“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a question we can remember as a grade school writing assignment. Doctor, lawyer, astronaut, zookeeper. This was a serious question that needed a serious answer! But our interests change, and what we dreamed of becoming at age nine changes as we grow older. Life’s a basket of changes. Some are derailments while others guide us in the “right” direction. Ask yourself these questions as you find a career that’s right for you, and right for the moment. After all, nothing is permanent.
How much do I owe?
If you owe money, you’ll need to consider how your career will allow you to pay it off. I know, it’s not fun and exciting, but it’s better to consider now than later. A job that barely puts a dent in your student loans will leave you embittered and living off of 10 cent packs of soup. If anyone in your family suffers from a chronic condition, factor that in as you apply for jobs. You’ll need a job with health benefits to keep your family healthy. Analyzing your financial health provides a clearer perspective on finding balanced, meaningful work.
What motivates me?
Figure out what motivates you and find a job that provides it. Maybe you like rewards-based systems that provides bonuses and promotions based on merit. If that’s you, find a job that provides incentives and levels the playing field for advancement. Check out Glassdoor reviews of large firms and businesses. They can provide personalized insight into a company’s culture and rewards programs (watch out for people that just use it as an outlet to air their grievances). Stay on the lookout for benefits, including health coverage, a paid phone bill, and state employee discounts.
Am I a people person?
You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. The assessment is worth taking, but you have to answer the questions based on who you are, rather than the person you wish you could be. It’s okay if you’re not a social butterfly. It’s even okay if you’re a bit of a jerk. But it’s not okay to spend hours, weeks, months, and years at a job that’s not compatible with you.
It’s great to dream, but you have to take care of the practical stuff first. Don’t take a job you hate, but take something practical. And just because it’s practical doesn’t mean it’s not your dream job! Find a way to make it work. The most important thing is that you consider your situation and make sure you can support yourself. Cut your cost of living to make something you’re passionate about work. Or work a job you can tolerate for a few years to get your finances squared away.