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I Have 8 Ideas to Spot Your Ideal Career Path. Do You Have 5 Minutes?

I Have 8 Ideas to Spot Your Ideal Career Path. Do You Have 5 Minutes?

Some grow up knowing exactly which career path they want to take while others just can’t seem to figure it out. Maybe you’ve been in the same profession for years and you’re looking to get into something else, but you’re just not sure what. We’d all love to find our calling early on in life and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that is rarely what happens. If you’re struggling to decide which career path is right for you, here are some ideas to help ease the stress.

Take the Tests to Find Out What Excites You

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s something that you’re going to enjoy. Make sure you won’t dread getting out of bed every day. It’s not as difficult as it seems. Sit down, think about the things that you genuinely enjoy doing and write them down. Having a passion for something isn’t the only thing required when discovering a career path, but it’s certainly an essential part. When you thoroughly enjoy something, it’ll definitely help you power through the bad days.

If you need some help, try taking the free personality test below. It requires you to really think about what you enjoy and to evaluate yourself. When completed, you’ll be given a list of different professions based on your answers:

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Big Five Personality Test

The next test asks a series of 60 questions about different things you could see yourself doing. Such as working with people or working with spreadsheets on a computer. At the end of the test you’ll be given a list of professions that you may enjoy just like the test above:

My Next Move Career Test

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Use the G+P+V Formula for Perfect Match

  • G-Gifts
  • P-Passions
  • V-Values

“Gifts” means to consider your strengths. Start by thinking about what you’re good at and writing it down. “Passions” means to think about what excites you. Do you enjoy helping other people, working alone, solving problems? Lastly, “values” is really all about your personality and lifestyle. What about the way you work is nonnegotiable? When you use your strengths towards what you’re invested in, a path that supports your values will lead you to a career that you genuinely enjoy.

Find a Mentor to Clear All Your Confusion

Having a mentor is extremely beneficial when figuring out which career path is best for you. They could really help you take your career to new heights. It’s like having an insider to talk with about the career and make sure you’re on the right path. If you’re unsure how to ask someone to be your mentor, try this: when you find a career that you’re interested in, explore different companies and people to see if you’re able to shadow for a few days. This will give you a better idea of what you’ll be doing in that line of work.

Take a Look at the Options You Have Never Considered

There are popular careers that we all know about such as being a teacher, doctor, lawyer, etc. For some, those typical choices may not peak your interest in the slightest. There are thousands upon thousands of jobs out there. Many you probably have not heard about. Take a look at these unusual jobs from Business Insider.

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You Don’t Have to Hop Between Full-Time Jobs, Internships Can Be Your Choice

If you have some flexibility, an internship is an awesome way to get first-hand experience in the field of work you’re looking to get into. As the internship comes to a close, you may be able to score a full-time job. It may help you discover that you’re on the wrong career path which is okay. Something positive comes from both outcomes. Either way, it’ll help build your network and introduce you to people who you can get career and job advice from.

Prepare a Clear Career Plan to Stop Yourself from Distracted

As with a lot of things in life, it will be more beneficial if you have some plans made and goals set for yourself. Maybe you’ve thought about becoming a writer, but after writing comes editing and you’re not sure that’s what you want to do. Maybe you’ve been a nurse for years, and you’d like to become a florist. It’s important to think about how you’re going to get there.

Make a map planning out where you want to go with steps, possible obstacles, and goals.

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Take Aptitude Tests to Understand Your Interest and Strengths

You may be sitting there thinking that you don’t know what interests you or what your strong suits are. Personality and career assessment tests help narrow down careers that you may enjoy, and are at least worth looking into. You may have taken them in high school so you could start thinking about what you’d like to do. Maybe you took one in college when you started to rethink whether or not the major you chose was a good fit. This one from Oprah’s website includes 5 aptitude tests on the first page. You can download and complete each one. When finished, head over to page two to see your results and what they mean.

Make Use of the Resources You Have

There’s no harm in reaching out to people. One of the best ways to find a career path is to talk with and ask people questions about their field of work. It will give you a little insight when you’re unsure what the job entails. Another great outlet to look into and take advantage of is LinkedIn. It has tons of information about a laundry list of professions, and you have the option to message people when you have some questions. Take a look at this site which lists many different careers and what they entail. It’s a great resource to use when researching.

Look at You career As a Stepping Stone

A career isn’t about racing to the top. Look at your career as if it were a marathon. Instead of a sprint, learn to enjoy all the twists and turns, all the ups and the downs that you encounter along the way. When you put all of your experiences together, you will find a career worth having.

Figuring out and deciding what career path you want to take may be long, frustrating, and difficult. It’s impossible to know if you’re going to enjoy what you choose to do twenty years down the line, but it’s important to think about the here and now. What do YOU enjoy? Choosing a particular career does not mean you have to spend the rest of your life in that profession. Explore all of your options and have fun doing your research. Knowledge is power!

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Erica Wagner

Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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