If you are here, reading this article, it is evident that you are somewhat confused about your career. But, do not stress much, it is not only you. It is many of us. Even the ones already settled and having successful careers often encounter such situations.
However, you do not need to seek any expert’s advice to get over this phase. You already have the best solution to this confusion.
You only need to self-reflect.
Bonus: Here’s the best reflective model that I always follow!
Learning researcher Graham Gibbs presents the stages of a full structured debriefing as follows:
But that’s just part of the story…
Below are some simple questions that you need to ask yourself and find out the answers you always had but never realized.
What are my interests?
When making career choices, most students will say “I want to do something interesting”.
Yes, it is true that no matter what you do, if hard work and perseverance are involved, triumphs are bound to happen. But, doing anything of your interest only works as a catalyst.
You may find the following quiz useful to identify your interest: What Career Is Right For Me?
Now, as a matter of fact, it is not possible to transform every other interest into a career. Interest is a broader term and includes general interests from traveling and dancing to specific interests such as programming and designing.
However, as this is the beginning of the process, it is better if this question gets impromptu answers. Any and everything that comes to your mind spontaneously on hearing this question comprises the answer. Later on, you can narrow your list to your most favorites.
What others think I do the best?
With best here, I mean, not the best in the world, but the best among all the things that you do.
To find an answer to this you can recall the compliments that you usually get. You might have heard things like, “you have a melodious voice,” “you are brilliant at Mathematics,” “you write so well,” etc. These recollections will help you understand what your strengths, skills or talents are.
Besides, you can also ask your friends, parents, or teachers to answer this for you, if only; they are not biased about imposing their choices on you. The answer to this question might significantly vary from the answer to the first one. However, I am sure you will find at least one thing in common.
What sort of life do I fancy living?
Like people have different interests, talents, and skills, they have different life goals.
For some of us, it might be a lavish life, where we do not see ourselves compromising on any of the luxuries. For some, it might be a family life with a decent monthly income, or for yet another group of people, it might be a life where they get enough time to travel across the world. To know our long term goals gives us a direction to follow.
What career options are in alignment with my interests and goals?
To be specific, what are the job opportunities available out there that would help you live your interest, in alignment with your life goals? In the haste of moving ahead in the race, we often neglect our long-term goals and try to pounce on every other option that seems to satisfy us in the short run, and repent about it later.
However, if you narrow your options keeping in mind both your short and long-term goals, you will always have a clearer vision. Now, though I initially said that we are talking about self-reflection, this one will need a thorough research as well.
Am I hurrying up?
Whenever you learn about a new and fascinating career prospect from any of the sources around you, you get excited, you feel it is perfect for you, you should enroll in this course right away, isn’t it?
But, this excitement, in many cases, is transient. Initially, we pay attention only to the good parts of it, however, gradually, as the time passes we learn about the difficulties involved.
If your answer to this question is a yes, please reconsider your options. Though it would never be too late for you to make a career change, none of your actions can be “easily” undone.
Do I know what does this career demand?
Each and every option available to you has certain positive and negative aspects. Knowing only the potential salary package and growth is not enough. Before you come to any conclusion, you need to consider, the things like, how physically and mentally demanding it is, how long would be the working hours, how long would I need to stay away from home, etc.
This will help you understand the feasibility of any particular option.
Who are the people around me living an ideal life?
Do you have someone around you, who walked the same path/s that you are considering to follow? If yes, what are the things about their life/lives that fascinate you? Do you wish to be leading such life?
Further, you can go and talk to such people and gain an insight of how their work life is like, how balanced their professional and personal lives are, how satisfied are they with their life. Such people are the best source to understand how it is like when you actually get to work.
To make a point!
Do not follow the herd, but carve your own way. I understand it is a demanding task, but, don’t stress yourself too much. As long as you are honest with your decision, and endeavoring in the right direction, you will never fail.
As said by Benjamin Franklin, “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.