Looking For Career Direction?

Just about everyone wonders what they might like to do, should do, or will do in terms of their career. In fact, it’s not uncommon to ponder this question multiple times in one’s life.

The thing is, we usually ponder this question when we are least prepared to actually make a well-thought out decision. We wait until we’re fired, let go or we hate our jobs and then start the process out of desperation rather than thinking about what we might like to do with our lives when time s are good. When times are good and we’ve got the time to turn our attention to the future, we can objectively look at jobs and see the pros and cons; make a better informed decision about what might be next in terms of what we’ll do.

Maybe you’ve made the mistake of hating your job and running impulsively to another, which in the short-term seems like a really positive move, (“I had to get away from that place – the work was killing me!”) but then you realize very early into the new job that it’s not right for you, (“What have I done? I can’t stay here!”)

In the act of running away from a job you hated or couldn’t bear to do any longer, you didn’t make a good informed decision about your next job, you just leapt at what appeared to be something better. However, once the perils of the previous job were behind you, you had time to take stock of things, and the job you traded your old one in for is only slightly better but entirely unsatisfactory.

It’s like a rebound job; the same situation some find themselves in when they finish a really bad relationship and end up in another relationship that seemed the right thing to do but in retrospect isn’t fulfilling your needs.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is take stock of your situation. Look objectively at your skills, your interests, your financial needs and obligations. Ask yourself what would make you happy and what, with your current skills and experience you are qualified to do. Do you want to work for others or for yourself? Another good thing to think about is you’ve got to ask yourself these questions based on where you are in light of your age. How old you are might determine if you look 3 years into the future or 20 years into the future.

Now some people like the idea of career mapping; knowing what you want in the long-term and plotting the job titles and experience you’ll need to ultimately compete for that dream job. Others don’t plan for 20 years down the road but rather go in 3-5 year chunks. These folks find too much future gazing is paralyzing and they can’t honestly respond intelligently to questions about where they will be in their long-term future.

For these people, asking them where they see themselves in 2-3 years is much easier for them to answer; otherwise it just seem pointless to look too far ahead. In fact, if you are in the habit of asking people that dreaded question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, I would advise you to try asking instead of the next 2-3 years and see if you don’t get a better response.

I heard today something that made complete sense to me; with many people unable to afford buying bigger houses, the traditional plan of buying a starter and then selling and buying 3 or 4 homes before landing in ones forever house isn’t on. Now many will buy a starter home and renovate it as their needs and finances allow. This means there could be a boon in renovation work needed in the future, and with that knowledge, anyone remotely thinking of getting into the trades would be well-advised to do so.

That kind of news story, where an economic factor impacts on jobs and careers is the type of thing that could spark an idea in someone who is looking at their future and wondering what kinds of jobs will be in demand in the future.  The radio, newspapers, television, internet etc. are great sources for trends, directions and demographics.

Academic institutions are also usually up on studies and if you’ve got the inclination to do some homework you can find out what’s trending for the next 5 – 10 years. You should know though that many people hear things through chance meetings, looking around and observing for themselves the changes they see, the business that fail or succeed.

You may, as you ponder what you’d like to do, ask questions of people. How did they get started or end up where they are? What’s the good and the bad about the work they do? Sometimes just sitting down and watching the people coming and going out of a building – especially at the end of the work day can tell you a lot about the happiness of the people who work inside. Do they emerge with energy and a smile or do they appear stressed, unhappy as if they just escaped?

There is honour in all kinds of work that others might see as menial; while some prestigious job titles aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Best find work that makes you happy, you’re good at and you pays well; the perfect combination!


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