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How To Pick A Career That’s Right For You

It’s easy to look at someone else’s career and think wow, that’s what I want to do. But what you are looking at is only a small picture of what their life is like, and there is no promise that you will ever achieve what they have.

A grass-is-greener mentality is common in the workforce, but be careful! Choosing what you do for the rest of your life (Or at least the rest of the year) is an important decision, and make sure you have all the facts.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for a major career change, keep these tips in mind when you make the jump.

You’re Not Picking a Job. You’re Picking a Life

Being a famous singer sounds amazing, right? You choose the shows you want to sing at, the crowds you are in front of, and you’re going to different events or awards every night. Sounds awesome.

But think about what it takes for you to get there. Late nights in dark clubs, spending your last dollar on something for your guitar so you can play a show, sleeping in your car while on ‘tour’. It isn’t glamorous, and if you aren’t completely dedicated, it won’t pay off.

So maybe a startup is something you’re interested in. High pay, make your own product, be your own boss. There are stories every day about 20 and 30-somethings coming out of silicone valley with millions from their latest startup.

But it is long, long hours. 12 to 14-hour days every day, without an end in sight. Your finances could end up ruined because everything financially related to the business is on your shoulders. And at the end of it, the odds are your startup is going to fail, leaving with you with no money, no job, and no credit to speak of.

Don’t just pick a career because you think it’s a great idea or you like the sound of it. Pick the life you want to live, too. A lawyer is awesome, but 14-hour days 6 days a week in a library to get there? That might suck. And most lawyers wouldn’t recommend their job to others anyway, according to studies by the bar.

There Is No Harm in Saying No, This Isn’t Working

This isn’t the 1950s, where you choose a job and you work there until you die. People are job hopping all the time for any number of reasons, and you can do it too.

Don’t be afraid to spend six months or a year in a position or field just to realize you hate it and want out. That’s okay! You can write your resume to show you learned skills or focus at that position, and few interviewers will fault you for discovering it’s not a good fit and you backed out.

Don’t overcommit, though. That’s a big deal! A graduate program that is only good for one job or field is a great idea if you know that you love that position. Discovering after putting yourself in debt and dedicating a ton of time to it isn’t great.

Don’t Believe Everything You See and Play to Your Strengths

This touches on point one, but don’t believe everything you see. There is ‘hype’ surrounding big jobs or ‘important’ careers, like doctors and lawyers. Right now engineers are getting a big boost in visibility, along with majors in computer science. But do you want to sink $80k into a degree that you end up hating?

You know yourself better than anyone. If you can’t picture yourself sitting in a small office for 8 hours a day working at a computer, maybe becoming a software engineer isn’t your true calling. If you love the outdoors and science, maybe a career that can combine those two will lead to profit.

This isn’t simply the do what you love advice that is so cliché. Doing what you love is great, but chances are it won’t pay the bills – and if it does, you’ll be so sick of it you won’t love it anymore. Instead, this advice is to play to your strengths and find a career you can enjoy and find fulfillment with.

It won’t always be on the first try, but it is out there somewhere for you.