How to Choose a Career

Working out what you want to do with your life is a pretty big question, so it is understandable if you’re not exactly 100% sure what career you want to pursue. Your experience of the working world might be limited, or you simply might not have the first clue what you want to do. However, as your time to leave school or college gets nearer you will find more and more people asking you about your future. There will be questions over what you want to do – whether that is going to university, doing some vocational training, or perhaps looking for work right away. The whole thing would be so much easier if you knew what you wanted to do for a living – with a set career goal you could work backwards, seeing which qualifications you might need to get there. So how do you actually go from not knowing what you want to do to finally finding that dream job?

You could look at some well-worn career advice – such as this often-used quote:

“Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” - Confucius

Is this quote even real? To be honest, I don’t know, but since it is so often thrown around in some form or another – it seems like a good place to start. The idea being that, if you do something you love it will never feel like work is a lovely one. Simply follow your heart and the rest will follow, right?

Well, maybe not quite.

While it is a lovely ideal this Confucius quote can, quite frankly, cause confusion. You see, if you find all your time looking for that dream job that means you never have to “work a day in your life,” there is a chance you will never find it. There may not be a job that you love every aspect of out there (or at least within your current reach). A job may have some aspects you enjoy and others that you don’t like – it is all a question of compromise. How much are you willing to balance your ideal career off against less desirable parts of your job?

This is particularly important when you are just starting out. Often you will be starting near the bottom of the career ladder, and as a junior employee you will probably not yet be getting all the perks, while also having to do some of the more menial work around the place too.

But, as you progress through your career, gaining experience and skills, you will find better opportunities opening up to you and your ‘dream’ career coming into view.

Even if you don’t have a set ‘dream career’ it is still a great ideal to work towards, which brings us back to the question of how to choose it.

It seems that Confucius was onto something with that quote, but that perhaps it needs a little adjusting to match up with reality. Rather than looking for a perfect job right away, understand that you may have to trade off with some less enjoyable tasks in order to get yourself moving forward. Just as the trainee hairdresser has to sweep the floors before progressing to owning their own business, so you might have to work your way up. However, if you can find a job or area of work that interests you, you will be on the right path. Besides, you can always change direction later.

So, perhaps, Confucius’ much-quoted quote should instead read, “Choose a job doing something you like and at least you won’t hate everything about your work while you grow your career.”

Except that isn’t quite as catchy as Confucius’ version!

You might also like:

Some ‘Anti-Career’ Creative Career Advice

Looking For Work? 5 Hints To Help You Find A Job

Are You Employable? (It Takes More Than Just Grades!)

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