10 Questions for Choosing Your Career Path


These days, people do not follow just one career their whole lives, the way it was common decades ago. On average, the modern worker changes career direction three times over a 30- or 35-year career today.

Many people go through life, though, never being able to truly take advantage of the flexibility they have. They are never able to think of a career path that would make them happy. They need a way to get into their own heads and look for an answer.

Sometimes, you need to trick your mind into giving up what exactly it would be happy with. The 10 questions that follow go some distance in helping you do exactly that.

1. What would you do for free?

Simply asking yourself a direct question about what excites you does not usually get results. You need to frame the question in a way that the mind understands. Ask yourself what you would not mind doing for a long time for very little money. Put this way, the question could bring out all kinds of meaningful answers. 

2. What have you found yourself doing well?

Tennis world champion Serena Williams is known to say in her interviews that she does not actually love tennis – that if it were up to her, she would spend her life loafing.

If you find yourself in the position that there is nothing you love so much that you would do it for free, then, you can do as Serena did: find something that you are just good at. You may not be passionate about it; it may make you happy to do something that makes you feel competent, though.

3. What do you hate doing or do terribly?

When you look for a career path that is a good fit, sometimes, the answer will come to you by a process of elimination. You need to identify what it is that you simply cannot do. Once you know what you hate, you may find that your thoughts about you career run far clearer.

4. What do others want you to do?

If you find that your choices are constantly influenced by what others expect of you, try to cut them out of the equation for a minute: imagine that you are in a completely new country with no family. You are free of all their expectations. What would you choose to do?

5. Try a skill matching test

Career assessment tests may not always be accurate; often, though, they help you see your skills and interests in a new light. If the last one that you took was in high school, you should take either sign up with a career counselor or try one of various free career assessment tests online.

6. Ask yourself what job teaches you what you want to learn

One of your aims with a good career path should be to find opportunities to learn new skills. Learning opportunity is a useful way to see different career paths. The path that gives you best education may be the best career for you.

7. Ask yourself where your career leads

If your current career path were a stepping stone to something else, where would it lead? If you allowed yourself to brainstorm possible ways forward, you may find answers that range from everything from a career writing about the challenges in your industry to mentoring others or starting your own business.

8. Will you try something you would never have thought to try?

If the mainstream choices seem to not rock your boat, you should consider something completely off the wall – a job on an oil rig, an animal caretaker’s position, a hot dog stand or embalming. An oddball job may just speak to you while making you more than $30,000 a year.

9. Are you ready to build a network?

Asking hundreds of people is an excellent way to come by good career advice. LinkedIn is one of the greatest resources on earth for such a plan. Once you build a reasonable network on LinkedIn, you only need to put a question out there to receive a deluge of deep, thought-provoking answers.

10. Will you try a short internship?

Simply reading about different career paths and taking tests may not make it easy for you to visualize new career environments.

If you are flexible about compensation, an internship can be an excellent way to audit a new career. You will learn very quickly this way if a new career is for you; at the very least, you will learn something about yourself and make new contacts.