What should I do for a living?
Wondering what your dream job is?
In this article, we’ll help you discover what job or career path most suits you. We’ll cover everything you need to be able to figure out your job or career preferences and offer some tips on navigating today’s job marketplace.
Whether you’ve just finished college and you’re looking to start your first career, or you already have a career path, but you want a change, it’s important to make sure that you’re going to enjoy whatever it is you do.
Shelter and financial security are, of course, crucial, but it’s also important for your mental and emotional health and well-being to be happy with what you do for a living.
Should I love my job?
They say that if you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s not entirely true, but it makes a good point.
Of course, any job worth doing requires hard work, but when your job aligns with your values, ideals, and goals, work becomes a source of enjoyment.
Many of us find ourselves in jobs we don’t entirely love. We work to make money so that we can support ourselves, our family, and our future.
However, when our job doesn’t align with our passion, work can become a source of dread. It can be hard to find the motivation to keep working in a job that we don’t love, even though there are bills to pay and a mouth (or mouths) to feed.
We spend so much of our time and lives at work, so it is ideal to find something that you enjoy doing.
You may not love every aspect of your job but if you enjoy the work or you enjoy the environment/colleagues you work with, then work can become so much more enjoyable and you may have found yourself a fulfilling career.
Should I follow my passion?
Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to follow your passion. It can be hard to find a job that feels perfect, but when you do, it can be life-changing.
You can pour your heart and soul into your work because you know that you find joy in it and you get a sense of meaning and life purpose.
So, when you imagine working at your dream job, what are you doing?
Are you jet-setting across the globe to attend important conferences, events, and meetings? Are you waking up every day to help others?
Are you a performer or entertainer? A painter?
Do you want to run your own business and be your own boss?
There are so many potential career paths, and it can be hard to choose just one. In this article, we’ll help you narrow down your choices and find out which job or career would suit you best to do for a living, whether you’re just starting or you want to find a new career.
Throughout this article we will emphasize the importance of finding your passion, but don’t get too hung up on finding a job that fits perfectly with what you’re passionate about.
When things go well, and you find a job or career path that suits you, you can later align it with your passion. Over time you may gain some creative control in your role, and you may notice that your job and passion can co-exist.
What should I do for a living and other questions you need to ask yourself
Below we have outlined some essential considerations for figuring out what you want to do with your life. Before we get into these tips, let’s explore the first and most important step – being honest with yourself.
All of the questioned outlined below will require a no-holds-barred, honest, and authentic look inward to discover what matters to you.
If you’re currently in a job, be honest with yourself about how it makes you feel. Can you see yourself working at the same job in five years? Or even next year?
Are you at this job or studying for this degree in order to fulfill someone else’s expectations? Are your salary expectations being met? Is it time to reinvent yourself?
Dive into your exploration heart-first and let your head follow after.
1. What do you love to do?
Looking inward can seem like a daunting task but the good news is that it will help you determine which direction, dream job or career path you would like to explore.
Again, you may find all the inspiration you need on day one, but try not to lose patience if you don’t figure it all out immediately. Some people find what they love to do in their twenties, while others only make this discovery in their forties, fifties, or sixties.
Many of us find something we love to do at one stage of our lives, but our goals and preferences change as we enter different life stages, and the job or career trajectory no longer serves us, so we seek something new and fulfilling.
Remember that age doesn’t matter and the same goes for a job title which sounds like it’s on the upper steps of the corporate ladder. If you spend your whole life-changing jobs and re-evaluating how you spend your time so that what you do aligns with your dreams and core values, you will not have wasted your time because when you eventually do what you love, time won’t matter.
The first thing to do is to get a notebook and a pen. Get a brand new notebook if you can, and keep it as a journal.
You may figure out what you want to do in one sitting, but it’s more likely that consistent journaling, introspection, and self-interviewing will enlighten you on your life’s purpose after some time.
Commit to writing in your journal as much as possible. One reflective, introspective entry per day is great, but if that’s not possible, then two to three times a week is also good. If you go deep and honest every time, once a week will suffice.
In your journal, ask yourself the questions outlined in the rest of the article. Don’t be afraid to write from the heart, and understand that your answers may change over time.
There is no need to be consistent, and in your efforts to do so, neglect new moments of self-discovery that may contradict what you’ve written previously.
Sometimes looking inward reveals dreams, core values, and ideals that are not our own but that have been programmed into our thinking by society, parents, or other influences.
In the process of your journaling, you allow yourself to truly discover who you are and what you stand for. Hopefully, you will also discover what you want to commit your time and energy to make a living.
2. What will you do if money is not an issue?
This question may seem irrelevant. Of course, money is an issue. We all have bills to pay, and we simply can’t get by without earning our way.
However, this question is very important. If you can identify what you will do with your life regarding your career, money issues regardless, you will have discovered something very important. You will have discovered what you love to do.
If it isn’t for money, what will you wake up to do every day?
