Perhaps the single most important step to take towards achieving greatness as an individual is clarifying your career path. In my own experience and research I’ve found quite a handful of reasons many people spend their lives trapped in a career path that evidently is not suitable for them.
There are two basic reasons for this pattern. One is that most people are not fully aware of what they really are interested in. The other is that most people, even though they are aware of their interests, do not think it’s okay.
The solution to these barriers is what I intend to share with you.
1. Increase Your Self-Awareness
Leveraging on the things you love doing as a primary basis for clarifying your career path cannot be overemphasized. Recognizing the activities, ideas and environments that are more interesting to you than other things is a key exercise here.
This exercise is helpful in that it focuses your career search. By raising your awareness of the things that are your major interests, you save yourself the stress of looking where you shouldn’t be looking. Instead you focus on learning about the potential jobs, and developing your skills in a manner that’s specifically targeted to your areas of interest.
It is clear what happens when you do are not fully aware of your interests. Every job in the world becomes a possibility. Or perhaps you try to hit the moving target of today’s “coolest” or most “lucrative” career paths. Your attention scatters and your attempts at developing a suitable career path suffers.
How do you raise your level of self-awareness in this context?
There are many ways. Think about the experiences that are particularly enjoyable to you. Think about the programs and books you enjoy most. You could even ask friends to know what their opinion of your interests are. A few recurring themes will certainly emerge.
If these seem not to produce much results, then invest time into exploring new things, especially things you think you might like. As a matter of fact you can’t say whether or not you like something until you have tried it.
Note that exploring new things will not automatically translate into a favorable career path. Howbeit, it’s crucial to know that you prefer ballroom dancing over writing. The goal is to increase your self-awareness.
2. Modify Your Social Environment
One unfortunate result of humans being such socially-oriented creatures is that we’re extremely susceptible to the opinions and doubts of other people.
If you’ve been feeling confused about your career direction for a while, the true issue probably isn’t a lack of knowledge of what you want. Instead, the confusion stems from the fact that what you want conflicts with what the world around you says is acceptable or possible. Often when this occurs, we dismiss what we truly want and instead try to conform to others’ expectations.
The core solution to conquering this issue is to modify your social environment. Find and surround yourself with people who naturally accept who you are deep down.
These people may be others who are already pursuing your desired career path. They may be particularly accepting and supportive friends. Or they may take the form of a coach or mentor with whom you click.
Focusing on creating an environment full of social acceptance for what you want will help you to calm down, drop the confusion and realize that your true career aspirations are legitimate and worth honoring.
Do you know anyone who seemed to have little effort clarifying and following his/her career path? In all likelihood, such had an awareness of what his/her major interests are as well as an environment that supported him/her in pursuing his/her dreams.
In essence, by giving yourself a dose of introspection and an encouraging community, you’ll be able to drop your career decision anxiety and get on your way.