Imagine ... you finished your main education and it's time to choose a career. Others giving you suggestions on what to do. You feel confused. You don't really know where to start.
Bear in mind, that choosing the right career is extremely important. Why?
Because it will have a big impact on your happiness, your confidence, your health and your finances.
I admit, it is surely not easy to decide at such a young age what career path one should pursue.
The available career options are not always clear and what the future might have in store nobody knows. However, here are some relevant mistakes that you might seriously want to avoid when choosing your career.
Let’s get started.
1. Don’t ignore your passions.
For this you need to do a thorough self-assessment. You need to ask yourself (what am I good at, what am I particularly interested in and follow with passion? What do I really enjoy doing?) Remember that in the end, you need to feel enthusiastic about the job that you are going to do for the coming years. On Monday mornings you want to get out of bed, feeling excited, right? You want a job that you look forward to going to by telling yourself: Let’s see what I can move today? I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get started.
2. Don’t just choose a career just because currently it’s trendy.
For example, many people nowadays want to be Social Media Managers or Digital Marketing Managers. If this job is not really your cup of tea, stay away from it.
3. Don’t focus just on the money aspect.
Believe me, it will motivate you for a short period of time, but what you will feel afterwards, is pure frustration. It’s just not worthwhile. Instead do something that you love, and by doing it, you will be a high performer, which then automatically leads to the right financial rewards. Plesae keep this in mind!
4. Don’t follow the career path that your friends have chosen.
Remember? It’s YOUR life. YOU have the power to decide for yourself. It doesn’t mean that you have to study or do the same as them, so that you can spend more time with them. Therefore, think on your own feet. If they want to be accountants, but you do not like to deal with numbers, forget it! Focus instead on your own strengths and interests.
5. Don’t ignore your gut feeling.
If something doesn’t feel right, move on!
6. Don’t feel forced to do what your parents or teachers recommend.
Listen to what they have to say, YES! BUT follow your own instincts. They might say that a particular job (let’s say becoming a lawyer) would be in your best interest, but – again – remember, it’s YOUR LIFE! If you don’t like confrontations, forget becoming a lawyer! Do yourself a favour, and stick to your real interests and passions.
7. Don’t forget about your personal ethics.
What are your personal values? Once you know them, stick to them. So, if you are against animal cruelty, it would not be right to become a medical researcher where your job might also consist in carrying out animal laboratory tests.
8. Don’t just choose a career without knowing anything about it.
You need to do your research. Find out the following details:
- the advantages of the job,
- the disadvantages of the job,
- what the requirements are,
- what type and duration of training is required,
- what skills are relevant,
- what the salary expectations are etc.
Only once you have these details, you will find it easier to narrow down your career choices.
9. Don’t think that your personality has nothing to do with your career choice.
It is definitely something you need to take into consideration. If you want to work in the media sector, but are more of an introvert person who does not really want to constantly interact with people, this might not be the right career path for you.
You might want to do a little exercise and ask around how other people would describe your personality. Consider asking different people, such as: current and former teachers, your parents, your relatives, your friends, your acquaintances etc. Also write down how you see yourself and then see what the result is. Is there anything that surprises you, that shocks you? Make a list with all the adjectives that these people came up with to describe you. See if these personality traits are aligned with your desired profession.
10. Don’t forget to hold conversations with people who are already working in the desired profession.
So, let’s say you want to be a web developer. Then try to read up on a lot of material to see what their insights and experiences are. On YouTube for example you might come across a lot of videos in which people share their experiences and tell you how a day in the life of a web developer is. It can turn out to be a really eye-opening time which might force you to do some self reflective thinking. Thus, be smart and use this opportunity to the fullest to get as much insights from people all around the world as possible. You can do all this for free and from the comfort of your home!
11. Don’t underestimate yourself and your skills.
Do a thorough skills assessment. See what you are good at and what you are interested in. If you find it difficult to determine this, then do the following exercise:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- If I would have to read 20 books about one topic, what would be the topic?
- What do people praise me for?
- Do people ask me for advice on a regular basis with regards to a particular topic (because they know that I’m very knowledgeable about it)?
- What did I want to become when I was a child?
- What school subjects was I particularly good at?
- What school subjects did I find particularly easy?
- On the other hand, which subjects did I struggle with?
12. Don’t forget to think about your desired lifestyle.
If you want to have guaranteed weekends off, be aware that there are certain jobs which require you to also be available during unsociable hours/days (e.g. in the evenings and the weekends, in the hospitality industry). Make sure your work fits well with your personal circumstances.
13. Don’t ignore the culture.
If you are a woman and want to work in a male-dominated industry (e.g. automobile industry), you need to think if you would still feel comfortable being surrounded by many, or “just” men colleagues.
14. Don’t stop researching.
Find out as much as possible about other career choices. If Plan A doesn’t work, look for Plan B, otherwise you might feel completely lost and devastated. If for whatever reason you can’t pursue a certain job
15. Don’t just choose a career for the sake of choosing something, because you have no clue about what you want to become.
Time and life is too precious to be wasted doing meaningless tasks. You surely don’t want to turn 60 and regret in hindsight your choice.
16. Don’t think your goals are irrelevant.
Think about what you want to achieve long-term. Visualise how it would be, how it would look and feel to have achieved those goals!
17. Don’t forget to ask yourself the crucial question “What is important to me?”
Do I want to work with people in a team?
Do I want to deal with numbers?
Do I prefer to work on my own?
Do I love working with computers?
Do I enjoy being outdoors in nature?
Do I find real pleasure working with animals?
Do I find it fascinating to be working with plants?
Or something else?
Define which environment suits you best.
Let’s say you are a very extrovert person and like to interact with lots of people in your job, then working from home as a proof reader might not be the best choice for you because you would feel isolated very quickly. Therefore, think about what is important to you!
18. Don’t miss the opportunity to take some career quizzes online.
Find out what the outcome is and if it aligns with your skills and talents.
19. Don’t disregard the working hours that your job might require.
If you need to work also evening hours or the weekends, be aware of that!
20. Don’t ignore the fact about the availability of jobs.
Do some research and find out if in your area there are enough jobs available or whether you would have to move to big cities in order to do it. For example, if you want to be a flight attendant, it is a requirement to live nearby an airport. Thus, if you live far away, you would have to move. Ask yourself: Would I be fine with that?
21. Don’t disregard the expected efforts.
What efforts are you prepared to make today, which will help you to achieve your long-term goal tomorrow? Let’s say you would be required to work 50-60 hours a week for 2 or 3 consecutive years, would you be prepared to do it? If you have to study for 6-8 years, would you be able to do it? Do you have the energy and motivation to do it? If not, then you might want to consider other alternatives.
22. Don’t overestimate your capabilities.
Do you really have the skill that the job requires? For example, if you wish to be a graphic designer but your drawing skills are really lacking, you might need to be realistic and see whether you would really enjoy and succeed in this kind of job.
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