Some people seem to know their dream career path since childhood. While this is a wonderful thing, the truth is that for most people, it’s not reality. Social media often floods us with imagery and messages that show mostly successes, including people who land their “dream jobs.”
Finding a career path is something to celebrate, but if you feel lost or even clueless about what you want in a career, you are not alone. In fact, according to skillcrush, 60% of millennials are looking to change jobs, and this is only one generation! It can be confusing and exhausting trying to navigate a career path when you have no idea where to begin.
Today, HJG Staffing is breaking down how to find your career path with subsequent tips on finding general satisfaction in your personal journey.
1. Not All Jobs are “Dream Jobs”
It’s important to remember that your job may not be the primary source of your joy and satisfaction, especially at first. If you’re lucky enough to find your “dream” career immediately, it’s a wonderful feat. However, sometimes the mindset that a job should be a “dream come true” is not always realistic. It can even be detrimental to your mental well-being. In fact, in the post-Covid world, just 7% of workers say they have a dream job (CNBC).
It’s important to remember that you should NOT be miserable at a job. If you’re able to make changes in a negative job space, start there. If the job continues to be a major source negativity and stress, consider finding a new path.
On the other hand, if your job maintains a healthy environment and you can garner some satisfaction and fulfillment, this is a positive. Hayley, a therapist, says, “A lot of my clients feel an emptiness because they feel they should be working a “dream” job. However, many of these people don’t know what their dream job would be, or it will take time to get there. I work on helping them shift their perspective.”
Sometimes, a simple shift of mindset can be the solution. A job can just be a job with some fulfilling and satisfying aspects. “Finding enjoyment in hobbies, relationships and outside activities can and often should be the main source of enjoyment and fulfillment,” Hayley adds.
It’s admirable to work towards your goals and ideal career, but for those of us who are unsure, it’s okay to have a job for the sake of paying the bills and supporting your lifestyle.
2. Take a Career Aptitude Test
Luckily, the internet provides free assessments that can help you determine your strengths and potential career paths. If you feel stuck, these tests can give insight into potential jobs that suit your personality and interests.
Simply googling “Free Career Aptitude Test” can be a simple start in receiving some clarity. Typically, at the end of a test, a list of potential fitting career options is provided, allowing you to see the jobs in which you might succeed and enjoy. Sometimes, these tests provide options you would have never thought about otherwise, sparking inspiration.
There are other free online assessments that can serve as a guide. For instance, taking a quiz that assesses your personal values can show what matters most to you. Santiago, a Physical Education teacher, felt confused about his career path. “I knew I loved sports and working with disabled children. Taking inventory of my values helped me realize that I was called to have a career that served others.” Ultimately, these assessments can help you see what matters most to you and what areas in life you might excel.
3. Try Jobs on For Size
The truth is that many people didn’t know what career they would have until they gained experience. “I started as a teacher, thinking this was what I would do for my entire life,” says Kaitlyn. “After 4 years, I realized that teaching was not for me. Now I work in school administration.” Many people discover what they do and don’t want in a job simply through experience. Even people who went into a career path thinking it was their dream find out that it wasn’t.
Similarly, certain tasks and responsibilities at a job can provide insight into what you may want to do. “I started in sales and while I liked promoting the products, I hated the constant talking to people,” says Jenna. “It helped me realize that I would rather market the products than actively sell. them”
Gaining knowledge and insight comes directly from experience, so remind yourself that your experience can act as a guide.
4. Try an Internship:
Like trying different jobs, working an internship can offer useful insight. Internships are typically catered towards college-aged individuals, but this doesn’t mean older individuals can’t apply. “When I was 25, I was working in retail,” says Dominic. “I saw a marketing internship posted and applied. I still worked my retail job and worked 2 days a week at the internship. Now I work in marketing full time.”
Internships are a fabulous way to learn new skillsets. They often come with a mentor, so you can ask questions and have a reference for learning. Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking and scary for many. However, an internship can act as a segue from skill-building and learning to a full-time career.
Of course, internships, like jobs, can also show what you don’t want to do. A bonus when it comes to interning is that the skills and experience can be added to your resume.
5. Remember: Comparison is the Thief of Joy
We are constantly flooded with success stories. While success is absolutely something to celebrate, we never fully know what’s going on behind the scenes. Just because a post on social media appears to depict the “perfect life,” we don’t truly know the struggles of other people.
Even if your friends or peers have established careers, that doesn’t mean you’re any less successful. We all grow and evolve at different rates, and a steady job doesn’t always equal success and well-being. It is important to remind yourself that your path is your own and you’re doing your best every day.
Some of the most successful individuals did not find their path until well into their lifetime. For instance, Julia Child, the famous chef, published her very first cookbook at age 50. Vera Wang, famously known for her clothing designs, entered the fashion field at 40.
This goes to show that success isn’t determined by age or job. Sometimes, it can take a while to learn what we want in life, and that’s okay. Sometimes, a job is just a job, and that’s okay too. The important thing to remember is that if you’re in a safe and healthy environment and you find fulfillment outside of work, you are succeeding already!