As a child, you had hopes and dreams — visions of becoming a veterinarian, a doctor, a nurse, a firefighter, or a movie star. As you aged, the reality of life started to set in, making it seem more realistic to put aside your dreams and focus on a career that lets you survive and live a comfortable life.
Being realistic is important, but it shouldn’t take away your career dreams altogether. No matter what your desired field, you can discover the career of your dreams through hard work, dedication, and the right approach. In addition, you can accomplish it without sacrificing your financial security in the process.
Can’t figure out what you want to do with your life? Whether you’re struggling to balance reality with the need to feel fulfilled or just can’t find the right direction to take, the right insight will help you find your way. Scroll down to learn more about how to identify your strengths and weaknesses, determine career viability, and explore your personal motivators in this helpful guide.
Find Your Dream Job, Step By Step
Get to Know Yourself
The best way to get started on the path to a rewarding career is to get involved and explore your options. Begin by thinking about what you enjoy doing the most and make a list of anything you really enjoy doing, no matter how average or mundane it seems.
Your inner chef, artist, or caregiver may usually just fade into the melting pot of your everyday life, but it can also provide you with remarkable insight into potential careers. Love tinkering with cars? Look into becoming a mechanic. Love to draw? Graphic design just might be for you. Find math fascinating? Look into accounting and fintech careers and flex those arithmetic skills.
Try On Many Hats
Exploring your preferences is a fantastic start, but you shouldn’t just opt in to the first activity you enjoy and run with it. Working in a career is different than enjoying a hobby at home, and it’s important that you fully understand the difference before you register for school or university.
Instead, you should “try on many hats” by talking to people who already work and thrive in careers you are considering. Consider job shadowing, conducting interviews, or becoming an intern for professionals.
Try out several different options, then weigh the pros and cons of each career. Keep narrowing the process down until you have three or four main options.
Investigate Career Statistics
It’s not only important for you to find personal satisfaction in your job, but also to earn enough money to live comfortably. So before going into a field, you’ll want to think about potential job security and your chances of success. Even though the focus is on fulfilling your dreams, acknowledging reality is an important part of the journey.
Use sites like BLS.gov to find data on your career ideas like industry growth, job availability, average pay, and location-based pay increases or decreases. Be sure to factor in average number of hours per week, which U.S. markets have the most jobs available, and how likely you are to still have a job in coming years.
Use employment projections to rate your top three or four careers by viability, then decide in which areas you’re willing to compromise. For example, if you’re willing to move to earn better pay a lower-paying career may be favorable to a higher-paying career you don’t enjoy as much.
Create a Career Path Map
At this point, you probably have at least a reasonable idea of what you want to do and how viable it is. Now comes the hard work: figuring out how to get there from wherever you are right now.
Business News Daily suggests creating a career plan you can follow now, after you graduate, and even after you step into your chosen industry. This “map” organizes your quest and makes it easier to set goals to achieve more in less time. The site recommends including these items:
- Your marketability, or the skills that will help you succeed
- Your strong and weak points
- Your resources, including your knowledge and the people you know
- Your list of goals
- Your timeline for achieving those goals
With your interests, your goals, your career’s viability, and your timeline nailed down, all that’s left to do is stick with the process. Strive to cultivate dedication, strong work ethic, and professionalism along the way; they’ll put you in a better position once you graduate. When times get tough or you struggle, remind yourself that you’re doing this for all the right reasons: surviving and thriving in a career you can truly love.