Deciding on a Career: 6 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Close up of human hand drawing career ladder with chalkPicking the wrong career can have serious negative consequences. From stress and loss of motivation to a salary that doesn’t match the energy you put into your job, a career that isn’t satisfying can take its toll on both your mental and financial health.

Is your current job wearing you down? Don’t worry – everyone makes a mistake the first time they choose their career path, whether it’s spending a year studying they now regret in college or spending more than a decade in an unfulfilling career.

In this blog post, we’ll share six simple but incredibly important questions that you should ask yourself before you consider starting a career, changing to a new one or choosing a career-specific major in college.

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What are your hobbies and passions?

deciding on a career2What do you love doing? What are you passionate about? Everyone has hobbies and passions, and making these passions your career is a great way to make sure you’re spending your professional time doing something you love.

From programming to traveling, almost any hobby can be turned into a career with the right mindset and work ethic. Love to travel? Start your own boutique agency to guide people around beautiful destinations and interesting historical sites.

Do you love to program? Build an entrepreneurial programming career for yourself by developing useful web tools and mobile apps. Every passion – from the artistic to the technical to the entrepreneurial – can be turned into a successful career.

When you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll feel more motivated to give your work your full attention and effort. You’ll produce better quality work and gain the approval of your bosses, clients and customers.

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What career does your education suit?

is economics a good majorIf you’ve already graduates from college or technical school, your qualifications will likely guide your career choices. Having a degree doesn’t bind you to any one career path, but it does change the advantages and disadvantages of your career options.

Do you have a college degree in English or History? If so, the world of publishing and writing is a great place to put your skills to use. Is your degree in economics? If so, a career with a bank or market research firm is a great, financially rewarding fit.

Not everyone makes the right decisions during college, and many people leave with a degree they aren’t completely passionate about. If this sounds like you, don’t give your qualifications too much power over your long-term career decisions.

From freelancing to returning to college and pursuing a postgraduate degree, there are plenty of options to expand your career options beyond those dictated to you by your educational credentials.

Do you want to step into your dream career after graduating from college? Learn the secrets of stepping into great careers by taking part in paid and unpaid internships in college with Find Me a Job: How to Score a Job Before Your Friends. It’s worked for others, so it definitely could work for you!

How much money do you want to earn?

deciding on a careerBoring careers are boring careers, regardless of how much they pay. Still, choosing a career based on its earnings potential is a good way to guarantee yourself a financial future that’s lucrative and stable.

From medicine to law, certain fields tend to attract motivated people who earn high salaries – often salaries that are exponentially higher than those available in other, more personally fulfilling industries.

If you’re interested in becoming a financial success, choosing a career that pays well is a good strategy. However, most of the highest-paying careers require a great deal of educational and technical training, sometimes beginning right back in high school.

A lot of the time, the key to landing a high-paying job in a competitive field like law, medicine or finance is getting into the right college. This means understanding how tests like the SAT and ACT test influence your access to elite colleges.

Do you want to become a high-paid, influential executive, lawyer or doctor? Learn how to master the college admissions process and develop the track record for an  exclusive, high-paying career in our College Admission Success course.

What type of career freedom do you want?

deciding on a careerNot everyone is motivated by money. Sometimes, the best career is one that offers a greater degree of freedom to work when you want, how you want, and – for certain digital professionals – where you want.

If you’re interested in maximizing your professional freedom, the best strategy is to focus on acquiring skills that make you marketable as a freelance contractor, expert consultant or private coach.

Do you want to live overseas and work from anywhere? Do you want the freedom to work from home or your favorite café? If career freedom is your top priority, spend your educational experience amassing skills that make you a marketable consultant.

Becoming an independent freelancer or consultant isn’t easy, but it’s very possible with the right combination of knowledge, experience and marketing hustle. Become a Consultant in 5 Steps to jump start your consulting career.

Where do you want to live and work?

deciding on a careerDo you want to live in New York City? Would you like to live and work in a tropical destination like Hawaii or Costa Rica? The skills you acquire during your education and early career play a huge part in determining where you can work.

Some industries are extremely regional, making it essential that you give yourself an appropriate skillset if you want to find work there. Cities such as Milan and Paris are capitals of fashion, while cities like New York City and London are financial capitals.

Having the right skillset for the location is essential if you’d like to establish yourself as a professional in your dream city. Study your favorite cities carefully and discover the skills that are in demand to secure a lucrative career once you arrive.

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Can you reach out to a mentor for advice?

reflective teachingNot every career is as glamorous as television and movies might make it seem to be. It’s possible to earn a huge amount of money as a lawyer, for example, but only after spending an incredible amount of time completing repetitive, stressful work as an associate.

Reaching out to a mentor lets you learn the reality of a specific career path without the glitz and glamor that TV and movies can give it. A mentor can also offer useful advice to help you climb the corporate ladder at a faster pace than your peers.

Do you know anyone you could reach out to for career coaching and advice? From college professors to family friends, a wide variety of people may be happy to help you learn more about the realities and challenges of your dream career.

If you’re struggling to find a mentor, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Learn the keys to finding a reliable mentor who can offer expert advice and helpful career guidance in our course, Building Professional Relationships: Mentors and Networking.

Learn more about choosing the perfect career for you

Everyone has different goals and ambitions, and someone else’s dream career could be your career nightmare. Finding your dream career is a personal experience, but it’s also one that you can simplify with the right advice and reading material.

Our blog post on career clusters lets you learn more about your dream career as a part of its industry. If you’re over 40 and feel like changing careers, be sure to read our blog post on changing careers at 40 and above.