When we are young, our dream jobs seem achievable. We will all be star sports players, presidents of the United States, or Astronauts. At that age we do not grasp the reality of the work force, nor do we consider inconsequential things like paying rent or buying food to survive due to the fact that we will have miraculously come into enough money for massive mansions.

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By the time we hit the job market our naivety has been set to right, so much so that many people often enter into financially lucrative careers with little regard to short term or long term personal happiness. This move can lead to regret later in life. In order to circumvent these circumstances, people need go through a mental and physical checklist before they become entrenched in a career, regardless of societal pressures. Too many times people get trapped into the wrong career based on faulty reasoning.

Good and Bad Reasons

Our own personal reasons for pursuing and accepting a career are varied. How “smart” the career is to pursue is dependent on individual circumstances and how they will feel about the career now and in years to come.

In general, pursuing a career for “bad” reasons can lead to an unfulfilled life. You spend too much time at work to purely base you career decision on any one of these reasons:

  • The job comes with a high salary.
  • The job has been a family tradition for generations.
  • The job market predicts an increase in demand for the position.
  • You really need a job.

In general, pursuing a career for any of these “good” reasons can lead to a higher chance of personal happiness, although financial riches will not always follow:

  • You find the work fulfilling.
  • The work required on the job coincides with personal hobbies.
  • You’ve always dreamed of the career.

Despite the adjectives good and bad, pursuing a career for those reasons will not guarantee personal misery or happiness.  Good reasons can lead to the individual being unable to earn enough to provide for themselves and their family. Bad reasons can lead to a hatred of the job. If you find yourself in these circumstances you may need to choose a less ideal career. At times choosing a financially and personally lucrative career is about compromise.

How Do You Know a Career is Right for You?

Due to how varied people are, there is not one right career. If you properly prepare yourself, you should be able to ascertain how you will feel about a career before you submit your first application. Here are some methods to help you pin point if you will enjoy the career before you start.

Explore Careers in High School:

Many United States High Schools haveclasses that prepare students for careers and college courses after high school. Instead of choosing easy classes to flesh out your high school schedule, you can choose classes that offer a taste of various careers.

Explore Careers in College:

College classes offer students the ability to take classes outside the usual curriculum. You may be in college for an information technology degree, but most four year universities require students to take classes outside their chosen field. You can use this opportunity to explore alternate careers. You may stumble on a career that you can enjoy for years to come. Even if you do not have enough credits for this method, you can obtain permission to take part in the class without college credit.

Volunteer and Internships:

School will only allow you to get a sense of the intellectual work that will be involved. If you volunteer at a hospital or an animal center before pursuing a medical or vet career, you can get a better sense of what the job will involve. You may not be able to directly experience what will be expected of you, but you will be able to observe or engage in some of the tasks that your future employer will expect.  If all else fails, employers like to see volunteer experience and internships on your resume.

A person’s career is a major aspect of their life. An individual will spend a good portion of their life at least 40 hours a week at work. While money is necessary to survive, it is important to choose a career that will lead to at least a degree of personal fulfillment.  By knowing your reasons for accepting a job and exploring your chosen career before beginning the job, you can discover the intellectual or personal price of accepting a job before you have invested time and money towards it.