Choosing a Career

career, success, and growth on road sign

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.   -Steve Jobs

1. Identify Your Passion
Passion should become your North Star on the way to determining what job is good for you.
Why? You’re very likely to change jobs about 12 times in your lifetime, most often because you’ll become bored with what you do. In some of these jobs, you’ll get stuck for longer. If you don’t start with your passion, the danger is your job no.12 will feel just as miserable and boring as job no.1, and all the others in between. This is exactly what you'd rather avoid, isn’t it? Obviously, in your search for a great career you will come across those who’ll tell you passion isn’t the best advisor when it comes to making career choices. Some people will tell you to do something useful instead. Some experts say that not following your passion is the reason why you’ll fail to have a great career. You know what? We tend to trust the latter more. Studies show that passion, or doing the work we love, is instrumental to our long-term success and happy professional life.

Mind you though—
If you're passionate about music, you don't have to start a band and become a musician. You can just as well be a record store owner, work as a music journalist, become a sound engineer, or work as part of tech crew. The possibilities are endless. So if you haven’t found what it is, keep looking. Start volunteering and interning for roles you find interesting as early as possible, even as a teenager. It's very important to figure out what you want to do before you choose to pursue a college education. A lot of it will be trial and error but that's the best way to find out what it is you love doing.

2. Plan Ahead
Sorry to disappoint you—Passion is vital. But it’s hardly enough. What you need is a plan.
Without developing an actionable plan you’ll end up daydreaming, rather than pursuing a satisfying career. One way of making a plan is to imagine what you want to be doing for a living and take it backwards from there. Say, you love photography and want to live off YouTube tutorials you make. This sounds like a passion, but what’s the plan? Maybe it’s a good idea to get a summer job as a photographer’s assistant to learn the craft? Perhaps working as a waitress to put some money aside for a new lens is acceptable? How about getting hired as a marketing intern to see how online marketing works is OK? Networking with like-minded people makes sense. The point is to reverse-engineer the career you’re passionate about into its component parts. Then create a list of things you need to learn and do to achieve your goal.
But beware—
Your plan will rarely go smoothly. You will face obstacles. You will get disappointed. You will want to give up on occasion.

3. Define Your Expectations
Professor Barry Schwartz has devoted much of his time to exploring what it takes to lead a happy life. In his 2004 study he suggested that in order to avoid disappointment, self-blame, and, ultimately, unhappiness, we ought to control our expectations by adjusting them to certain reasonable standards. He humorously paraphrased his findings by saying that the secret to a happy life are low expectations. How does this tie in with choosing the right career? Imagine you have two passions: painting and finances.

If the life you expect to live includes a bottle of Château Lafite from time to time, you’d be better off pursuing a career of an investment banker who paints in their free time.
But, if the lifestyle of a street painter who knows how to get by on a shoestring budget is what appeals to you, you’ll surely have a happier life as an artist.
The choice is yours. What matters, though, is to choose a career that will allow you to live the life you expect. So, consider all your interests, strengths, and passions. Ask yourself what kind of life you want to live and define your expectations. Make sure they’re realistic. After all it’s better to be positively surprised by your success than bitterly disappointed by failing to come up to your bloated expectations.

4. Count the Money
Cut to the chase: The 2018 Jobseeker Nation Survey reveals that inadequate compensation is the #1 factor for leaving a job. Which makes perfect sense: if the money you earn is insufficient to live the life you expect, you change the job.

Once your expectations are in place, you must find out if the career you wish to pursue will earn you enough to buy food and pay your bills. The technology we have at our fingertips allows us to gain knowledge and information by simple online searches. There are several online resources dedicated to providing salary information. Be realistic, choose a career that's both: aligned with your passion and that will earn you a living you expect. If it turns out your passion won't earn you enough, come up with another plan. Don't give up on your passion.

5. Don’t Fully Trust Career Quizzes
We live in strange times.
Google gets asked “what’s the weather like today” more than 200,000 times a month, when all it takes to find out is to, look through the window or open the door and let some fresh air in.
The same seems to be true about our ability to know ourselves. Half a million people a month choose to take a “how to choose a career” or “what career is right for me” kind of quiz over having heart-to-heart conversations with their family members, friends, career counselors, or… simply trusting their gut feeling about themselves.
To make things clear—
This is not to discount all sorts of tests that are supposed to help you in your professional life.
Certain tests could help you learn more about the type of personality you have, or the work environment that you’d thrive in, but make sure the tests are selected, conducted, and assessed by trained professionals who know how to interpret the scores and relate them to you in particular.

6. Embrace the Change
We’re living in a world where change is the new constant. Companies push innovation to the limits and we need to learn to adapt if we wish to thrive professionally. What does it mean in practice? You mustn't be afraid of change. If at any point in your life you feel like your career is going nowhere. Try something different. It may be hard, it may be slow, and it may be terrifying initially. But it may turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made.

You know—
Walt Disney used to be a newspaper editor and Harrison Ford was a carpenter.