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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

8 Questions to Help You Choose a Career That Suits You

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8 Questions to Help You Choose a Career That Suits You

When it comes to choosing a career, there are plenty of factors. It is important to make the correct career choice since many people work more than they sleep.

By asking yourself these eight questions, you will be best positioned to choose a career that suits you.

1. Can This Career Support My Desired Lifestyle?

Your lifestyle is a combination of time and money. Depending on whether you have kids or wanting to travel, you will need a certain amount of time away from the office.

Does this mean your work needs to offer flex-options?

Sure, that is one way to make sure you have time for your family and leisure activities. You could also explore working four, 10-hour days or on a 9-month calendar. Once you understand the time aspect, you need to determine how much income you need to live your lifestyle.

If you want to travel or have a large family, you need a certain amount of money to afford that lifestyle. Depending on what matters to you the most, you can choose to sacrifice your time for a few years to afford more time later in your career, or you may prioritize chasing your passion and dream career.

The choices are vast, but you want to be intentional with how you spend your time and money. Studies show 78% of people are living paycheck to paycheck[1].

However, we know that 78% are not living in poverty. That number simply reflects the number of people who spend all the money that they make.

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2. Does This Career Challenge Me?

Imagine being a talented professional athlete and competing against kids in elementary school. Sure, you are going to win every match, but you will not feel the same satisfaction as if you were challenged by other talented professionals. Choosing a career requires you to gauge the opportunity for growth and advancement.

This is important because your chosen career will allow you to build new skills, attain additional education, and expand your knowledge base.

As you grow in your career, tasks that were once difficult will become easy. When this happens, you are left with two choices. You can coast for the rest of your career while only putting in minimal effort to get above average results. Or you can take on new challenges in areas where you are not guaranteed success.

The difficulty with this decision lies in our fear of failure. When you take on new challenges, there is going to be a learning curve that can create fear and self-doubt.

Do not allow your fear of the unknown to cause you to stay in your comfort zone.

3. Who Can Mentor Me?

You only know what you know, and if you want to know more, you will either have to experience it yourself or learn from someone else’s experiences.

By finding someone who is in the career you want to choose, you will have someone to ask and seek guidance from. They can share what they learned and tell you what it takes to build a career in a certain industry.

Will you need a certification or additional education? Will you be willing to move?

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Instead of waiting until you start your career to learn all these things, find a mentor who is a few steps ahead of you.

4. What Would I Do for Free?

Chasing money is one of the quickest ways to end up broke. Most careers are going to require more than the love of money to stick it out.

You probably know people who are making good money, and yet they are miserable. They work in a career where they feel like they are losing a piece of themselves every day.

The reason it is good to ask yourself what you would do for free is that your mind has an amazing ability to rationalize anything. What this means is you can find yourself in a toxic work relationship (or any relationship for that matter) because you have convinced yourself it is “not that bad”.

Instead of making yourself believe that you are doing what is necessary, allow yourself to imagine the career you would pursue for free.

5. Where Is My Line?

It would be nice to live in a world where everyone is ethical and trustworthy. However, you do not need me to tell you that this is not always the case.

If you find yourself in a compromising position, you must decide where your line is located.

You may recall the Veterans Administration was in the news because patients were waiting for 115-days to be seen. When the new mandate came down to create a 24-day wait time, the employees noted how they felt compelled to manipulate performance records to meet these ambitious goals.

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In a Harvard study, researchers discussed how good people are provoked to make bad choices. The reasons are:[2]

  1. When it is unsafe to speak up;
  2. There is excessive pressure to reach unrealistic performance targets;
  3. There are conflicting goals;
  4. When no positive example is being set.

You will surely face at least one of these four scenarios in your career, and you will be the one to decide for yourself if it is worth it.

6. Am I Continuing to Grow?

One of the most common reasons people disengage from their role is because they no longer feel like they are growing.

