Choosing a career path is all about knowing what you want for your life: your vision, your why. Without a clear and compelling vision, you end up working whatever job you can find; whatever is easy or available.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, you take whatever you can find out of necessity. But those jobs are meant to be temporary.
If you stay too long at a job that was meant to be temporary, you will feel unfulfilled and that unhappiness will bleed into your personal life BIG TIME. Coming home from work more stressed than when you left. Never feeling good about what you are doing. Or, even angry and taking it out on others.
Everyone deserves to have a career. To do work that makes them happy and helps them achieve the life they want.
Step 1: Identify your pain points
If you want to transition from just having a job to having a career, then start by figuring out what type of life you want for yourself.
For me, it started with knowing that I no longer wanted to live paycheck to paycheck. Since high school, I had always worked in restaurants, sales, and other jobs that were constantly fluctuating. The schedules were never the same from week to week, and the pay was based on so many factors that weren’t always in my control. The constant worry of knowing if it was going to be a good day/week/month for my hours and pay was so stressful.
I decided then that I wanted to get a corporate job that would eventually lead to a salaried position. A level of security in knowing what my schedule would be and exactly what I would earn on each paycheck.
Maybe for you, the pain point is not having a schedule that works for your family. Wanting a job that helps you give back to the community. Or, wanting to live in a specific place.
Step 2: Find the cure
Now that you’ve identified the pain points in your life, now you need to figure out the cure for it. Most people will just say money. Of course we all want to make more money, but money alone isn’t a cure. It is more like a band aid.
In my case, having a job that paid me more money didn’t help relieve my stress. I definitely made more bonuses, commission, or tips but it always felt like an added negative pressure rather than a positive motivating factor (like it may be for others). It wasn’t the money I was after. I craved the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly how much I would be making and when. My cure was a salary and stability in my hours.
You need to figure out the cure that applies to you.
We are all intrinsically motivated by different things, so the cure needs to be customized for your needs. For instance, if your schedule doesn’t work for your family, you could be a teacher with similar hours to your kids schedules. You could work part-time. You could work for yourself. With more seniority or authority in your company you could make your own schedule. There are multiple ways, but not all of them are going to work for you without just being another band aid solution.
Step 3: Fill the prescription
Once you know the cure, you need to figure out how to get your hands on it. A prescription is written to provide you medicine and instructions. For your career, this could look like skills you need to learn, education or certifications, a test you need to pass, or forming networking relationships, just to name a few.
In my case, once I knew I wanted a corporate job, it was all about networking. I knew I didn’t have corporate experience, so getting into that type of role meant job hunting. Networking is a faster and more effective way of landing a job so that is what I focused on. I also got help in sharpening my resume and interview skills that would fit a corporate setting. One of the connections I formed helped me get an interview at her current company and since I was well prepared, that is how I landed my first corporate job!
Look at where you are now in your current position and see what it would take for you to move into the position you want.
Is it working on a development plan with your boss to advance in your current company? Is it improving your networking and job search skills to find a different company or even a different industry altogether? Is it furthering your education or skills in some other ways?
Putting it all together:
If you want to figure out what your next role should be, apply these 3 easy steps to see what moves you should make right now. The great thing is that the steps can be repeated regularly. Once you have removed one pain point, you go after another and another and that is how your career is formed.
Once I got my foot in the door, I saw the skills I needed to thrive in the corporate world. I worked to develop my computer skills, Excel, communication, teamwork, and so forth so that I could continue to advance.
Once I achieved the feeling of stability I was after, my next pain point was having a roommate. I wanted to move into my own place, but affordable to where I didn’t add back in the paycheck-to-paycheck stress loop. I was willing to live in the suburbs in a smaller place, so once I researched some costs and locations that would work for me, it was all about figuring out how to perform better on my job to earn a raise or promotion.
After that was achieved, my pain point was to pay off debt. Eventually, I decided I wanted to go back to school for my masters. All of this took less than 5 years, which in a career or a lifetime is hardly any time at all.
The key is that by addressing the pain points in my life and building my skills along the way to shape my career, I not only found fulfillment but formed the lifestyle that I wanted to live. Instead of just taking any job I may have been good at, I chose jobs that fit my needs.
Maybe you don’t have debt or want to go to school, but you could use that money to start a family. Start a side business. Start traveling. Whatever. Think about where you could be in five years if you follow these 3 simple steps.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t do these 3 steps all on your own. In the same way we may go to a doctor when we can’t figure out what is wrong with us or how to address it, you can use a coach to help you with your career. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to learn how I can prescribe a solution for you.