Planning Your Career - 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself

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When you're in college, or have just graduated, having an effective career planning strategy is crucial. It's important to know a little bit about who you are and what you want to do before you start on your career path. The challenge is that many college students lack the necessary degree of self-awareness to really plan for a career that is right for them. Even after working for several years, many of us are still hung up on trying to be who we are "supposed" to be and doing the work that others think we should.
The truth is that planning a career for the person we wish we were or the one we think we're supposed to be only serves to hold us back. You see, we'll never be that person, so a career that's right for that imaginary person isn't always going to be right for who we really are. During the career planning process, we have to spend some time trying to understand who we actually are and what we really want to do with our lives. Once we have a clear picture, we can get on with the business of planning a career that fits us, exactly as we are.
In order to do that, we have to ask ourselves a lot of questions to get down to the real truth. Here are 10 questions you should know the answers to before you plan your career:
  • What do I feel passionate or excited about?
  • What sort of person typically works in this field? Are they people that you would want to be friends with, even if you weren't working in the field?
  • How much education is needed and how long am I willing to study in order to get there?
  • Is there room to grow and if so, what position would you ultimately like to have?
  • Will I be able to have enough family time and/or is having a family important to me?
  • Will I need to live in a specific area and if so, am I willing to re-locate?
  • Can I picture myself doing this job?
  • Would my friends and family support this decision? If not, will that stop me?
  • Are there things about this career that I don't like? What are they?
  • Is the salary, both entry-level and above, enough to sustain my lifestyle?
All of these questions will make you think about how the choices you make impact all other aspects of your life. By getting to know yourself and thinking about a career in relation to your life, you can avoid making bad choices or working hard in a field that isn't right for you. After all, it's better to know these things now, rather than realize them 10 years down the road when you may not have the time or resources to start a new career path.
What do you do to decide if a career is right for you? Have you ever regretted your career choices? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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