Deciding what career you want to pursue can be a difficult decision. Besides money, quality of life offered by the career of your choice is a vital factor in making your decision. Picking which quality of life characteristics are most important to you will help you choose your career.
A career “is usually a long-term chosen profession or occupation that provides an income. Often there is a planned sequence of jobs as you build a career,” according to the Carolina organization’s website in its publication “Unit 2-A Career You Love.” Pursuing a career, then, can take up a significant part of your life. It is best to choose a career you will enjoy and be successful in from the beginning. However, that is not to say that you will be stuck with whatever career you initially choose for the rest of your life.
It is important to know what types of jobs the career you want typically leads into after so many years on the job. From the beginning of your career search, you should be aware of whether you want to move in the traditional career promotion path for your career. If you have a goal to be a nonprofit executive director, but you really like teaching ESL, you should weigh your decision carefully. Although you very well could end up forming your own nonprofit for ESL speakers, you may be much less well-equipped to manage it from a business standpoint if you jump from being an ESL teacher to running a nonprofit. You can choose your educational path based on where you ultimately want to end up.
You should consider whether you want a family and what type of family life you want to lead. If you already have a spouse and children, it is important that you consider the effects of your career on them. If you want to be home in the evenings with them or have the flexibility to homeschool your children, it might be a good idea to choose a career where you are not always on call or have to travel often. You may even want to start your own business so that you eventually can have the flexibility to take days off when you want to.
Where to Live
It is important to know whether you want to work locally or move to a specific location. You may also like to travel. These considerations help you to choose a career that is best for your personal tastes. If you are a nurse or other healthcare professional and you like to travel, you can work for a few weeks or months at a time in one city and then travel to the next, living in hotels and racking up per diem pay in addition to a salary instead of working in one hospital. Commute time is also important in choosing a career. If you really like living in a rural area, but hate driving an hour or more to work every morning, you may need to consider a job closer to home.
If you like the thought of controlling your own schedule and freelancing or consulting, remember that you are not likely to earn sick or paid vacation days in this type of career. You will probably also have to pay for your own health insurance as well as pay higher taxes than if you worked for a traditional employer. Flextime, job shares and other flexible work arrangements may also be important to you if you want to better balance your family and work lives.
The risk to your person is another factor to consider in choosing a job. Some jobs come with significantly higher risk for injury and sickness than others. You may have a more difficult time getting life insurance someday if you worked around dangerous chemicals or in a mine for twenty years. (See Reference 1.) Your health can be negatively impacted by some jobs, but if the safety precautions taken on the job are tone down the risk enough for you, and you are really interested in a particular career, it may still be the best career choice.
Also consider the level of autonomy and prestige you want in your career. Your ability to think for yourself and be creative may be important to you. Think about whether you like to work alone or on a team, as well as about the amount of education necessary to reach your career goal. If you do not want to be in school or training that long, you may need to consider another career path.