1) Your Hobbies
Think about what you like to do in your free time and what you're good at. Do you like working with your hands? With your mind? Are you good with people? Do you prefer being alone? Do you coach a team or tutor kids? Spend time outdoors in nature? Do you like numbers? Puzzles? Writing? Particular kinds of video games? There are careers out there that make use of your skills and interests…and sometimes they're not obvious. As an example, just because you're a great little league coach doesn't mean you should be a professional coach. But you do embrace leadership skills, which apply to a variety of careers and can guide you in your career search. Maybe you love music – you can work for an ad agency, or a theater, represent musicians, open a music club, work for a non-profit to get instruments into schools…Or maybe you love sports statistics – you can become an accountant or a mortgage banker or work for a sports team….You just need to do some research to connect the dots.
2) Your Values
What's important to you? Is it having lots of free time? Lots of money? Having a big family? Following a dream? Living in the city? The country? The suburbs? Living overseas? All of these things play a role in the career opportunities that will fit you and be available to you. For example, if you're obsessed with the auto industry but are set on living near your ranch in Wyoming, you probably have to choose one or the other. If you want to live in New York City and have five kids, you're probably going to have to choose a career where you can make a lot of money. To find the right career, it's important to be in touch with your values.
3) The Type of Life You Want
Do you want a conventional life where you stay on one path, live in one city and settle down young to start a family? Or do you want an adventurous life where you take big risks, chase big ideas, and frequently change cities? The adventurous path may be more likely to blur job and life together. For example, if you're a war photographer or a rock musician, your career and life kind of become one. If you know you want a conventional life, you can generally rule out careers like these. At the same time, if you know you want an adventurous life, you can probably rule out most office jobs. It's always possible to be a librarian by day and a traveling cliff diver on weekends, but it really comes down to where you want to find your adventure every day.
4) Your Favorite & Best Classes At School
What classes always felt like fun to you? What classes came to you so naturally that they just seemed easy? Are you great at science? Math? Or do you hate science and math but love English classes? If you hate science and math but love English classes, you can probably rule out careers like doctor, scientist and economist. But you can consider things like teacher, lawyer and other communications-based careers. Analyzing what classes fit you is a great step towards finding the right career.
5) What You're Willing To Sacrifice
The expression "nothing comes for free" exists for a reason. If you're a young, corporate lawyer or investment banker getting paid the big bucks, you're probably going to have close to zero free time. If you're an airline pilot or a truck driver, you're probably going to be spending a lot of time away from home. If you want to become a college professor, you're going to be in school a long time to get that PhD. If you want to be a famous actress, you're going to have to humiliate yourself at casting calls and tryouts where your talents and looks will be picked apart by a panel of others. What is your threshold for all of this? It helps to ask this question and be in touch with what you're willing to sacrifice for your career. Sometimes it's tough to know in advance, but the sooner you can figure it out the more you can avoid the tough discoveries that come from learning your career exceeds your threshold after you've settled into a path.
About the author
Finding the right career and the career planning process can be tricky, but you'll find lots of help at http://CareersOutThere.com. Careers Out There is a video interview show that helps you in every episode by profiling a different type of career. Our guests are real professionals who work in each career path and tell us what their jobs are really like, how you can break in and how to succeed once you're there. I'm Marc Luber, the author of this article and the host of the show. I look forward to seeing you there and helping you out – so click over to Careers Out There so we can start helping you now.