Many people do jobs, not to be happy primarily, but to; put exotic food like hoc nau an on the table, have clothes to wear, pay the bills etc. which, for the most part, are wrong reasons but a necessary evil.
A job is what you do to get paid, not essentially what you do to be happy, but more about financial security. A career on the other hand is any chosen pursuit involving your interests, knowledge and skills; which may either involve different unrelated jobs in the same field or similar jobs in different fields. A career is a lifetime journey for creating and making good use of your skills, knowledge and experience, integrated into all the activities, events and relationships in your life.
So is it possible to have a career you find fulfilling and still earn a good pay? Be able to feed your kids fat, travel around the world at the snap of your fingers or basically enjoy life as far as your imagination takes you? Yes I’d say.
Research has it that the average worker will switch career 6-10 times in his lifetime. Not jobs, careers. That’s approximately 40 jobs in a lifetime. I believe it’s a slight exaggeration but it’s nothing out of this world. We are humans with insatiable needs and we would go any length to find a more satisfying life as long as we still have options.
A fulfilling career doesn’t happen by wishful thinking and it is usually different from the baby dreams and aspirations you had while you were much younger. Your definition of a fulfilling career determines how far you’ll go in your career endeavour.
Here are some of thoughts on steps to defining a career path:
- Outline your interests and skills: It’s a clichéd tip but very true. You can’t have a fulfilling career doing something you don’t love. Why else would a top executive in a large corporation quit his job to take a teaching job? It’s nothing more than where his passion lies. Ask people you interact with on a daily basis; family, friends, colleagues, schoolmates, to give you clues on the kinds of job roles or careers you fit into and the ones that’ll fit you as well (they are two different things). This’ll give you an ideal picture of the different work environments you can fit into and also serve as a guide to preparing you towards a career in those different aspects.
- Do a thorough research: You can’t get a fulfilling job without possessing the requisite skills for the job. With a list of your interests and skills, find out what roles or job positions require those skills and do a checklist on the skills you already possess. An adequate research gives you a Google – Earth view of your preferred career choice, it zooms in on what employers expect candidates with your skill sets to deliver and helps you wrap your mind around the skills you need to acquire for jobs of your interest. Use this chart as a start point.
- Be Real: You can’t have it all but you can have it well enough. Don’t get caught up in the world of a perfectionist; give a specific, realistic definition of what an ideal career would be for you. This is what guides your job search and defines your level of job satisfaction. Avoid making lofty decisions on the kinds of jobs you deserve. Do not try to force fit all your skills into a job. Rather than list out specific jobs to match your skills and interests, identify a range of unrelated jobs to allow you explore those skills and also help you discover how you adapt in different work situations.
Finding a career that’s truly satisfying is not a smooth ride and it varies with individuals. Some get there fast while others take longer. Dare to take risks (calculated ones), It’s alright to play safe by treading carefully but you may never know how gratifying or rewarding an adventurous career pursuit might be.
There are no fixed rules to marking out a fulfilling career, it all starts and ends with you but you’ve got to have what it takes.
In an ideal world, what kind of job would you do, how do you plan to get there?