The vast majority of students and graduates are confused when it comes to selecting a career. This is understandable because they lack the exposure and experience to determine which career is right for them. However what surprises me is that 3 out of 4 working professionals that I talk to strongly feel that their job does not inspire them. This happens when professionals have made wrong career choices.
So whether you are a student, recent graduate, early or mid-career working professional there is one question that remains unanswered for many:
How do I choose the right career?
Before I discuss how to choose the right career it is important to understand the consequences of choosing a wrong career.
What are the consequences of choosing a wrong career?
If you choose a wrong career then you will not like the work you do. If your work is uninteresting it will not inspire you to wake up every morning and go to work. Uninspiring work leads to lower engagement causing lower performance. As a result of all this you will experience career stagnation which will eventually lead to work frustration.
If you do not want to get stuck and frustrated in your career then you have to do career discovery and choose the right career.
They are two fundamental approaches to making career choices.
1) Outside-In approach: In this approach you rely predominantly on the opinion of people around you like your parents, family members, friends, colleagues, peers etc., for making career decisions. Your decision is also influenced by material benefits like role, money, location etc. This is the most common approach used for making career choices but in most cases it does not lead to finding the right career path because the work may not align properly with your values, interest, strengths, personality and aspirations.
2) Inside-Out approach: In this approach you do a self-discovery in order to seek clarity on your values, interests, strengths, personality and aspirations. Your make career decisions based on who you are and are less influenced by the outside world. Very few take this approach but it is more likely to give you clarity on which career path is best suited for you.
I have developed a process for discovering your ideal or best-fit career based on the Inside-out approach.
Ideal Career Discovery (ICD) Process
Ideal Career Discovery (ICD) is a simple, proven and effective process of selecting your best-fit career path and it involves two steps:
1. Determining your Sweet Spot of Success (SSS)
2. Mapping your SSS to various career options and selecting the best-fit career
1. Determining your Sweet Spot of Success (SSS)
The Sweet Spot of Success (SSS) is unique to every individual and it a place where your passion, purpose and expertise meet. If you are operating in your SSS zone then success, financial rewards and fulfillment are sure to follow you. There are 7 factors that contribute to your success and they are:
1. Values – Example (Money, Respect, Creativity, Challenge etc.)
2. Interests – Example (Social, Enterprising, Artistic, Investigative etc.)
3. Strengths – Example (Copy writing, People Management, Coding, Creative Design etc.)
4. Personality – Example (Enthusiastic, Instinctive, Reserved, Perfectionist etc.)
5. Aspirations – Example (IAS officer, Corporate Executive (CXO), Digital Entrepreneur etc.)
6. Purpose – Example (Train professionals, Build a smart city, Solve social problems etc.)
7. Self-image – Example (Confident, Positive, Sceptical, Lethargic etc.)
The intersection of these factors is your SSS.
In order to get clarity on each of these factors you need to follow a systematic and iterative process by asking the right questions like:
2. Mapping your SSS to career options and selecting the best-fit career
There is no shortage of career options in the world today. One can choose from a plethora of career options like:
Within each of the above career options there are multiple career paths that you can choose from.
Once you get clarity on your SSS, you need to explore the various career options and career paths and identify 3 career paths that are best aligned with your SSS.
For each of the 3 career paths that you have narrowed down to, you need to explore them in further detail and revisit your SSS to identify one career path that is best-suited for you. This is your ideal or best-fit career.
Ideal Career Psychometric Assessment
Ideal Career Discovery (ICD) is a systematic process where you need to ask the right questions and reflect in order to get clarity on your SSS and the best-fit career. However, initially when you ask these questions you may not be clear with your answers. So I suggest starting with the Ideal Career Psychometric Assessment (ICPA) which is a scientific way of doing self and career discovery. The ICPA is a multiple choice questionnaire which evaluates your psychological profile based on your response to the life/career situations and identifies your interests, strengths, values and personality type. Based on these factors it also recommends three best-suited career paths which can guide you in making the right career choice. By using the ICPA tool as a starting point you can expedite the process of career discovery.
Choosing the right career is absolutely essential for achieving success, financial rewards and work fulfillment. If you choose the wrong career then it will only lead to career stagnation and frustration.
Career discoverywill give you clarity on what type of work interests you and how you can serve the world with your unique skills. It will lead to finding work that you love. When you love your work you will be more inspired to do it. Higher inspiration means you will be more engaged. Higher engagement means you will be more successful.
Career discovery needs to be done in a systematic manner and the Ideal Career Discovery (ICD) process will enable to you to choose the right career. To facilitate and expedite the process of career discovery I also recommend using the Ideal Career Psychometric Assessment (ICPA).
Questions to Ponder:
1. Are your pursuing the right career?
2. Are you liking or enjoying your work?
3. Do you have a vision for your career?
4. Does your job utilize your full potential?
5. Are you satisfied with your career progression?