Choosing your future career can be a stressful process, but there are resources that can make it easier for you. If you're in school, your college's career center is a great place to start. They'll likely use an online career assessment program to help you identify careers that match your strengths and interests.
These assessments suggest careers for you based on your answers to a series of questions. If you're not in school or unable to access one of these programs, don't worry—you can replicate part of their process on your own to put yourself on the right track. Here are some simple things you can ask yourself to help you decide your career's next steps.
1. What Do You Like To Do?
Try not to overanalyze the question. Don't think about what people have said you're good at, what you majored in during college, or what you think you should like to do. In fact, it might even help to not think about the question in terms of career choice, at least at first. Just ask yourself, plain and simple, "What do I like to do?"
2. What Are You Good At?
Chances are what you're good at and what you enjoy doing are closely related. This, of course, isn't the case for everyone. There are lots of people who are good at things they don't enjoy. If you're one of them, that's OK. Maybe you just need to spend more time thinking about what you enjoy.
3. How Much Money Do You Want To Make?
There's no shame in wanting a career in which you can make a lot of money. As studies have shown, money can indeed make you happy—to a point, anyway.
By the same token, money isn't everything. If you think you'd be happier doing something you truly love and not making all that much money, that's a good thing that can help guide you to the right career for you.
4. What Kind Of Work Environment Best Suits You?
Your work environment can encompass everything from location (small regional office, big city, somewhere in between) to what style of work you think you'd like. Do you want flexible hours and deadlines or something more regular—like a 9-to-5 job with fixed deadlines? Do you want to travel for work? How well do you deal with stress? Do you need lots of social interaction with colleagues or clients? Do you even want to be in an office?
Right now, you certainly don't need answers to all these questions—or even any of them. They are just guides to help you get started. There are plenty of other ways to explore your career options.
Another way to explore potential career paths is to go to job fairs. They're great opportunities to learn everything you can about jobs that might be interesting to you. You'll also be able to ask people who work in the field specific questions about their jobs.
The Bottom Line
No matter how you go about finding your career path, the most important thing is to keep it all in perspective. Your choice won't be set in stone. Most people change careers several times during their lives, and there's a good chance you could be one of them. So focus on a career that makes you happy now, and worry about the future later.