Research shows that the average American spends one third of their lives working. It is worth investing thought and effort into making conscious decisions about how and where to spend this time. The most common question from individuals who are interested in exploring their career options is, “I want a more fulfilling career. Where do I start?” The best place to start is by considering the “big picture” of how work fits into the context of their life. Go beyond the typical considerations of natural aptitudes, acquired skill sets, personal interests and personality traits and include exploring a career path that not only aligns with these traits, but also presents a “goodness of fit” for job success and professional happiness that also makes sense for where they are in their personal life journey.
There are many aspects of a career that factor into career fulfillment and these may differ as the individual matures and moves through the different stages of life. What is important to a recent college graduate will be different from what matters to a young professional with a family, or a seasoned worker who values time over money. Most often salary and medical benefits are at the top of the list. But job satisfaction depends on so much more. Ideally, work should be something fits into the rest of life including having a purposeful career, job security, opportunities for advancement, having a work-life balance that suits other family members, and provides a sense of challenge and achievement.
This requires a thoughtful, purposeful approach to career development. This can feel like an overwhelming task resulting in disillusionment with the whole process of career exploration. One helpful option is working with a professional Life Coach or Career Development Counselor, who can be very instrumental in providing an objective viewpoint to a very personal, and therefore subjective, aspect of life. They can stimulate “out of the box” thinking that can help identify practical options. These professionals will have access to helpful information about the career choice process and tools that will help identify and match aptitudes and interests to specific career fields and major courses of study that may be needed.
Stephen L. Watson, Ph.D.
Career Development Specialist and Lifestyle Coach
Savannah Educational Consultants