When you are trying to decide what career you want, it is important to first have some goals and priorities for your life (both professional and personal) mapped out. When you know what you want, it is easier to narrow down career choices and decide on one.
You know the old interview question, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” This is a question applicable to setting career goals as well. Some people want to climb a corporate ladder, have prestige and more money. Some people want to have a challenge every day when they go to work. Others want a flexible job they enjoy so that they can also spend time raising a family. Think about factors such as stability, finances, opportunity for personal and professional growth and training and schedule as you write your long-term goals.
Even if you do not know a specific occupation you want, lay out what your ideal job looks like. It may be behind a desk, outside, have a standard schedule or night shifts, if you are a night owl. Think about salary and how much you will need to comfortably live. It might be in the public or private sector, for a small or large organization. Write a list of the characteristics you most want from a job.
Next, it is important to isolate some career options you may be good at and enjoy. Take some career tests to give you ideas of jobs that would be good fits for you and help you identify the things that motivate you in a job. Research the jobs by reading job descriptions of them in the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics or in an online job board or other site where a company is hiring for that position. Free career tests are available online from Career Path and Color Wize.
Once you identify a few long-term career goals, such as being promoted to manager within five years or starting your own business, the next step is to identify short-term goals that will help you reach the long-term ones. Decide what you have to do to reach your long-term goals. You may need to research small businesses and the industry in which you want to start one. You may need to find a college to attend with a good program in the major you will need to enter the industry you want to work in. You could also need to find a short-term job you enjoy and that fits with your schedule to help pay the bills while you go to college to earn your degree or work on building your business on the side. Set deadlines for meeting your short-term goals and write them down to help you reach your longer-term goals.