Slideshow 6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding
on a Career

  • October 03 2013, 10:29am EDT

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding <br>on a Career

by Kayan Lim

Choosing which career to go into can be a daunting decision. Nobody wants to be in the dreaded position of working a job they hate for the rest of their lives. However, the sad truth is that many people end up in careers that they do not enjoy. More often than not, they ended up in their position by accident or circumstance and just never got out. Although a good chunk of our lives is spent at work, it is surprising that so few people actually put much time into evaluating their career options. In his article “What Should I Be When I Grow Up”, Rick Rummage lists six fundamental questions most people neglect to ask themselves before selecting a career.

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1. What are your interests?

For many people, finding the “perfect” career -- that is, one that matches all of their interests -- may not be possible. Because of this, many people resign themselves to jobs that do little to excite them, simply viewing their careers as a means to an end, rather than something for personal fulfillment. Although there may not be a job that will align perfectly with all your interests, there are some jobs that will touch on your interests more than others. Identifying where your interests lie is one of the first things you must do before deciding which career to go into. Ultimately, it is about whether you can see yourself working in your chosen field every day for years to come.

Make a list of interests. Would you rather work with your hands, your mind or both? Do you want to work inside or outside? Do you want a career that is fast paced or slow? What are you passionate about? suggests Rummage.

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2. What do you want to earn?

Not many of us can afford to work purely for the sake of enjoyment. Another huge component to consider is the pay. For most people, work is a way for us to earn money so that we can put a roof on our heads, clothes on our backs and food on the table. This is not to say that money is as important to some people as it is to others. For instance, some people may enjoy having an abundance of money to spend lavishly, while others do not require much money at all. If you find yourself making less than what you would like, it will only put a strain on you. It is important to be completely honest about how much money you would like to have when answering this question so as to avoid being dissatisfied further down the road.

Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of struggle, divorce and family breakups… Think long and hard on this question or you might become one of the millions of workers constantly complaining about money, cautions Rummage.

3. What kind of hours do you want to work?

Some jobs have fixed hours where working overtime is rare or non-existent. Others have extremely long hours where working overtime may be a regular thing. This goes back to the previous two questions – if getting a promotion or money is a guiding factor for you, then the payoffs of working long hours – whether they are monetary or career advancing, may be worth it for you. Similarly, if you are in a career that interests you, working more than the standard 40-hour week might not bother you so much. On the other side of the coin, some people may have interests beyond their jobs and may, for instance, want a career that will allow them to hit happy hour after work every day.

Some individuals are over achievers and are perfectly happy putting in the hours required for success. Others want to know they will be going home every day at the same time. Be realistic, says Rummage.

4. What type of person are you?

In all careers there will be a need for you to interact with other people. Some people may be more comfortable working closely with other people than others. Are you an extrovert, introvert or somewhere in between? This is something you must evaluate for yourself. Would you be happy at a cubicle job where the amount of socializing is kept to a minimum, or would you rather have a sales job which revolves around human interaction?

Think about how much human interfacing you can handle before making a selection, suggests Rummage.

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5. What type of nature do you have?

Some people are entrepreneurs by nature, these people simply will not be happy unless they are their own boss. Others are what Rummage calls “entrepreneurial-lite” who are not as dead set on starting their own business, but enjoy the freedom and flexibility that the entrepreneurial life has to offer. For people with this type of nature, incentive-based compensation would benefit them more than a standard monthly compensation. Ask yourself what type of nature you have, and then look at jobs from there.

If you have entrepreneurial tendencies, you should start a business or go into sales – a regular type job will not hold you, says Rummage.

6. What are your family values?

While this may not be a priority at the moment – especially for those who are just starting their careers, this may be an important factor to consider for those who plan to start a family in the future. Many jobs may require a lot of traveling or relocating. Would you be willing to be away from your family for large amounts of time? Or would you and your family be willing to pack up and move to a different place every few years? These are decisions that will not only affect you, but by extension your spouse and children.

If you are the type of person for whom family comes first, select a career that doesn’t require a lot of travel or relocation, suggests Rummage.