CHOOSING A CAREER / FEB. 23, 2015
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6 Crucial Questions to Ask When Figuring Out Your Career Path

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Perhaps just behind the choice of who to marry, deciding on a career path is one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make. With a large portion of your life dedicated to working, having a “dream job” is indeed the dream for many. It’s figuring out what that dream looks like that’s the hard part. 

Whether you’re just out of high-school or making a mid-life shift, asking yourself these six questions will help make your “dream job” a little less abstract and much more concrete.

See Also: How to Facilitate Personal Career Management in a Tough Job Market

1. If money wasn’t an issue, what would I be doing with my life?

Taking the issue of money out of the equation removes a huge barrier for many. No doubt money is important, but it’s not enough to sustain a fulfilling career. Sacrificing passion for the sake of cash is a fast-track to bitterness. 

This question will help uncover your passion and love. Free yourself from the concern of money just for a moment and answer this question.

2. What am I uniquely talented at?

The slight edge for a marketer comes with a product that stands apart from the crowd. Unless you’ve lived under a rock your entire life, there is something that you are good at. This question will help you think through what makes you different and marketable.

Combine this with question one. Find the intersection and where your talent overlaps with your passion. And then how you could transfer that into a vocation.

Dr. Seuss said it well, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Being yourself is your competitive edge. 

3. Is there anyone currently making a living from doing that (the answer to question 2)? 

While some people’s quirky talents won’t go further than a hobby, it’s fascinating to see the amount of people who’ve been able to create a living from their unique gift. There’s a niche and tribe representing almost every interest. 

Finding someone in the world who’s doing similar work is important for two reasons: first, it’s validation and encouragement that your dream is possible; second, it’s a possible connection for mentorship. Send them an email to pick their brain for guidance and advice.

4. Can I see myself doing this in ten years?

You may not end up doing it for ten years, but there needs to be an element of sustainability to what you’re pursuing. The amount of years you’re able to invest in a goal is what separates what you “like” doing, from what you “love” doing. You want to cut away any goals that are just lukewarm. 

5. How will this benefit the people around me?

We all want to engage in meaningful work. And that’s found in the impact you have on others; selfishness has a very short shelf-life. If you build a career and life solely around your needs and wants, you’ll notice that cup will fill quite quickly.

This question will help you think about how your potential career can help a broader community. You’ll think about working toward a greater vision. 

The young, but wise Anne Frank left us with the reminder that, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” 

6. What can I do right now that will get me closer to my dream?

Don’t try and see the whole picture before you take action. The picture will shift and change as you move forward. The most important part though, is having forward momentum. So, think of one action you can take today that will get you closer to your goal. It doesn’t matter how big or small, it could be sending an email or making a phone call. Taking action will help lead you in the right direction. 

See Also: How to Build Your Career Plan for 2015

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