Choosing A Career

By Mark Connelly
Updated: 10 September 2020

Choosing a career that suits you is an essential step in the process of making a career change, or starting on your career path.

Imagine waking up each day looking forward to doing something you love, and feeling amazed that someone actually pays you to do it!

This can be you. This page will show you how to

  1. Find your passion, and
  2. Make an informed decision.

Know your focus when choosing a career.

If a career is typically made up of a number of jobs it's important to know that the job you accept is taking you on the correct path.

Stephen Covey points out that you don't want to be climbing the ladder of success only to discover that it's leaning against the wrong wall!

Choosing a career is about taking a very broad approach to deciding the direction you want to take in your working life. Often we start in a job, because it's a job, and end up making a career change later in life because the career path we chose does not fit our values and needs.

That's why it's really important to take the time to think carefully about the career path you want to follow before you start a job, or when we're thinking of making a career change.

Knowing the career paths that interest you leads to the next step which is choosing the right career for you.

There are just three steps to begin the process of choosing a career:

  • Identify your options;
  • Get more information about careers;
  • Create a shortlist of possible careers that interest you.

Identify Your Options

A career change demands that you spend quality time thinking about yourself. Making the time for a little self discovery pays off massively when it comes to choosing a career. It's not easy though. Mostly because it's not something we are used to doing.

To begin, take a moment and answer this question before you go any further...

Think of a time in your life or current career that you would describe as a peak experience or a "high point". A time when you felt most committed, most connected, most alive, most engaged, or most successful in your work or life. Can you tell me the story?

What was happening at the time and what were you doing? What was it about the event or organization that makes it stand out? What were you doing that made it a peak experience?

What was it about you that made it a high point? What were others doing that made it a peak experience?

Take some time to think about this and write down your answers.

"I AM. Two of the most powerful words; for what you put after them shapes your reality".


A good place to begin choosing a career is to write down all your interests. Write down everything you do and everything you really enjoy doing.

This might include aspects of your current work, and work that colleagues do. It might include your hobbies and things you enjoy doing in free time. It might include sporting interests and voluntary work that you do.

Spend some time writing down as many of your interests as possible. Don't edit yourself or stop yourself writing something down. Let your creativity flow and write down everything that comes to mind.

Ask friends or family to think about your interests as well. Make a list or a mind map - whatever works for you, and leave some space to add more interests in the days to come.

When you feel you've exhausted all your thoughts go back to your answers to the question about your peak experience. Add relevant aspects of this to your page, such as what you were doing, if you were alone or with others, and what made it a peak experience for you.

If you are making a career change which of these interests stands out for you?

Discover Your Passion

The point is to discover your passion. This is so important. Many people are unhappy in the jobs they do.

Imagine waking up excited because you get to spend another day doing what you love doing...

                 ...and on top of that catching yourself laughing because you can't believe someone actually pays you to do it!

That's why it's worth spending the time to find your passion. Then you can fashion it into a career.

Keep an open mind

Take your page of interests and associate each of them with a profession or career path. Ask yourself, "Who would do this in their everyday work?"

Build another list or mind map or write the profession or career path on the same page using a different color pen.

Keep an open mind at this stage. You're not choosing a career yet, just giving yourself some ideas to follow up on.

Think more specifically about other interesting careers that are related to the ideas you have written down.

If you're struggling to think about lots of career options for choosing a career then try and think about careers that friends or family follow. Don't be too critical at this stage. Just add any that you think might be interesting to your page.

What do other people tell you that you should do? Write these ideas down. Have you seen any interesting jobs or careers on TV or in films? What are your favourite television shows? What do those people do? What is it about what they do that interests you? Can you relate this to a career?

I hope you are ready to move on to the next step in choosing a career...

"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens" ~ Carl Jung

Get more information about careers

Make sure you spend spend time getting information about careers.

Making a career change and choosing a career are important decisions. Spend the time you deserve to get all the information you need to make a great decision.

Before you start your investigation let's think logically about how to go about this.

Step 1

First, if you've got pages full of possible career options then researching them all WILL take you a very long time! So carefully choose the best options to start off your research.

The best options are the careers you find most interesting and possibly fit well with your interests. Can you really see yourself doing that career? Great! Put it on the list!

If you've only got a few options to work with that's fine! Let's work with those.

Step 2: 5 W's and the H

Spend some time finding out more about each of the careers on your list. Keep the 5 W's and the H in mind while you do this. That's Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? Try and answer each of these questions for each career.

Who? Who does this career? Find out the kind of people that normally get involved in the career. What kind of qualifications do they have? What characteristics do they have?

If people in this career work with other people, who are those people? It's a great idea to meet someone who is involved in the career if you can.

What? What do you do in this career? Do you provide a service to others or work with machinery? Find out as much as possible about what you will be expected to do.

Where? Where will you spend most of your time if choosing a career leads you to this career? Is it office based or will you be outdoors? Behind a desk or on a ship? Think geographically as well and find out if there is a lot of travel involved. If so, where might you be expected to go?

When? Some careers require that you work shifts or work at other strange times of the day or night. Find out when you would normally be expected to work.

Some careers require you to work long hours and lots of overtime. This is the best time to discover this information if you are making a career change.

Why? Try to find out why the career exists. This might sound like a strange question. But what you want to know is the reason for its existence. Does it meet a need in society? Find out what sustains it as a career and you will start getting a feeling for the bigger picture of the career.

Why do you think you might be interested in this career? Also, why do others work in this career? What is it that attracts them to the career?

How? How do you start in the career? How much will you earn? How do you do what you will have to do? How many people work in this career? Some careers are difficult to get into so find out how easy it will be for you to do this.

Finding information

The Internet is one of the best sources of information about careers.

You can also use libraries to read career related books. Most libraries will be able to give you information about many different careers. If they don't have the information you need ask them where you can go to get more information.

Another option is to visit companies that are involved in the career area you are researching. Ask if you can speak to someone about the career or if they can give you written information.

Speak to a career counselor to find additional sources of career information. Most should be able to direct you to reliable local resources.

Love...and hate?

Lots of questions to answer! Discovering as much as you can about a career makes choosing a career much easier. Don't just look at the glamorous aspects of the career.

Speak to people involved in the career and find out what they love and what they hate as well. Be realistic.

Making a career change means you want to have all the information, the good and the bad, to help you make an informed decision about choosing a career.

Create a shortlist

Only after you have done your research are you in a real position to create a shortlist to work from. Your shortlist is just the start in the process of choosing a career. You have done a lot already.

Creating a shortlist of careers is really quite simple.

  1. Read all the career information you have gathered so far;
  2. Think about what you want from making a career change. Write down the aspects that are important to you;
  3. Consider your personal circumstances. If personal circumstances are going to be an important consideration in choosing a career you may wish to write some of these down;
  4. Prioritize the careers you have investigated. Create a shortlist of careers that you think are possible options.

There's no right number of careers to have on your shortlist. You can have one or two careers, or more, on your list. That's fine. As you move on and do more discovery you will add other options to your list of possibilities.

Remember to keep an open mind at this stage. The time you have spent matching your interests and needs with careers will pay off in the future.

Choosing a career is an important task, especially when you are making a career change. You are off to a great start.

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