Categorized | Career

Making Sound Career Choices

Posted on 11 November 2008

I’ve heard it a hundred times: “The career counselor went through several tests and assessments with me. We looked at personality, behavior, skills and abilities, aptitude, and interests. She told me several career directions I could take. So I know what careers I can do, but I still don’t know what I want!”

How could this happen? Why do so many people experience career indecision?

Workers who don’t know what they want are out of touch–with who they really are and with the things that truly matter to them. Their thoughts, beliefs, and values are elusive; they cannot identify the things that uniquely motivate and define them. After all, how can we know what we want if we don’t really know who we are?

If your whole life is riding on choosing the right career, the choice may seem impossible.

Some career choice candidates reach the decision point and just get stuck in indecision. This is no failure on the counselor’s part. No one can tell you what you want, not even the best career counselor or coach! “Wanting” is an inside job. You must know your inner self first, then make a committed career choice based on that.

Perception vs. Reality
A certain amount of self-discovery is essential to this process. The inability to make a career choice proves one thing: A gap exists between who you think you are (and what you think you want) and who you really are (and what you really want.)

Career choice thus becomes a reason to look again, to find the “you” you want. In Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow, author Marsha Sinetar makes a key point. Before we can choose to do what we love, we first must choose for ourselves. Only then can one make an authentic career choice. But this idea goes further back. As the German poet Goethe, in an essay titled Commitment, reminds us: The moment we definitely commit to a choice, all of providence will move to help us. But we must tell the truth about who we are and what we want.

We must learn to trust our choices, too. Best-selling author Marianne Williamson, in her book Return from Love claims that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but powerful beyond measure. So sometimes it just feels safer to say: “I don’t know what I want.”

Reconnect With Your Inner Self
If you truly feel unable or unwilling to make a career decision, here are some things you can do to ease the process along:

  • Pay attention to your inner self. Start noticing your thoughts and feelings as you go through each day. We tend to look the other way when these feelings come up–but that’s what creates the disconnect. So pay attention to yourself. Meditation can help here. Sit quietly for five minutes, twice each day, and concentrate on your breathing. Notice your thoughts, acknowledge them, and stay focused on your breath.
  • Start with your next job. There is no need to settle your whole life today. Just narrow down the career choices in front of you; it’s enough to choose your next best step.
  • Turn career choice inside-out. Rather than look for what’s out there, look at what you have and who needs that the most. Then consider how that matches up with the issues and industries you like. “Inside-out” thinking can clarify a career starting point.
  • Re-think the purpose of career. If we choose the right career, we think, our whole life will suddenly fall into place. But that’s not true: Career is no silver bullet–it’s just a career. If your whole life is riding on choosing the right career, the choice may seem impossible.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Resume Tips says:

    A good start is definitely to make a list of the things you love, then list possible careers in those areas. I am a firm believer in Marsha Sinetar’s “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.” You will be spending the vast majority of time at work, so you don’t want to spend it doing something you don’t care about. This is a recipe for disaster. I also think the following is excellent advice as well: “Start with your next job. There is no need to settle your whole life today. Just narrow down the career choices in front of you; it’s enough to choose your next best step.”

    Resume to Referral
    Resume and Career Services
    http://www.resumetoreferral.com

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