Selecting the most appropriate career path isn't just about assessing your talents and your vocational interests and abilities. It's also about choosing a line of work that will mesh well with your personal and professional goals.
If you envision a life of luxury, or even just a stable financial future, you might opt to pursue a high-paying job. If money is a driving factor in what you consider a successful life, investigate careers that have the potential for substantial growth, advancement and earning power. This typically means a high-profile management position in a professional occupation such as finance and investment, science, engineering, corporate management, medicine or technology. Many of these career choices are predicated on obtaining a master’s degree or doctorate from a prestigious university. High-paying jobs also mean long work hours, which should be considered when considering the type of lifestyle you want to create.
If you plan to have a family, factor the needs of children into your career plans. Although you can be both an effective parent and a career person, you will have to make some trade-offs. You might decide you don't want a job that requires frequent travel and long or inconsistent work hours. You might disregard jobs that have the potential to put you in physical danger, such as careers related to law enforcement or the military. If flexibility is important, consider career options that allow for telecommuting, job sharing or work-from-home options. Many businesses and industries offer these types of work arrangements for qualified employees. You might consider becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own freelance, consulting or home-based business.
Professional fulfillment is an important part of life, and the way you feel about your job is often reflected in how you feel about your personal world. Give careful consideration to the level and degree of professional fulfillment you need to be happy and feel successful. For some people, this can be attained through professions that make a difference in the lives of others, such as social work, teaching, child care or medicine. For others, it might mean a profession that allows for creativity, such as writing, music, theater, filmmaking or art. The career path you choose should bring you both professional and personal satisfaction.
Consider the assistance of a professional coach, mentor or career counselor to help you chart the most appropriate career path for your life. Recognize that many outside factors have the potential to redirect your path, such as major life events including marriage, divorce, childbirth and the need to care for aging family members. Have some flexibility in how you chart your professional future to make allowances for unexpected occurrences and surprise opportunities.