They say that most people do complete and total career changes at least once often twice in their lifetimes. Very few people chose the ideal perfect career for themselves when they’re in high school and blissfully happily work those same jobs for the rest of their lives. With the way that technology and everything else changes so fast, I think it’s ridiculous to expect to stay in one job from the time you leave school until you retire. Even staying in the same company can be a huge challenge. So how will you pick your first career? Your next major career change?
The first thing I want you to look at is what kinds of things do you enjoy doing and what you are naturally good at. Imagine that you just won the lottery and you will never have to work again for another day of your life. How would you spend your time? After the shopping sprees and traveling and such grows old, you’re going to have to fill your days up doing something so that you aren’t bored out of your mind. What would you do? What would consume your attention if you could freely bury yourself in it? Is there a way to make a living at that now? Is there a way to incorporate some of that into your current career? Could you begin doing it now as a hobby and grow it into a second income and eventually quit your ‘real job’ to play full time at your new hobby/career?
You obviously have to look at practicality issues. Truth be known my very favorite thing to do is drive convertibles and suntan at the beach. That’s not likely going to ever become a career and it sure as heck isn’t going to pay my bills! You have to look at what you like to do and take a realistic look at whether the market is ever going to pay you an income for doing it. Just because you love doing something doesn’t mean that the world is going to love giving you money for doing it. There are plenty of musicians and artists out there who can’t earn enough to support themselves. It takes more then just a love of your work. Pick a number of different things that you love and narrow the list down by deciding which ones would realistically finance you at the level that you require.
Another thing to consider, especially when you’re choosing your first job is how much education or special training is required. How many kids think that because they love to play basketball that they’ll be the next Michael Jordan? How many put in the kind of work and practice that he did? If you want to be a doctor, then you better seriously contemplate the years of college and the extremely high cost of going to medical school. Down the road, a lot of the experience you get in one career can be transferred to your next career. Customer service skills that you learn while waiting tables will still serve you later when you’re an entrepreneur. If you have a lot of the skills from previous work experience, but not all of them, then you have to figure out how to finance going to night school or whatever else you need to do to change careers. Additional education and skills shouldn’t stop you from changing to a great job that you know you’ll love, but you do need to take it into serious consideration while making the choice.
Many of the community colleges have these cool placement tests that tell you what kinds of work you’d be happy doing. They ask you a bunch of multiple choice questions like if you’d rather work indoors or outside. Do you want to travel as part of your career or stay home? How much weight are you willing to lift? How introverted or extroverted are you? How much money do you want to make? After you answer these questions and a bunch more, the computer system spits out a list of careers that you would be suited to. Keep in mind that what interested you at twenty isn’t likely to be the same as what interests you at forty. I would think that you could do an online search and find some of those tests online. These will give you some ideas you may have never considered. I remember taking one when I was in my early twenties and I ranked extremely high at “Clergy.” I laughed and thought that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of. I wanted to be a motivational speaker and it took me a couple of days before I realized that it’s a very similar job description. Whether I’m telling you about God or I’m telling you how to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, it’s the same skills and many of the same daily tasks. I’m preaching a different topic, but I’m still up on my soapbox telling you what to do and telling you how to live, aren’t I? So be open minded to what the test results show.
So, start out by brainstorming ideas of things that you would love to do if money was not an issue. Then add to it the results of one of those placement tests. Take the ideas from those two exercises and start looking at the practicalities of marketability and how much education and training are necessary. If you can find a way to do what you love and make a living at it, then you’ve got the key ingredients to creating a life of abundance and prosperity that the rest of the world only dreams of. You don’t have to stay with something just because you used to love it and now you make a lot of money doing it. If you are bored and ready for something new, then start dreaming and planning your next adventure.