Since elementary school you’ve been asked over and over, “so what do you want to be when you grow up?” At a young age, you were full of excitement and energy to become a pilot or a ballerina or a famous chef. But now that you’re all grown up, you may not have the same passion for those things or that lifestyle. You feel lost, without a path. Everyone else seems to have it figured out, so why are you still struggling to find your dream job?
Maybe you just haven’t found a profession that is right for you. Maybe you’re still figuring out your passions and your strengths. Maybe you’re having trouble matching a profession with the type of lifestyle you want to live. Whatever is holding you back, there are questions to ask and areas to explore that can help you find your dream profession. You are not behind or lost, you just need a little push in the right direction. It’s all about re-centering and realigning your path and your priorities.
List out what is important to you in your life so you can ask all the right questions. Do you want to be close to your family? How much schooling are you willing to undertake? What kind of work environment will fit in with your attitude? What jobs do you absolutely not want to do? Take baby steps toward the direction of your dreams. Here are just a few other things to consider as you’re trying to decide what you want to do professionally.
Take the lifestyle into consideration.
Every job comes with a certain amount of sacrifice and lifestyle change. Performers who tour across the country have a very different lifestyle than a marketing executive with a set nine to five schedule every week. Do you want to be wearing suits, meeting clients every day or would you prefer a job that is flexible and outdoors? Whatever profession you consider, you may end up readjusting your lifestyle to that job. Some jobs take this to the extreme. If you’ve always been a religious person, maybe you feel called to join the church. Just remember, if you choose to don the priest shirt in the Catholic church, that comes with an agreement to remain unmarried and celibate. But if you feel called to pursue the clergy path, you’ll feel comfortable with everything that comes with it. Just be aware of the lifestyle that comes along with your chosen career before you fully pursue it.
Find a mentor to give you guidance.
During the senior year of an undergraduate degree, a lot of students start to worry about what to do with their careers. This may be a time to consider an internship with a trusted advisor or mentor who can help shape where you want to go. Most universities will have instructors and members of their boards who you can speak with to hear more about different paths you can explore. For example, Christopher Sarofim, a gentleman on the board for the Baylor College of Medicine, has years of experience and wisdom to impart to young students pushing graduate courses or an undergraduate degree who may be interested in pursuing sales, history, or medicine. Find those individuals who inspire you and consider following in their footsteps with your own chosen career.
Identify your key passions.
As the old saying goes “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Doesn’t that sound wonderful? This is why one of the first things to consider as you’re exploring possible professions is to find your passion. What makes your heart happy? This doesn’t even have to be a specific career. You can be passionate about helping people, saving the environment, or creating solutions to difficult problems. Even thinking of your passions in the abstract can lead you towards a career where that passion can be utilized and shaped into a job.
Know your strengths and your skillset.
Being passionate about a specific area is step one, but now you need to examine if you have the necessary skills to do the job. Knowing your strengths is another huge element in figuring out what you want to do professionally. If you’re great at fixing things, you’d be a great technician. If you are good at giving advice consider being an academic advisor or a counselor. If you have a great mind for math and science, explore the medical or finance field. Knowing what you’re good at can help you find a job where you can truly excel. From there, see if you can form the inception of your passions and your talents to find a perfect career for you.
Take a class.
Sometimes you won’t know if you like a career path until you learn a little more about it. If you have a hobby you really enjoy, take a few credit hours to see if it can turn into a full-time job. An Automotive and Diesel Technology program or a class in graphic design can answer your questions and help you set up a strategic plan for your future. Eligible students can learn about electrical systems and get technical training to further their careers. Check the eligibility requirements if this sounds interesting to you. Sometimes it just takes a little more education and accreditation to discover the right path for you.
Know what you definitely don’t want.
There are so many options out there for careers you may enjoy. But with so many options, there are definitely a few areas you already know you don’t want to work in. If you can’t stand finance and marketing classes, you probably don’t want to get an accelerated graduate business degree. Even the best undergraduate studies and master’s degrees will be useless if you know you don’t want to work in that area. Know the things you definitely don’t want to do and areas you don’t want to work in. This can help narrow things down and lead you to the right job for you.
Create clear, simple goals.
When you’re deciding on a profession, know exactly what you’re looking for. Create goals for your life and your job. If money is your number one priority, set a salary goal, and only look at jobs that will make you the kind of money you want. On the other hand, if it’s most important to you that you are doing work that helps people, you will be looking at a completely different set of criteria within certain jobs. Know what you want out of life and create specific goals and find a career that matches exactly what you’re looking for.
Design your ideal work environment.
The beauty of not having a set path right away is that you get to create your own. Take time to consider what your perfect work environment looks like. Do you want to work at a startup where everyone is hip and cool for a period of time? Would you prefer being in a traditional, stricter place? Or do you want to work from home or on the road with complete flexibility? Again, knowing what you’re looking for in a work environment will help you narrow down what professions to explore.
Trust your community.
Deciding your career path is a big step. Trust the people around you to help you make it. Consult with your family and friends to help define your goals, strengths, and passions. They will be happy to help you come into your own and start on the perfect path for you.