7 Ways To Discover Your Ideal Career If You're Not Sure Which Direction To Take

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Are you currently searching for your ideal career? If you're a millennial, chances are, you probably haven't found your perfect job; seeing as early adulthood is often viewed as a time to experiment and figure out what you want from life. No matter what stage of life you're at, you may be on the lookout for your ideal career. There are many reasons why you might feel like choosing a different career path. Perhaps you feel unchallenged, that your current job is meaningless, or you may totally hate the industry in which you find yourself. Whatever the reason, it's never too late to start again and discover a career which makes you want to get out of bed on a Monday morning.

Whichever path you take to finding your ideal career, the key is to be brave. I've learned this from experience. Staying in a job that's comfortable, familiar, or simple is easy. Being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone to forge a life you dream of is frankly, terrifying. But your risk may pay off ten times over in the long run.

Imagine you are 90 years old and you're looking back at your career – would 90-year-old you be proud of the choices you made or regret the ones you were too afraid to make? If your answer is the latter, it's time to search for your ideal career with these simple tips.

1. Get Some Work Experience

Volunteering is a great way to discover if a specific industry is right for you, and you can fit it in around the job you're currently in. If your experience helps you to discover that you've found your perfect career, you may be in with a chance of getting hired by the company, considering that you already worked for them for free. According to the Huffington Post, while getting work experience you should, "Treat your placement as an extended interview and take the opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the role. If you make a good enough impression you could even land a job once your work experience is over."

On the flip-side, if your work experience helps you realize that a particular industry is not your cup of tea, all is not lost, "Even if you decide that this isn't the career for you after all — don't worry — that's what work experience is all about. You will still have learnt something useful about yourself and at the same time gained some useful skills and experience that will be valuable to you whatever career you ultimately choose to pursue." By volunteering regularly in an industry new to you, alongside your job, there's nothing to be lost, but plenty to be gained.

2. Do Your Research

Researching different careers is vital to you finding your ideal career. You wouldn't buy a car without giving it a test drive first, or buy a house without a viewing, so you need to know what different jobs entail before switching careers, otherwise you may be left disappointed. Don't just look at the careers of your friends and family members, think bigger. What's right for one person can be drastically wrong for another. By all means, ask around and find out what kinds of responsibilities and daily duties your loved ones undertake, but don't just pick the same career as a friend or family member because it sounds fun, because everyone's perspective of life is different. According to The Guardian in an article about researching potential new careers, "The more research you do, the more you will uncover new ideas and new career paths. You will still need to work out to which careers you are best suited. But without good research your options will always be limited and your career change may not be as good as it could be."

3. Jump Right In

You might truly despise your current job and feel as if you can't wait to quit. You may be struggling with an horrendous work/life balance, be unable to progress in your current role, or resenting the soul-sucking duties you have to complete. As previously mentioned, it's best not to throw yourself blindly into a new career without doing some research first, but after you've had a look at a few roles which are of interest, you could just go for it. Of course, this takes guts and depending on your financial situation, you may not be able to easily throw yourself into a new career. Psychology Today discussed making financially risky decisions, "When you are confronted with some difficult decisions, it is important to be clear headed and objective in your decision-making process. When choosing whether to risk financial stability for a 'guaranteed return' on your investment, it is usually best not to jump into any decision without making sure you are not going to lose your home or lunch money."

However, if you do find yourself in a position to be able to experiment with different career paths, then by all means, dive in. Oftentimes trusting your gut, or your instincts, are the best way to make a decision. Learning to trust your instincts can be tricky, but Sonya Derian writing for Tiny Buddha said, "I know that I can never make a wrong decision because I can always 'right' my decision down the line. I know that this is an opportunity that is presenting itself now, which means on some level I am ready for it. I know that I can try it out for awhile and see what it’s like. I know that I can always change my mind if I want to. I know that in making a decision, I will propel movement, either way, and change is good. I know that things always work out for me, regardless of what happens." So if nothing's stopping you from jumping straight into a new career and it feels right, what are you waiting for?

4. Ask An Expert

To learn more about different careers, reach out to some experts to find out what they like or dislike about their jobs and determine how they got into their fields. If they have the time, you could ask them a series of questions regarding how they became successful, what challenges they faced along the way, or how the industry has changed since they entered into it. You can contact people over the phone, via email, or in person and choose the method which suits them best. Your family and friends may able to help you out with useful contacts too. Asking an expert will help you discover what it takes to be the best in a field you're interested in, plus you might get some useful advice and tips on starting out.

5. Get Educated

Once you've narrowed down your search to your favorite career options, you may want to broaden your horizons and learn how to actually do your job. This is very different to research, where you would look at say, the statistics of people's job satisfaction in particular fields or the duties of different jobs; IMO educating yourself entails learning the skills you will need for a specific career. For example, if you were contemplating setting up your own bakery you might want to take courses in business management and cookery, or if you are thinking about becoming a nurse, you will need to study for particular qualifications. Even if halfway through your course or training you decide that the job you're heading towards isn't what you want, educating yourself and broadening your horizons is never a waste of time. Learning new skills could help put you on the right path to where you need to be.

6. Take A Test

There are plenty of online resources you can utilize to find out which career is right for you. One that particularly stood out to me was the MAPP™ Career Assessment Test which is available online and appears easy and quick to complete. The website explains the MAPP Test and says, "The MAPP™ career test is the first and most comprehensive career test online for consumers. More than 7 million people in nearly every country in the world have taken the MAPP test since its inception in 1995." Personality tests may also aid you in discovering more about your strengths and weaknesses which could help you in your search for a new career. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire for instance, can help you find out what kind of personality you have, which could assist you in job hunting.

7. Find A Mentor

It's not just high school students who get to have their own mentors, anyone can have one! Possible mentors could include: Someone who is an expert in your field, a friend or family member working in an industry you're interested in, or a professional life coach. You'll be able to regularly pick the brains of someone more experienced in a career you want to get into and have a guiding hand along your own journey. Plus some mentors volunteer their time, so if you're strapped for cash, you can probably still find one. Being a mentor is a great experience and mentors can gain a lot from their role, so everyone's a winner.

Discovering your ideal career needn't be difficult, expensive, or stressful – so get out there and follow your heart.

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