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Follow the Three ‘R’s to Find the Right Career Path

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Summary: Learn how to narrow down your career choices when you feel like you are interested in everything.


Question: What are some steps or strategies to narrow down a career path? I am not sure what I really want to do at this stage of my life. Real-estate investing, youth ministry, landscaping, and the possibility of owning my own creative business are all of interest to me. I seem to be spinning my wheels. Can you help?

Answer: Follow the three R’s of career choice: researching, role-playing, and resolving to move off the dime.

Researching. One of the easiest traps to fall into when trying to make a career choice is basing decisions on incomplete information. Do your homework on yourself and your options. Get to your gut-level motivators. At this stage of your life, what are you really looking to get out of your work? This isn’t necessarily an easy or painless process, but you need to be able to answer that question with conviction.

Conduct rigorous research of each of the career areas you are considering. Read everything you can get your hands on, and assess the degree to which each overlaps with your personal drivers. Take a hard look at the potential tradeoffs and the training required to move into a new field or to start a business. Make it a point to spend some time with people in your selected professions who might provide additional insights to fully inform your decision-making process.

Role-playing. Once you have narrowed your choices to two or three options, you must move beyond the research stage. Specifically, “try on” some of the careers you are investigating. Start to inhabit that skin. Often overlooked, but still valuable, volunteer work, trade-association committee assignments, in-depth interviews and contract work each offer opportunities to experience a host of careers, rather than signing on with no direct involvement.

Resolving. Commit to action. Making a career choice can seem overwhelming, but resolve to follow up in greater detail on your interests. The closer you get to each, the easier it will become to eliminate some options and focus your attention on those that continue to call your name.

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