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3 questions you can ask yourself when choosing a career path

Finding a career path too tricky for you? Use these guide questions to get a better understanding of yourself and what you want to ultimately achieve.

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In a fast-paced world full of absolutes, where everyone is hurrying to either get on the next cab or get on the next promotion, it’s easy to be confused and lost. The modern world presents millions of opportunities for a whole lot of people, but these same opportunities can also easily distract anyone and can easily put people down a path they don’t believe in just as well.

For anyone who’s had their fair share of working for a living, the phrases “I feel unhappy and unfulfilled” and “I feel like I’m in a quarter-life crisis” may be familiar by now, and no one can blame you. The digital age made everything instantaneous, and that includes career paths and life decisions.

It has its perks, yes, but it’s also one of the many reasons why both graduates and young professionals of this millennial generation are suffering from career unhappiness. It’s a series of trial and error, and this unhappiness may be the result of unrealistic role expectations, bad bosses, a poor match of skills for the job itself, and most common of all, uncertainty in their chosen career path.

Finding your professional niche can be a tough road to trek, and as with anything, it may take a few bad gigs before you could secure a good one. Career happiness comes from finding your dream job, and although there’s no recipe for employee satisfaction, there are guides. Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself while meditating during your morning coffee:

1. Do I really need to follow my passion?

College is a constant rush of people telling you to follow your dreams and pursue your passion that it sounds cliché at best to include this here. But there’s a reason clichés are clichés, and following what you want may be the most basic yet best tip we can give you here.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should leave your desk job and start busking on the streets. This may seem conflicting, but don’t follow your passion. Don’t. Rather, align yourself with it. In fact, as per CNBC, a paper written by Stanford researchers illustrates that people who follow this advice tend to be generally less successful. So use it to move forward, to develop new experiences, interests and expertise.

happy worker

Don’t follow your passion, but align yourself with it to help you move forward. (Source)

Instead of thinking of your career as an opportunity to pursue that passion of yours, think of life as one big opportunity to develop several passions. The truth is, we are not always good with the things that interest us, so focusing on your strengths is much better. In fact, perfecting that strength can even be a passion in itself.

So align yourself with it, and put the necessary effort to be better. After all, your lifelong career could just be a new skill that you haven’t developed yet.

2. What’s stopping me?

Plenty of times, the most common fear that holds most people back from trying is the fear of the unknown. As humans, we tend to get these irrational feelings of being scared of anything outside our comfort zone. We get scared of leaving the comfort of our desk, of breaking our daily routine, and of going into uncharted territory.

It makes us feel scared. In fact, according to The Miracle Zone, the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Out of these numbers, 95 percent are the same thoughts from yesterday just repeating themselves while 80 percent of these are negative.

Knowing this, it’s easy to see how someone can be so scared and unmotivated. But always remember that you are not your thoughts, and you don’t have to be stuck in this pattern. Take control, question yourself, and ultimately, drive yourself toward a path where the end game is a success.

3. Will it be fulfilling in the end?

Last but not the least, ask yourself if all of this will be fulfilling for you in the end.

This is often overlooked, yet this counts as one of the most important factors in the long run. Finding greater fulfillment with work will decide whether you will look back on those years with either disdain or tired but content eyes.

So align your core values with the career path you will be choosing, and make the right choices when the time comes to do so. You will thank yourself later.

We know, finding a career path you will stick on to for life can be incredibly tricky, but understanding who you are as a person, what your abilities are, and what you want to do are just one of the many tools you can use to land that perfect job that is fulfilling to both the mind and heart.

Olivia McCall is passionate about helping people and making the world a better place. Education, women and children’s rights, and environment protection make the top three in her advocacies. Olivia was a student volunteer in non-profit organizations in her native Maryland long before she finished her degree in social work. After her journalistic duties, Olivia spends her free time tutoring unschooled kids, counseling battered women, and acting as a community tour guide to visitors who want to bask in the wonders of Mother Nature on her side of the country.

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