Choosing a career is more than making money and having job security, it is also about that feeling you are learning new things. You will notice low skilled careers tend to have a higher turnover rate. Of course, the lower wages that tend to accompany low skilled positions are a part of the decision-making process; it is also the mundane nature of doing the same thing every day.

Everyone likes being promoted and getting a raise, but those are just external recognition of your internal growth. Promotions feel best when you know you have earned it through the continual development of your skills and leadership.

7. Where Does My Personality Fit?

You can find plenty of information online about choosing a career based on your personality type.

Among the most referenced materials is the work of John Holland and the Holland Theory of Career Choice:[3].

“According to John Holland, there are six key categories that define the modern worker. His assessment offers a framework that considers career interest and pairs ideal environments for certain personalities that also play a role in job satisfaction and performance. The six types are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.”

For example, those who are Enterprising are most likely to lead and persuade, and as a result, this group would enjoy being a sales manager or attorney.

8. Where Do I Want to Live?

Choosing a career is going to have a direct impact on where you will live.

If you want to work on the floor of the stock market, you will find yourself living in New York and close to Wall Street. Large metropolitan areas tend to provide the best opportunity for careers in engineering. If you are not excited about working in places like Seattle, Boston, and Atlanta, then you may want to explore careers for more rural areas.[4]

If someone was interested in working in the tech industry, Silicon Valley is going to be on your list. This is not to say that opportunities in tech are not available anywhere else in the country, but you will have more opportunities in the tech industry if you live near Silicon Valley. The same holds true for broadcasting in New York and entertainment in Hollywood.

You must be strategic in where you choose to live to provide yourself the best opportunity to succeed. For those who would prefer to choose the location based on their kids or proximity to their family, you will want to examine which professions are prevalent in your area.

If you can find a company that has a local headquarters in your area, then you open up the opportunity to find a career that fits you.

Final Thoughts

These eight questions are a great starting point when it comes to choosing a career that suits you.

At different points in your life, your answers will change. You will desire to make more money, a change of scenery, or a simpler life so you can spend more time with loved ones.

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Regardless of the reason, if you start with these eight questions, you will be well-positioned to choose a career that suits your wants and needs.

Looking for More Career Guidance? Read These:

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on September 5, 2021

How To Be Proactive At Work: 7 Habits To Build

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How To Be Proactive At Work: 7 Habits To Build

I don’t know about you, but it was nearly impossible for me to be proactive at work last year.

Every week, I would map out my game plan and color-coded my calendar. But when I tried to set things in motion, I faced ten-foot barriers that would force me to change direction. I’d have to reschedule meetings, push deadlines back, and reorganize my life because of all the twists and turns. Pivoting became my life, and it was taking over every part of it.

When I think back to 2020, it was like trying to survive the Tour de France blindfolded. By the end of the year, I was worn out, and I was in no mood to organize my 2021 goals. Being proactive was the furthest from my mind. In many ways, I didn’t even want to dream about new projects.

When January 1st entered the scene, I crawled back under my covers and hoped for the best—or at least a year that would be more predictable with less pivoting.

You want to be hopeful for this year, but a part of you is afraid of another year filled with more barriers and you’re tired of trying to survive the chaos. You’re not alone.

Over 100,000 businesses have permanently shut their doors because of Covid-19.[1] Start-Ups aren’t getting a second chance.[2] And according to Pew Research, one in four adults still have a hard time finding money to pay their bills.[3]

This reality is not the most inspiring for those of us who are business leaders. If anything, it feels like the grim reaper is right around the corner to destroy our dreams and add us to the rising number of failed companies.

Being proactive is one of the most challenging things to muster right now. But it is one of the most imperative traits that we need to embrace.

But first, let’s be clear, what does being proactive mean?

Defining the Term “Proactive” In-Depth

The word proactive often floats around the workplace, usually by well-meaning managers asking employees or their team to, “Be more proactive!” But have you ever stopped to think about what that actually means?