Will you spend your free time painting beautiful landscapes? Will you volunteer at a local charity as much as possible?
Will you work on film sets? Play music?
Is project management something that interests you?
Will you become a registered nurse or substitute teacher? Cook delicious meals? Spend your time playing video games? Influence others on social media and grow your social media presence?
3. What are your core values?
Identifying your values will help you gain a lot of valuable insight into which path you should take regarding your career and how you’re going to make a living.
If you manage to align your work with your values, it will become all the easier to get up every day and feel energetic, content and motivated to go to work.
For example, if you value making a lot of money, then you will need to search for high paying jobs.
Whatever the reason behind wanting all that money is uniquely yours. For some, the desire to make a lot of money comes from a deeper desire to help and support one’s family.
For others, it’s to feed their retirement dream. For others, it’s to create a financial cushion and alleviate worries and anxiety about a future in which they don’t have enough to get by.
If you value helping those in need, then you may still want a high-paying job (who doesn’t?), but you may also want to find work that lets you help people. You may enjoy a job as a customer service representative or join the healthcare industry. If you want to experience more adventure and adrenaline in such a role, you can consider becoming a paramedic or a firefighter.
If one of your values is to help children, then becoming a teacher or a child counselor may be more up your alley. Or perhaps you’d like to write or illustrate children’s books as a means of expanding the world and imagination of the children who read them.
If your values are based on creation and expression, a job in the arts may suit you best. Perhaps you want to become a performer, such as an actor or singer, or take more control and become a director or filmmaker. Maybe you’re a skilled painter and can make enough money by selling your artwork or creating artwork on commission.
4. What are your skills and strengths?
Just as important as recognizing and identifying your values, it’s important to recognize your skills.
What skills do you have now that you can apply any time and on which you can capitalize?
Are you skilled at managing people, leading teams, or organizing large groups? Or are you skilled at solo work, taking on a big task all by yourself, and staying motivated and disciplined enough to get it done effectively?
Perhaps you’re a skilled linguist and can offer translation services. Are your writing skills above average? You may find work you enjoy creating content for niche companies, such as blogs, sales posts, or you may get by selling short stories to publishers.
Do you have an eye for visuals and the knowledge to use creative programs? Perhaps you can commit your time to animation and illustration.
Understand that even if your skills and strengths seem limited, you can build and develop them. No one is born with the skills necessary to make a living in today’s world.
These skills are learned over time and with consistent practice. Therefore, you can learn new skills (there are many online courses available) and get so good at them that you can monetize them.
5. What do you NOT want to do?
Hate the idea of wearing a suit and tie to work every day?
Do you dread sitting in an office to make your living? Or would you rather not have to travel through noisy traffic morning and evening just to get to and from work?
Do you like to have fixed hours like a 9 to 5 job or do you prefer a more flexible schedule?
As useful as it is to try and figure out what you want to do for a living, it’s just as useful to narrow down your options by eliminating jobs and careers that you will rather avoid.
For example, if you don’t like the hustle and bustle of city life, then a job in a tall central skyscraper probably will not suit you. On the other hand, if you love city life, you probably will not enjoy a rural job like farming or any other agricultural endeavors.
6. What opportunities do you have?
Other than identifying your dream job, you also need to find out what jobs are available. Research the marketplace to check for job openings, then narrow down which opportunities are high-paying or are within your area.
Are you prepared to travel for work? Would you move to a new city or a new country? Are you willing to upskill with a training course that may take a year or more to secure that new job?
Take a free online career/personality assessment quiz
If you have free time on your hands, you may want to take an online test to determine which career you can pursue. While an organization may administer their sills inventory test, here are some examples of assessments available online.
Glassdoor Career Quiz
Glassdoor is an American website that helps job seekers gain important insight into companies which they may consider applying for. The site features genuine reviews and company information to offer transparency to users about the companies they may want to, or about to work for.
The website’s blog section offers an insightful career quiz to help you figure out what job is best for you. Questions in the quiz include:
‘What is your biggest strength at work?’
‘What’s the one thing you’d change about your current job if you could?’
‘Which set of traits best describes your ideal employer?’
Truity Psychometrics publishes online personality and career tests. Their Career Personality Profiler is a simple, short test you can take for free. This career assessment tool relies on a self-report of a combination of one’s work preferences and personality types to offer a detailed description of which type of career would most suit the user.
The results are based on Holland Codes – a system used to classify people according to their personality to find suitable career types, first developed by academic psychologist Dr. John L. Holland.
Truity’s career assessment test also focuses on six key interest areas to broaden your perspective on which job or career would be appropriate and enjoyable for you; the six areas of interest are:
You may have heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test. INFP? ENTJ? The results of this personality typology test show users’ typical behaviors and traits regarding how they see the action in the world, including their psychological preferences.
While the results are limited to 16 different personality types, far too few to account for the 7 billion people on the planet, and every person has unique preferences and perceptions; they are still worth considering.
