When you were a kid, you wanted to be an astronaut, then a superhero, then the president of the United States. Now that you’re an adult, you’ve likely scratched a few of those childhood fantasies off of your list, but choosing a career can still be difficult. In a world brimming with job possibilities, how do you figure out which one is right for you?
According to U.S. News & World Report writer Curt Rosengren, you can begin the process of evaluating a possible career by asking yourself the following series of questions. These queries won’t tell you exactly what you should do, but they’ll point you in the right direction and help you avoid landing in a stressful, go-nowhere job. Before you take a job, ask yourself:
1. Would This Work Energize Me? Forget the money and potential for advancement. First and foremost, you’ve got to ask yourself whether a career will make you feel enthusiastic and invigorated. “The job that’s truly best for you will have you falling in love with Monday morning,” Rosengren writes.
2. Would the Outcome Energize Me? Even if you enjoy the work, you need to ask yourself whether the outcome of that work—the objective you’re ultimately gunning for—is something that excites you. Do you want to help a company improve efficiency or become better organized, or are you more into helping coworkers explore their creativity? As Rosengren writes, you don’t need to save the world, but you need to figure out what truly compels, challenges, and engages you.
3. Will This Job Emphasize My Gifts? Just because you excel at something, it doesn’t mean you should do it for 40-plus hours a week. As Rosengren writes, the key is to find a job that will draw on the skills and talents you want to use.
4. Would This Job Bring Beneficial Growth? Just about any job offers opportunities for growth, but the key, Rosengren writes, is to look for “growth that you care about.” It all comes back to that question of what energizes you. Simply getting pay raises every now and then for 30 years isn’t enough.
5. Can I See Myself Doing This 10 Years From Now? The job you’re considering may seem great now, but close your eyes and fast-forward a decade. After doing the job every day for 10 years, will you still feel fulfilled and stimulated? “If it feels like a burden,” Rosengren writes. “that’s a good sign that there’s another career out there that’s best for you.”