The dictionary definition of proactive is, “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.”

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Being proactive is about dealing with any obstacles or challenges before they even happen. Simply put, a proactive person plans ahead.

For example, you’re buying an older home. The seller tells you that it has a sturdy foundation and an engineer confirms it. Most people would be satisfied with this answer.

A proactive person, however, would think beyond what’s presented and look into any potential issues. They may ask questions like, “How long is the lifespan of the foundation?”, “Is it earthquake ready?”, or “Does insurance cover the foundation?”

Depending on the answers, proactive people would respond accordingly and put safeguards in place to avoid these problems or minimise its impact. While it seems like a lot of resources and effort are spent at the beginning, it can actually lessen your stress and save you time and effort because you’re either preventing a problem or already have a solution at hand when the challenge arises.

This doesn’t mean that proactive people never have to put out fires on occasion. However, when you have a proactive mindset, most of the issues that come up seemingly out of left field are already something you’ve considered. And this makes you better equipped to handle situations calmly and enact a solution.

If you want your business to succeed this year, you need to be proactive at work. Situations around the world are constantly changing and you never know what the next month, year or even hour might bring and how it would affect your work. Planning ahead and preparing for the future is incredibly vital in our current climate.

Proactivity vs Reactivity

We can’t discuss proactivity without exploring the other side of the coin: Reactivity.

Being reactive is the complete opposite of being proactive. A reactive person doesn’t feel the need to address a problem until it’s already occurred. They simply react to a situation because it’s already there.

Spontaneity and the ability to address problems as they arise is important in leadership, and in life. After all, we cannot predict the future no matter how hard we try. But oftentimes reactive people encounter problems because they refuse to take action even though there have been warning signs of imminent trouble.

Reactivity also comes from a place of panic. Because you have not thought or planned ahead, you react instantaneously. You may not offer the best solution because you haven’t had time to fully review the situation, and maybe even create more problems.

It won’t be easy, but it will be a lot easier with the following practical habits that I’ve put together for you. These tools will make all the difference for you and your organization.

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7 Practical Habits to Turn Reactivity into Proactivity

Even proactive people can exhibit reactive behavior. No one is perfect and the corporate and business world can be unpredictable. But you can turn things around and be proactive even when you have not anticipated challenges that face you. Here are some tips:

1. Don’t Be Busy

Repeat after me: only do what is necessary—no more and no less.

If you’re anything like me, as soon as January 1st comes along, you cram in all your five-year goals into one packed year. You love seeing your schedule filled. But being busy isn’t the same as being productive. Being proactive requires you to take a step back, reevaluate your priorities, and actually take things off of your plate before adding new goals.

The brain is not designed to always operate at full capacity twenty-four hours a day.[4] It needs a break. If we’re constantly immersing ourselves throughout the day with frivolous tasks, then we don’t have time to concentrate on our goals.

This year, I’m taking a break from the chaos and learning to do fewer tasks with more investment.

Think of it this way. Planning takes time. It’s like painting an apartment. Before you can add color to the drab walls of your living room, you have to plan and prep the area. The same is true for being proactive at work.

2. Stop Trying to Run Everyone’s Race

If you want to direct the narrative of your life, you need to take a step back and get rid of the clutter. Figure out what you can delegate and then, focus your energy away from the distractions. Not every email needs a reply, and not every job is right for you.

Shakespeare said it best,[5]

“To thine own self be true.”

These six words need to become your mantra.

If you want to reach your goals this year and be proactive, you need to walk forward with laser focus. If you compare yourself or your business to the next big thing, you won’t contribute anything except a lesser copy of yourself and your organization.

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Part of being proactive is being creative. You have to be able to see the different angles and nuances in a situation or project in order to anticipate potential issues and come up with creative solutions. If you’re constantly looking over someone else’s work, you’re not focusing on what’s in front of you. And you could end up missing a lot of obstacles that you could’ve avoided if you were paying attention.

