years into her training, her parents got wind of her secret and made her choose—pursue your musical training and be disowned or drop it and retain her place in the family.
Like any dutiful daughter would do, she picked the latter choice. A few years after, the girl band she was supposed to join debuted and enjoyed a successful run.
Not long after, she was also in the news. Dead from an apparent suicide after having jumped 12 floors to the ground. She was 22. It was thought that she couldn’t handle the regret of having missed the opportunity to pursue her lifetime dream.
What Being Fulfilled Means
Being fulfilled isn’t just about the money. Having money is always well and good, but the end of the day, it’s hard to feel proud of your work when you feel like you’re in the wrong job with the wrong people.
Sometimes, the only way to feel fulfilled is to practice dignity.
Dignity is being true to your gifts. Dignity is making the right choice so you can live a quality life you’ve always yearned for.
Do you feel like your career decisions are fulfilling you as a person? Why or why not? Feel free to share in the comment section below.
Also published on Medium.