Do you know what your strengths are? Do you know what makes you happy? Have you developed your skills and talents in a way that can add value?
If you answered no to any of these questions, then you are most likely not in a situation where you feel empowered and motivated.
Whether you are underemployed or unemployed, the reality is, you need to find a career that is rewarding. One of the issues that many struggle with is that word "rewarding." In the world we live in, it seems that this word is directly correlated to being able to have a big house, nice cars, expensive clothes and the latest technology. If we do not truly understand who we are and what gives us fulfillment, then we take the path that the world thinks is best for us, not what truly is best for us.
When that is our definition of "rewarding," we strive hard at work to move up the corporate ladder or are always the first to raise our hand when overtime is asked for. Although neither of those are problems in and of themselves, the issue comes when we ask ourselves why we do it. Are we making those decisions so we can drive the nicest car on the block or make sure our children all have iPhones so they can be the cool kids at school? Or are we doing those things because it's what we are good at, it's what we are passionate about, and we find genuine fulfillment in doing those things?
A quote by Yogi Berra is one that has really provided some great insights into the discussion of finding a career path: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." We are trained and taught from a very young age to always be ready to make a decision to go left or right. That is not a bad thing, and to be honest, we may need more of that nowadays. However, when we get so accustomed to that thought process, we can often lose focus on what matters most to us as an individual. We start to make decisions based on what others think and say.
When it comes to your career, you must take charge of 100 percent of what you do. For those searching for a job right now or looking for a new career, keep going. By understanding and paying attention to what the best path is for you — and with persistence and determination — you will succeed.
Here are some suggestions to help you find the best career path for you:
- Ask and listen: Take some time to ask those around you, who really know you what you are good at, what they see makes you smile. Ask them to tell you what they see makes you unhappy. Then, with all the humility you can muster, listen — actively listen. Allow them to be honest. As you listen, don’t say anything, just take notes. Write down your feelings and any questions that might come to you. Once you have done this with three to four people, take an assessment of your findings. Review what was said, what your feelings were and what questions you have.
- Research: Be careful not to sell yourself short by reading two articles you found on an employment website saying there is high demand and a high salary for certain jobs, and then start applying for those jobs. You need to really spend some time researching careers you feel will allow you to be your best you, add value and provide the income you feel you need. Once you have found a couple of options, then do your deeper research by finding people that work in those kinds of jobs. Ask them questions; shadow them, if possible. Find a book that relates to that field, read it and see how you feel.
- Know the difference between a job and career: This is an area where there needs to be a lot more education done. Too many people do not clearly understand the difference between a job and a career, and because they don’t, they end up jumping from job to job, getting terminated from jobs, or spending countless hours applying for every job they see posted onlinee. This is not only a waste of time, but it is a waste of resources and takes an emotional toll. A career is something that you see yourself doing long-term and enjoying. It is the type of employment where you find growth, opportunity, satisfaction and genuine happiness. It is a position that allows you to tap into your strengths, skills and talents and allows you to maintain your personal ethics and values. A job is something you do because that was what you could find. It is something you do because your friend recommended and you didn’t want to offend him. A job is something you can’t wait to leave each day and you don’t look forward to driving into each morning. We all will have jobs in our life, and that's a necessity. The key is to find out what your ideal career is, and then place yourself on that path so you can make the transition. Be humble enough to take a job to make ends meet, but have enough pride in who you are to find your career.
For those who are looking for a new career path: Ask yourself, does what you are doing align with this new information? Is there opportunity for growth into a position that can lead you to what you want to do? Is it time to look for another place of employment that can better align with what will provide you with true satisfaction? If not, take a deep breath and, if necessary, start the process of making the changes that will lead you to what you want to do.
No matter what your current situation is, you are important. You are needed somewhere and your talents will truly help an organization improve. The task at hand is to give yourself the confidence that helps you feel empowered to make positive change. Don’t allow others to determine your destiny. Take charge, right now, of your future. Your career awaits you; it's time to take action. Good luck.
Seth Saunders is currently branch president of the Pembroke Branch (Spanish) and President of the Pink Shoe Hero Foundation. Seth has been married 15 years to his amazing wife Amber and is the proud father of three wonderful sons.