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How to Choose a Career

How to Choose a Career

Choosing a job that fulfills you can seem like an overwhelming task.

Often, people will choose the first job that hires them because they don’t hold value in their need to be fulfilled and gratified in the workplace.

This leads to early burnout and job dissatisfaction, creating a loop of being in and out of workplaces.

To pick a job that is not only suited to your skills, but also your fulfillment, you need to consider how the job and its environment mesh with you as a person, not you as an employee.

If you aren’t sure what that means, there are a few things to consider about yourself:

  • Your purpose
  • Your motivations and interests
  • Your personality
  • Your experiences
  • Your financial needs

When you follow the proper methods to be introspective, you can easily discover not only what job is best for you, but how to truly be happy in the workplace.

Life Purpose

What’s your life purpose? Have you thought much about it? 

Life purpose is best described as the quality we are here on earth to develop, the type of service we are here to render, or the way we can enhance or improve some segment of the world.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

Perhaps you’ve known someone who always seemed to understand exactly what they wanted out of life. Maybe they achieved goals with little effort, easily overcame obstacles and challenges, or were consistently focused and decisive. Those type of people all have a definitive life purpose.

For people with a strong life purpose it’s easier to:

  • Prioritize
  • Plan
  • Stay motivated
  • Focus on what matters
  • Be resilient

We all have a central life purpose that, if fulfilled (especially through one’s career), generates optimum gratification.

It may take a while to discover your purpose – while some lucky people know their purpose at a young age, others only discover it as they mature, or sometimes not at all.

However, if you’re able to discover and begin fulfilling your life purpose, you’ll begin to realize more satisfaction and meaning than you ever thought possible. For this, you need to stimulate your thinking to extract ideas about your life purpose.

Here are some questions to elicit ideas about your life purpose:

  • What is it you love to do in your spare time?
  • What do you naturally do well?
  • What are your ten greatest successes?
  • What life lessons have been most important to you?
  • What do you daydream about?
  • What things would you be proud to be remembered for?
  • What would you do if it wasn’t possible for you to fail?

How to Choose a Career


Which subject did you like least in school?

In that class, if you are like most of us, you only studied enough to pass, were mostly bored, and could not wait for it to be over.

Many people today have a similar attitude toward their job.

This is the opposite kind of motivation we want in our career.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

– Maya Angelou

While everyone knows the types of tasks we like to perform, we’re often unaware of what truly motivates us.

Motives are unconscious but become a driving force that must be fulfilled. They appear as needs, wants, or concerns and usually include a desire to reach a certain goal.

Each of us is motivated by different factors at work, including both the type of work and environment in which we perform it.

Though we often are not cognizant of our motives, they drive everything we do, from who we choose to associate with to which side of town we want to live on. This is because our motives directly influence our interests.

Usually when we have a high level of interest in something, we are also highly motivated to do it. 

How to Choose a Career


Your personality is important. Not only does it make you who you are, but it influences your decisions both in your personal life and at work.

If your personality is reserved and you have a hard time standing up for yourself, you might not make a great attorney. If you are a loud person who loves to be the center of attention, you might not be the happiest stock room worker.

The person you are and the things you enjoy, or dislike, should be considered when thinking of the best career for you.

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.

– May Sarton

Outgoing people are often naturals at providing helpful, friendly customer service and boosting the attitudes of co-workers with their upbeat energy.

These same outgoing people, however, may struggle to flourish in positions that keep them separated from others.

Similarly, introverted individuals will struggle in a customer-facing role, or a role with a large amount of publicity.

These individuals are better suited for quiet, solo work, where they are comfortable enough to flourish.

Being introverted or extroverted doesn’t make you a good or a bad worker. It makes some jobs good or bad choices for you.

Let your future career accentuate your personality, not fight it. This is a tried and true formula for prolonged satisfaction and career sustainability.

Take the free test below and learn what real-world careers align with your personality.

How to Choose a Career


Think about all the jobs you’ve done in the past.

Why did you choose each job?

Maybe it was just for the money, maybe it was convenient, or maybe there was a more meaningful reason.

The industries or jobs we choose can reveal important elements of your personality and style. 

Be thankful for everything that happens in your life; it’s all an experience.

– Roy T. Bennett

Have you worked jobs that gave you enjoyment? Can you identify the reasons why?

The idea is that you can take elements of your work experience and use them to think about how you can get more meaning out of your future job.

If you can create a physical list of the things you liked about past jobs and the things you hated, you will begin to see a pattern of interests and drawbacks that help build a clear picture of your personal and workplace needs.

For instance, maybe you’ve worked a job where you had a lot of success and advancement.

Typically, your rate of progression in responsibility (or lack thereof) at a job will indicate your level of motivation and drive.

Similarly, lack of progression in responsibility may indicate a low level of motivation or drive towards your work.

Low motivation and lack of progression could be symptomatic of working in a job, company, or industry that is not a good fit for your demeanor.

Your past experiences can provide you clues as to the types of jobs or industries that you may be inclined toward or have a naturally ability for.

It’s worth spending some time to think about what important lessons your experiences can teach you about yourself.

How to Choose a Career

Income Potential

There’s no way to deny the importance of income when considering what job to do.

If you want your income to grow, you too must grow.

– Idowu Koyenikan

Please know that while income is an important consideration, it’s no more important than the amount of meaning you gather from your job.

In a world where many people work just to make money it’s too often the only factor that’s considered.

In fact, when you are truly unhappy in the workplace, a high income often isn’t enough to prevent the cycle switching jobs. There doesn’t need to be a compromise between income and happiness.

There are undoubtedly many jobs that will provide you financial security along with a strong sense of purpose and meaning.

The trick is taking the time to pick the perfect one.

Here are some helpful articles to consider as you choose your career target:

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