Ask a Coach: How do I find my ideal career?

By Shuying KeMay 25, 2016

Ask a Coach - Ideal Career

Welcome to Ask A Coach! A Q&A series where your burning questions are answered by a qualified life coach. May you deepen your understanding, explore new perspectives, and gain some wisdom. Have a burning question? Submit it here.

Question:

How do I know if a particular job/field is my ideal career?

Answer:

First, figure out what ‘ideal’ means for you. What are the characteristics of an ideal career for you? Does it involve certain values (e.g. security, freedom, creativity)? What kind of lifestyle would you like to have (e.g. 9-5 or flexible timing)? What kind of an impact do you hope to make through your work (e.g. save animals)? Is there a specific skill you want to develop? Is there a type of work you want to focus on (e.g. writing, statistical analysis)?

Second, verify that the particular field you’re considering does indeed satisfy your ‘ideal’ criteria. Sometimes we may have misconceptions of certain careers. For example, Grey’s Anatomy might have you thinking that being a doctor is an exciting and stressful job. But if you were to interview a family physician, he might tell you that the work is actually quite routine. You must do your due diligence to find the truth from those already working in the field. Best would be if you could actually intern in the field to get first-hand experience of the culture and work.

Some additional points to note:

  • No matter how much investigation you do, you’ll never know what a job is actually like until you try it. Some things have to be experienced for yourself. Sometimes you just have to jump in. 
  • Be aware that your ‘ideal’ career is only something you’ve imagined in your mind, and may not actually exist. All jobs have their ups and downs; they may come with mundane tasks. For example, you are a politician and you love implementing policies that help people. But you also have to deal with bureaucracy and the political process. Or you love teaching, but you also have to grade exam scripts every semester.
  • There is a distinction between a job and a career. A job is a short-term commitment, while a career is a long-term endeavour. Sometimes, a job may simply be a stepping stone towards a long-term career. For example, you want a career in marketing. Taking a job as an account manager at an advertising agency is stepping stone towards your bigger goal.

Sim Wei Ping, Professional Certified Coach, ICF

If you would like to delve deeper into the topic, try out our online courses:

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