Choosing a career is a major decision. Even if you end up switching careers down the line, the first step you take into the working world will impact the entirety of your professional journey. But as someone with multiple interests, skills and passions, it can be difficult to narrow in on just one career that best represents your goals and dreams. To help you find the right path, 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council shared advice for deciding on the best career for you. Follow their advice to learn about who you are and point yourself in an ideal professional direction.
1. Imagine Your Dream Job At This Point In Time
There are many different career assessment tools available on the market. However, when it comes down to it, finding a career is about understanding what is important to you. Take a moment and reflect on this question: What is the best possible job I can imagine for myself right now that has meaning for me, brings me pleasure, enables me to use my strengths and allows me to exercise my values? – Palena Neale, Ph.D, unabridged
2. Follow What You’re Good At
The rallying cry to “follow your passion” can sometimes get in the way of building your career. It’s awesome that so many people today try to channel their passion into their work, but building a career shouldn’t be solely focused on your passion. Next time you find yourself losing your passion for the job, focus on what you’re good at. That’s much more important in building a successful career. – Rob Tillman, TillmanPartners
3. Identify Your ‘Sweet Spot’
Your ‘sweet spot’ is at the intersection of your strengths, expertise and interests. If you have a lot of interests, narrow the field to those that you also have experience in, skills in and those that are in your strength zone. Take this a step further by doing research to understand the trending roles in the job market. Perform a gaps assessment between where you are and where you want to go for success. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC
4. Clarify Your Personal Mission, Vision And Values
The best way to narrow down career choices is to pick a career that aligns with your personal mission, vision and values. Ask yourself the following three questions: What do you want to do with your life? How do you want to live your life? What do I value? Your answers will clarify for you which career is most likely the optimal choice. – Tracy Levine, Advantage Talent, Inc.
5. Take A Creative, Hands-On Approach
In addition to using online resources to learn more about careers, wouldn’t it be incredible if we could fully immerse ourselves in hands-on research experiences? We can! I recommend conducting in-person informational interviews with people working in fields of interest, joining professional organizations across fields and volunteering with organizations that expose you to different experiences. – Kimberly A. Ferguson, K-Ferg Training
6. Look At People, Not Just Titles and Industries
It may seem counterintuitive to what we have been taught in school, to focus on “career paths,” but those who want to work more in their passion areas should look at who they want to become, not just what they want to do. Identify who you might like to emulate in business and industry and the kind of life you want to live. Talk to those people. This can be a better pursuit than grasping at titles. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
7. Ask Questions To Help You Eliminate Options
Answer this question: What one thing would you do even if you weren’t getting paid for doing it? I use this question to help students identify the right major for them in college. Another way to look at it is where do you spend your time and your money? The answers to those questions will help you take a lot of options off your plate so you can focus on what’s really important to you. – Pamela Scott, MentorLoft
8. Let Your Personal And Professional Values Be Your Guide
There are so many career choices that it can be hard to decide on one. One way to narrow down your options is to carefully align your career path with your personal and professional values. When they are in sync, it can bring a greater sense of job satisfaction and less stress. When choosing a career that supports your value system, you can be inspired to seek opportunities to do your best work. – Shelley Hastings, Synergy Empowerment Coaching, LLC
9. Take Stock Of Your Innate Talents
Picking a path that will allow you to capitalize on your primary innate core strengths will provide you with the greatest sense of fulfillment. When you are using your inherent talents, you will flourish and experience a state of well-being and contribution. Finding meaningful work allows you to experience both personal and professional fulfillment. – Beverly Harvey, HarveyCareers, LLC
10. Choose A Fast-Changing Field
If you are passionate about a lot of things and enjoy a constant challenge, it’s important to find a career that allows you to leverage those skills. Does a career expect you to be a specialist and thrive doing the same thing for the next 40 years? Stay away. Routine suits some people perfectly, but not you. Choose a field with lots of change and chances to pivot and be challenged. – Dr. Rachel MK Headley, Rose Group Int’l LLC
11. Take A Career Assessment
Career management is complex. It is vital to success to assess yourself, identify and align your personal values, competencies, skills, talents and experiences to targeted industries, companies, corporate values and various job opportunities. The assessment reports help you cognitively align targeted priorities to opportunities and create a positive experience in your career development. – Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting
12. Define Your Ideal Work Day
When faced with career choices, we often focus first on what we perceive as our options before clarifying what an ideal day would look like: who would we be with, what conversations would we have, what gifts and skills would we contribute, what workplace values are most important, etc. The role that aligns both with our passions and our ideal day determines the career path. – Ashley Good, Ashley Good Coaching & Consulting
13. Get Clear On Your Definition Of ‘Career’
First, differentiate between a hobby and a career. This will help you to narrow your options. Next, understand that your career should be an outward expression of your gifts, strengths, values and skills. Throughout your life, you’ll decide which roles allow for the best application of those talents. For today, just ask yourself, “Where’s the best place to apply my gifts,” then go from there. – Carol Parker Walsh, Carol Parker Walsh Consulting, LLC
14. Invest Time In Self-Exploration And Your Journey
Self-awareness is the key and self-exploration is the path to get there. Identifying what you really want from the journey and what aspects of the journey really matter can set the foundation for informed decision-making. Once you have some clarity on your vision and values, leveraging your personal and professional network to explore the possibilities can open up exciting opportunities. – Dennis Volpe, LRI
15. Start Anywhere
Paralyzed in the face of endless possible paths, he felt overwhelmed and unsure where to start. For anyone who has numerous interests and multiple possible roads to follow, the best advice is often to just pick one and get going. You’ll learn regardless. Passions can be realized at work or elsewhere! – Joanne Heyman, Heyman Partners
Forbes Coaches Council, 13 Feb 2020.