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How to Keep From Picking the Wrong Career

Topics: Career Advice
Happy Workers
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What do you want to be when you grow up? Is it the same dream you had when you were 10? Or even 10 years ago?

The reality of the modern world is that we tend to change careers faster than we change our minds about fashion (high-waisted jeans anyone?). If you feel like maybe the career you’ve chosen isn’t the right one for you, don’t fret! You can pick a new career that doesn’t make you mad or sad.

To begin, start by asking yourself some personal questions:

1. Does this career make me happy?

Seems straightforward enough, right? Your job might be just a minor part of your “career” choice, especially if you’re just starting out. So you might not like being the junior member of the team, and you dream of being the boss, but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean you’ve chosen the wrong career path. If you’re unhappy at the bottom, what would it take for you to move up the ladder? Is it possible with your given education and skill set? If not, then work toward making changes that would help you rise up.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

If the whole situation doesn’t rock your world, or if you’ve lost your love for the career you’re dealing with, then there’s a larger issue at hand. It’s time to make a list. Yup. Old school.

2. What are the pros and cons of your ideal career?

Whether it’s your current career or a totally different one, start by making a simple pro/con assessment of everything you know about the career. What is good about it? Maybe the pay is great or the hours work best with your lifestyle. What’s bad? Is it hard to find training opportunities or difficult to find open positions? It’s a matter of personal preferences paired with pragmatic real life truths that you have to assess to find your balance in any career.

3. If you could create your own new career, what would that look like?

Can’t figure out what you want to do? Start making a self-assessment of what you’re looking for at this point in your life. Maybe your life has changed and you can no longer manage a 40-hour week (or an 80-hour week) like you could when you were 25. Perhaps you dream of being your own boss and running the show from home, instead of spending hours a week commuting to an office in the city. Maybe you’d like to tackle new skills or new technical concepts that get you excited about work. If your current career isn’t feeding your passions, it could be time to make a switch, but only you can determine what’s working and what’s not.

4. What career options are available to you?

Money and time are always a factor in our lives. If you’re nearing retirement, it might be impractical to decide to start a new career that will require many years of training at great expense. If you’re just starting out, dreaming of being a CEO might not be the easiest career move either (though chase that dream!). BUT, if you’re thinking of making a switch to something like moving to another department in your company, or a competitor’s new innovative division. That change could be eminently do-able, and the rewards could be quick to reap.

5. Are you ready for change?

No matter what, changing careers can be scary. Having savings in the bank and a personal support system by way of friends and family can be the best way to make sure that the shake up isn’t felt too long or hard. Networking starts at home, so make sure you’re using any and all connections you might have to make a new career a reality for yourself. And get happy! Life’s definitely too short to be unhappy at work.


Have you changed careers? We want to hear about it! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.