Stop looking around. Your purpose is not to run the race of someone else. If you want to be proactive at work, you need to stop comparing yourself to your neighbor and stick to running your own race. It’s the only way that you’ll win.

3. Make “Essentialism” Your 2021 Word

When you’re figuring out your 2021 goals, take time to weigh the cost. Ask yourself if it’s worth the investment. Being proactive means that you take into consideration all the variables before cementing your goals.

Before you map out your plan or get crazy with those highlighters, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Will this goal help create balance in my life?
  • Will this goal produce a return on investment?

If you can answer a resounding “yes” to both of these questions, then take these ideas and write them down on a piece of paper.

After you’ve compiled a list of 15 to 20 ideas, take a new sheet of paper and break it into two columns. The first section should contain a list of goals that take priority. These ideas would fall under the umbrella of being trend-related and financially profitable.

The second section should contain a list of goals that will increase your social proof and promote your priority goals. This column drives traffic and promotes awareness of your business and your product.

After you’ve compiled this list, break it in half and cut it down to three goals in each section. Three is the perfect number because it gives you leeway to pivot and bend if you need to make changes throughout the process.

The two excellent tools that have helped me develop a schedule of essentialism are Hilary Rushford’s Elegant Excellence Journal[6] and Jill Konrath’s book, “More Sales. Less Time.

Both of these tools have helped me focus on what’s important, make the best decisions for my business, and make a profit without sacrificing my health.

4. Order the Same Latte

When you look at the greats in the business world, they all encompass one thing: simplicity.

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If you minimize your choices and stick to the basics, you’ll have the ability to save time and focus your energy on decisions that require your creativity. Keeping up with the latest fashion trends not only sacrifices your time but also sacrifices your budget.

Remember, it’s not about looking successful. It’s about making choices that give you the ability to be successful.

Here are four things that you can do to save time to make you more proactive at work:

  • Buy multiples of the same outfit and mix and match throughout the week.
  • Order the same drink each day from the same coffee shop.
  • Prepare meals at the beginning of the week for lunch and dinner.
  • Set your alarm for the same time each morning, including weekends.

5. Don’t Pressure Yourself to Respond Immediately

It’s okay to be surprised or be blindsided. Sometimes things just happen that is out of your control. What you are in control of, however, is your reaction. There’s nothing wrong with not having a solution or response at hand. It’s okay to take a step back and think about it first before responding.

6. Put a Pin on It

If you find yourself being unable to come up with a good solution, you can put a pin on it. You may want to address another matter first, one you already know how to deal with. It may give you inspiration and confidence when you come back to your other issues. Unless of course the imminent problem is fire outside your door.

7. Prioritize What’s Important

The thing with problems that come up suddenly, is that they may have already caused damage you can’t reverse. You have to learn to accept the situation and instead of trying to solve the unsolvable, prioritize what’s important, see what you can salvage and take note of lessons that will help you in the future.

It’s impossible to be proactive if you feel rushed. But if you follow the above tips, you’ll gain more time in your schedule and have more energy to lead your business and operate with a well-organized game plan.

Final Thoughts

I think the majority of us are tired of feeling like we’re contestants in Survivor. After all, who wants to be filmed while living in the woods and surviving off of bugs and tree bark?

All kidding aside. This past year has been challenging. But we can learn a lot from these past twelve months.

If you want to be proactive, simplify your schedule, focus on your path, only take what you need, and be purposeful with your time and energy. Being proactive is not about filling up your schedule. It’s about creating balance in your life.

I know it seems daunting right now, and many of us are still trying to figure out how to pay this month’s rent with spare change from the couch. But if you take the time to prepare and figure out what’s a priority this year, you’ll not only meet your goals, you’ll enjoy the journey.

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You have all the tools you need to be proactive at work. Now, go map out your 2021 goals for the year!

More Tips on How to Be Proactive

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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