How to Find the Right Career For You

Apr 5, 2021 | Career

Finding the *right* career path can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re only just leaving education. As a society, we put a lot of value on fulfilling work and often ask children as young as 5 what they want to be when they grow up.

It’s interesting then, that up until the 1500s, the idea that work should be fulfilling would have been laughed at. Since Roman times, paid work had been seen as innately humiliating, with the rich avoiding physical labour at all costs. It wasn’t until the Renaissance painters turned up that things started to change but, even then, the type of work you did was determined by your family trade, so choosing what kind of work you wanted to do was never a problem.

The problem we face today with finding the right career is two-fold:

  1. Our brains can’t be creative and make decisions at the same time. When someone asks us “what kind of work do you want to do?” they’re asking us to choose from more than 500,000 possibilities, which can make us feel overwhelmed.
  2. We expect the answer of what we should do for a living to come to us naturally. Apart from finding a romantic partner, we don’t leave any other big decisions down to intuition alone.

The good news is, asking your brain to think around the subject of careers instead of head on can give some useful clues as to what might be the right career path for you. Grab a notebook and pen and try these journaling prompts:

  • Think back to your childhood, what toys did you enjoy playing with? What activities did you enjoy? What did you enjoy about them?
  • Think about jobs your friends and family do, are there any you would absolutely hate? What about them would you find difficult or dislike?
  • Imagine you wake up at some point in the future and you’re the most professionally fulfilled version of yourself. What does your day look like? Where are you going? What are you doing?

Image: Calm

  • Focus on how you want your ideal job to feel. Do you want to feel exhilarated? Impactful? Autonomous? Refer to the emotions wheel above and use Google to search for synonyms.

Now you’ve got your shortlist of things you might like or dislike doing, think about what jobs might tick the majority of your boxes. Use the National Careers Service for ideas.

The importance of money

Because we expect fulfilling work to come to us innately, we also expect it to be noble and
selfless. The reality is, your career can have a positive impact on others and put a roof over
your head. In fact, it’s imperative that you have enough money to be comfortable so that you can continue to do great work.

This mindset struggle links back to our overall feelings about money. We may believe that we are undeserving of money or that people with lots of money are bad or evil. It’s important to recognise these beliefs so that we can start replacing them with new, more helpful ones. An affirmation you might find helpful is:

“When more good people share in the world’s wealth, the world becomes a better place.”

Head back to your notebook and try these journaling prompts to reflect on your feelings about money:

  • What attitudes to money did you experience growing up?
  • What are the lies you tell yourself about money?
  • What is the truth?

As we’ve seen, there’s more to finding the right career path than meets the eye. The truth is, no one knows what they want to be when they grow up, no matter how old they are. In the search for fulfilling work, there are things we can do to tease out ideas about what we might like to do – journaling, asking clever questions or talking it through with a friend or professional careers coach – but plans will always change. It’s important to keep in mind that work is something you do and not something you are. You can always change your mind and try new things, you just need to take the first step.

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