How to Find a Fulfilling Career
Too many people spend years in a job they do not find enjoyable, challenging or fulfilling. Over time, this can lead to a feeling not only of dissatisfaction and boredom but also low self-esteem. However, if you find a career that you believe is worthwhile and stimulating, you will spend most of your working days in a motivated and positive state of mind, which can only improve your mental health. Of course, a universal ideal fulfilling career does not exist, as what is right for one person may not be for another. Finding a career requires some self-reflection and a great deal of research, but here are some tips to get you started.
Consider your personality and interests
Your first step to finding a fulfilling career is to consider your own personality and interests, as this will help you to identify an industry and job role that you will adapt to more naturally. You obviously know which sectors are of interest to you as you are more likely to work hard and to stick at a job you are interested in. There are lots of personality tests and career quizzes that might help you to ask the right questions of yourself. You are likely to have natural talents and an aptitude for specific skills, but if you are having trouble working out what they are, ask family, friends, and colleagues what type of career they can imagine you in. When you have found a list of possible careers that you might be compatible with, you can start to create a shortlist of careers that appeal to you.
Evaluate your values and motivations
We all have a set of core values that influence our day-to-day decisions and guide us through life. What would you value most about a career? You might want to make a difference to the lives of others, to help, to be in control, to develop skills and overcome obstacles, to enjoy variety, or to be recognized for your achievements. Some people are motivated by earning money, by making their own choices, or by using their creativity, and there is no right or wrong reason to work hard in a career. If your career does not align with your values, you will be unlikely to be fulfilled.
Think about the day-to-day
When you are considering a career or careers, be sure to research the details, i.e., what you would spend your days doing and the practical tasks you would need to perform. Someone might want to work for a charity that helps young people, for example, but working in administration might be too repetitive for a creative person. Another person might like the idea of earning a high wage, but may not be suited to coping with lots of pressure.
Are you prepared to put in physical labor for your career, to meet strangers on a regular basis, or work night shifts? Many careers that involve helping others require the wearing of personalised clothing as a uniform. Some people are not keen on the idea of this, but being part of a team with everyone wearing the same clothing can be a great motivator and provides them with a professional identity. It is incredibly rare that a person enjoys all aspects of their career and everyone has bad days, but they should not outweigh the good.
Consider your lifestyle
It is not always possible to predict the kind of schedule you would be working, but some roles require unusual working hours and long shifts. Being a doctor or nurse is often one of the most rewarding careers, but also requires long and tiring shifts with a high level of pressure. Even if you are highly motivated by the desire to help others, if the hours and pressure do not suit your lifestyle or personality it may not be the right choice for you. Some roles will require you to work to tight deadlines, or travel around the country or abroad. You may need to adjust slightly when choosing a new career, but be prepared for how much of an impact a work schedule can have on your work-life balance.
Look at your budget
While money is certainly not everything, if your career does not generate enough income to support yourself or your family, you are likely to be stressed. This will negate a lot of the positive aspects of your career. Do some research into the average salary for your chosen career, including the average starting wage and future earning potential. Compare this figure against your living expenses to find out if you will have enough money to meet your commitments and enjoy your free time. If career advancement is important for you, look at the possible opportunities for growth, as being stuck in one position for a long time is likely to lead to boredom for some.
Research the employment market
If you enter a competitive industry, you may find it difficult to find a position and/or to progress. If you choose an industry that is declining or a career that is in the process of being replaced by technology and artificial intelligence, you may find yourself out of work. A good place to gather information about the job market (including employment growth, salaries, and long-term prospects) is the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you are not able or willing to move for a new career, it is also worth considering which locations are better for certain careers, and whether you will be likely to find a role where you live.
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