The self-report questionnaire offers a comprehensive breakdown of each personality type’s most common traits, behaviors, and personal references across several life areas, including relationships, strengths and weaknesses, and career suitability.
For example, people who fall under the INFJ category are typically empathetic to others, which makes them apt candidates for jobs and careers in mental healthcare, expressive arts, human resources, and social care, among many others.
The ENTJ personality type, also known as ‘Commander,’ is known for being extroverted and intuitive and a skilled judge. Thus, ENTJ personality types suit careers in teaching, politics, law, and science.
Of course, if you take the test and find out that you have one personality type, but you don’t like the sound of the career matches, don’t take it too seriously. Nobody fits neatly into a personality type box.
Still, the answer may inspire you to work towards a potential new career, and if not, they’ll help you eliminate some possibilities.
Research the marketplace
Other than finding your passions and interests as they relate to a potential career, you also need to find out what jobs are available.
Who’s hiring? Which jobs are in high demand? What kind of salary can you expect? What skills, strengths, and experience do you need for a particular job?
It helps to do some research before investing a lot of time and effort into a new job or career type. You’ll want to ensure that the finer details of the job or career align with your values and viable opportunities – such as where you live, how much spare time you’ll have, and how much you can earn.
Check out the following for some tips on marketplace research:
- Figure out which jobs are in high demand (e.g., healthcare)
- Figure out which markets are saturated
- Understand the educational background and skill set required for certain jobs – Is a college degree required?
- Reach out to people you know who already work in your desired field for insight and advice
- What are the personal risks involved in a career change?
- Is it necessary for your job to perfectly align with your passion? Or would you mind working a different job as long as you have enough time to follow your passion outside of work?
Look to the future
If you’re of a younger demographic, it may be worth considering the types of jobs and careers that will be popular in the future. For example, you may be able to afford to use the next five or so years to upskill, educate yourself, and work your way into a job that will be in high demand in five or ten years.
Healthcare, for example, will always be in high demand for employees. Exponential advancements in technology make software developers and information technology specialists viable career options. The climate crisis means that jobs in alternative energy are more important than ever.
With any business owner, real estate agent, and even those offering trade jobs going online, social media marketing campaigns are necessary to be on the prospective customers’ radars. As such, new job roles such as influencers, social media marketing managers, and email marketing specialists, among others, have been up for grabs.
Often we don’t know which jobs we like best and which suit us the best until we try them first-hand. You may never have seen yourself working as a tour guide, an events organizer, or a carpenter; until one day, you found yourself with the opportunity to give it a go.
Dabbling in a few different areas can help you discover what you are really passionate about.
Seek out which jobs are hiring in your area that require minimal experience, and try your hand at as many jobs as possible. If you don’t have the time or resources to try different careers, experiment with different roles at your current job.
Are there other positions open within the company that you think may suit you? Is your boss open-minded enough, and do they trust you enough to try a different role for the short term to see how well you do?
Are there courses in your area? Are there open training sessions taking place at work? One of the best ways to gain experience and broaden your imagination as well as your horizon regarding what you can do for a living is to gain as much experience as possible in different fields and roles.
Consult a career coach or counselor
If you’re feeling stuck on what to do, unhappy in your current career, or feeling a deep need for a career change, you may benefit from speaking to a career coach or specialist.
A career coach is a professional who can offer unbiased information and feedback regarding your career search based on a series of meetings and interviews.
A good career specialist will get to know you on a personal level as well as possible and go the extra mile to help you achieve that much-needed change in your life.
Changing careers is never easy. You may have a family to look after or a spouse who may not be able to fully support you through your career change.
A career specialist can help you take advantage of career search tools and opportunities to develop your skills, which goes a long way in helping you move closer to your goals.
What is career counseling?
A career counselor can also help you with your search for a new career. The job is similar to that of a career coach, but there are some distinct differences.
A counselor will usually administer some career/personality test (Truity, Myers-Briggs) to help you figure out your aptitude for certain roles.
A counselor will also take into account your previous job, your current position, and career experience. They may consider the obstacles in the way of you finding a job, such as a disability, personal responsibilities, or a lack of relevant experience.
They will support you in identifying your strengths and weaknesses, abilities, and talents. They will provide helpful tips on how you can efficientl search for career opportunities suitable for you.
There is a prevailing sense of urgency in the world today about doing a job you love and deep anxiety about working a job we don’t feel passionate about.
You should indeed live your life to the fullest, and part of that is aligning your values, beliefs, and passions with the work you do for a living, but try not to rush it.
It may take some time to figure out what you want to do. Not everyone gets to secure a job that suits their preferences in as easy as 1-2-3. Who knows, you may finally find job satisfaction at your next job? Enroll in online courses to harness your skills.
Remember that each person is unique and is entitled to live life at their own pace, so try not to compare yourself to others who have already found their niche.