5 Keys for Making the Best Choice in Your Career

The Grass always looks greener… sometimes it is

The old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side” is a warning to people who are always searching for a better way to earn a living.   When things are challenging at work the urge to consider other options is normal, but how can you know if you’ve made a poor career choice or just going through temporary difficulties? 

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Why it’s important make the right career choice

Some people just “go with flow” and do not invest time to learn about the best match to their natural gifts and passions.   This is surprising because the cost of a making a poor choice is astronomical.   Its common to hear people spending $50,000 to $100,000 on education only to discover they hate the requirements of the work or environment associated with it.

The greater cost of an uninformed decision is the lost opportunity time and damaged self esteem that can result.   It takes time to learn skills and to excel in any career.  Malcom Gladwell suggests that roughly 10,000 hours is required to really master a new craft.  

Someone who doesn’t spend time to learn about their natural gifts and compare these to the needs of an industry can lose years of earning potential only to discover a mismatch to what their talents are best suited for.  


5 Tools to Assess a Good Career or Business Match

In order to prevent costly mistakes, here are 5 suggestions to create awareness of your natural strengths, talents and passion.   Equipped with this knowledge, you can then apply it to career or business planning methods.

1. Know Thyself

The first tool is developing self awareness for who you are and what you love to do.   We each have natural gifts and things we are called to in life.   The best investment you can ever make is learning about yourself through experiential programs designed to reveal your true nature.  

One of the best-known methods is in a book titled, What Color is Your Parachute.  This course was one of the most valuable programs I did in college.   The self examination process helped me understand my nature and provided the foundation for choosing work I love.  

2. Develop a Flow State Journal

The new research in Flow State Activation provides a roadmap for determining work you will excel at.   Flow is a state of mind where you become totally engaged, focused and highly motivated.   This neuro chemical state is activated by engaging activities that trigger our underlying interests and passions.

One way to chart your flow state triggers is to create a journal of activities that spark your interest and give you energy.   This can be done by reviewing your current work days, or by looking at past activities that have sparked your energy.   

 Indications of flow state triggers often show up early in life.  For example, when I was a boyscout at 12 years old, we did a fundraiser for a canoe trip.  The method focused on selling light bulbs that cost twice the normal price but used less energy and lasted 5 times as long.  

For reasons unknown to me at the time, I became obsessed with this type of selling.  I loved persuading people to give me money in exchange for what I believed was good.  I became the top seller and also established a memory point for work I would excel at later in life.

3. Understand Your Natural Strengths

Everyone has personal strengths and natural gifts.   When you become aware of these it provides valuable information for selecting work that will be a good match.

 One of the best assessment tools I’ve discovered is Clifton Strength Finder 2.0.  The assessment tool is available online and can be accessed immediately to understand the types of jobs that you will enjoy doing.   

4. Does the Work Align with Your Core Values?

Few people will last long doing work that is out of alignment with their values.   Yet because values are often unconscious inner drivers, you may be unaware of a mismatch until conflicts show up down the road.   

You can become aware of your values by writing and reflecting on what is important to you in life.   Asking questions such as; what is the meaning of work, what is money for, how important is health and family.  This self knowledge will help you make better career choices and avoid commitments that are out of alignment with your core values.  

5. Are You Inspired by Others Working in the Field?

Each industry seems to attract people with certain values, personality characteristics and ways of seeing the world.    Bankers, accountants and lawyers are often very different personalities than architects, graphic designers or advertising copywriters.  

Since we spend a large percentage of our day with coworkers, it’s important to understand what personalities may dominant the industry your considering.    

One of the best ways to learn about culture in any field is doing informational interviews, asking questions and observing.    If you have an easy time connecting to people you interview, this indicates a good culture for you.    If you feel awkward and have a hard time relating to the point of view in an industry, this may indicate a mismatch to your personality type. 

What to do next

Developing awareness for what you love and matching this to how you earn a living is the most valuable self reflection you can do.   In order to have fulfillment and perform at a high level in any field requires a good match between natural talents and what you do. 

If your energy is being sucked dry at work, this may be good reason to engage with some self examination.   To find awareness of your strengths and connect this to work you love, make an appointment for a self reinvention coaching session.    During this discovery session, you will get insights to know if your just having a bad day or deeper problems exist with a career or business mismatch.  

Life is too short to for work you don’t love.   Developing awareness of your natural gifts, talents and passion will provide insights for selecting work you love and help avoid losing years in a career that might be sucking you dry.