It might be easy for some people to know what they truly want, or what career they should be getting themselves into. This can challenging for some people. To make it easier, here are four questions you want to ask yourself to help determine what kind of career you want.
What am I good at and what do I love to do?
The first question, and probably the most obvious one, to ask is “What am I good at?” Then again, there should always be a follow up question, which is usually “what do I love to do?”
You’ve probably heard the “follow your passion” line since the day you were born – and it’s mostly because the foundation of choosing your career is choosing what you love to do.
Here’s the big challenge: some have a clear passion, while most people find themselves lost in the passion puzzle, a state of paralysis brought on by the fear of never finding it. Even if you do have a passion, the chances are high it’s something vague and out of reach, like becoming the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.
The answer lies in something else though. It isn’t the idea of pursuing things you’re good at and that you love. It’s that your aspirations are too broad and difficult to act on. It might be time to start thinking of your passions as a starting point.
If you want to be the next Steve Jobs, for example, focus first on entrepreneurship and product development. Start from the roots, and only then can you follow up with the next steps such as establishing a skills inventory to determine just what else you bring to the table. This is very important, because this one thing that can separate you from the others.
In reality, you might not reach your first goal, but you might find yourself in a better spot than you imagined if you end up understanding yourself better. There are other examples, like becoming the next J.K. Rowling. For that, it’s important to lay the foundation and then branch out from there.
Maybe you discover you’re good at providing feedback and coaching other writers, and becoming a writing teacher or tutor might be right for you. Maybe you like digging into a subject, synthesizing a ton of research and guiding editorial direction. Becoming a technical writer or editor might be a better fit.
Your skills inventory could take the form of a checklist, a mock resume, or interviews with friends, family members, mentors, and former employers who can give you an outside perspective.
Is my focus promotion or prevention?
It is proven that feeling motivated is an essential aspect of job satisfaction. However, the causes for motivation vary widely from person to person. It could actually be broken down into two main motivation types: promotion-focused and prevention-focused.
Promotion-focused professionals are classic creatives and entrepreneurs. They work quickly, seize new opportunities and think abstractly. The downside is that they can be impulsive, overly optimistic, and prone to making big mistakes.
On the other hand, prevention-focused professionals are just the opposite. They are focused on maintaining the status quo and protecting all they’ve worked on. These professionals prefer planning, reliability, thoroughness and analytical thinking.
it’s good to have a bit of both, but it’s far more important to determine which way you lean before diving down a career path. A prevention-focused person, for example, would do far better as a developer in a major corporation than launching his or her own startup. A promotion-oriented person would likely feel suffocated in a traditional 9-to-5, thriving instead in a more creative environment with bigger risks and bigger rewards.
What is my personality type?
You may have heard about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test around the internet. It’s a personality test that can help you establish a personality inventory. Its main purpose is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful in people’s lives.
The essence of the theory is that much of the seemingly random variation in people’s behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment. This theory can help you better pinpoint just what you need in your work environment to thrive. One particularly important aspect is determining whether you’re more of an introvert or an extrovert, as the two personality types differ widely in their needs. Then again, there are many variations of these two types, and MBTI tests can help you know them.
An introvert, for example, may be more attracted to a quieter research role, while an extrovert might thrive in a busy, loud sales office.
There are 16 types of personalities that can be determined through certain MBTI tests. These are specific personality types, and knowing your type could help you jumpstart your career.
What kind of lifestyle do you want?
Another piece of knowing about yourself is determining the kind of lifestyle that you want to live. Most jobs start off with at least a few years of hard labor at lower pay. However, what’s more important is looking ahead into a career track that can help you determine the lifestyle it may bring about.
Part of determining the lifestyle that you want is knowing where you want to spend your life in the long run. While not essential for every career type, determining where you want to live can be an important part of the career search process. This is especially true for jobs that are focused in certain regions. If you want to work in the magazine industry, then you would probably need to move to New York City. Wheat farmer? The Midwest. Anthropologist? Just about anywhere.
Of course, you don’t have to move. But for some jobs it may be necessary.
Like all of these other considerations, that’s just one small piece in a very large puzzle.
Some other factors you might want to consider include the amount of control you have with your time, the salary, possibilities of travel, and health benefits, among many others.
Also, if giving back to the community gives you the most job satisfaction, being a social worker with a relatively low wage could satisfy your needs. Then again, if you’d prefer to turn off your work at the end of the day, and go live your “real” life, including eating out, travel and play, then perhaps a higher-paying career is more appropriate for you.
This, however, is something that you need to discover for yourself.