imathinkin imathinkin 51-55, F 9 Answers Aug 10, 2010

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Choosing a career is not a one time event. It is a continuous process, constantly evolving, and requiring you to be adaptable, flexible, and open to new opportunities. 20 years ago, there was no way to make a career in the Internet; how could anyone have predicted it? No one knows what’s going to happen 20 years from now either. You can’t plan for a successful career when the future hasn’t been invented yet.

You should have different strategies depending on where you are in life. Early in your working career, follow your dreams, aim high, and shoot for the stars. Go for it all – because you can. Nothing is holding you back. And if you fail or don’t achieve your goals, you have time to recover. At least you’ve tried to reach your dreams; you will not have any regrets later in life. If you set your sights too low at the beginning, then you have a good chance of hitting your target. You will never reach your full potential.

In the middle part of your career, you should be making decisions based on your life priorities and life situation. In the early stages of midcareer, you may want to build up your wealth, so find a job to make as much money as possible. As you start a family, job stability may become a more important factor. Then, as your children grow up, flexible work arrangements and benefits may become the deciding factors in your job choice.

In the latter part of your career, the right job will depend on the choices you have made to this point in your life. If you are financially independent, then follow your passion, do something you love, something that contributes to society. Pay is less important, so do something worthwhile. If you still need to make an income, then your options are more limited. Decide on a lifestyle you want to maintain – this may determine what kind of job you need to be looking for in order to support your chosen lifestyle.

I don’t believe there is “one career choice” that is right for all life stages. In real life, we all have to deal with curve balls, surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant), and unfair circumstances. The reality of today’s business world is that we will all have multiple careers. Choosing a career is less relevant today than in previous generations because we will be expected to change careers – sometimes by our choice, sometimes by our employer's choice. I think the most important factor is to be adaptable.

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You writing a book, Spencer from the Hills? :p

There's a lot of good thinkin goin on in those them paragraphs, and I am gleefully absorbing your thoughtful reply. However I meant something more like a checklist:

1) Income

2) Environment

3) Experience

4) Certifications

5) Enjoyable

and so on...I asked because I was preparing a career decision matrix and thought someone here might come up with something I overlooked. ;)

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The foundation upon which career choice is made consists of evaluating your interests, your abilities (real or perceived), and your values. Then, one should engage in a career decision-making process. I recommend something called Cognitive Information Processing (CIP) Along with the decision-making process, developmental considerations are made, along with stage-of-life realities.

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Exactly! That's precisely why I asked. You're pretty smart. You could probably end up commanding a science team, or become involved in space travel, with that kinda thinkin.

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Do what you love, and what you enjoy. This may not necessarily be what you are most talented in.

Look at it this way, most people who are working will spend 8 hours at work, 8 hours sleeping, and the precious few remaining hours will need to be taken up with everyday things like showering and eating. Why would you want to do something you don't enjoy for the rest of your life just to have a few hours to spend with all your money? The money isn't worth it if it comes with stress and unhappiness that you can't ignore. If you truly love doing something then you'll be much happier, and it will be a much more worthwhile life than if you simply chased after the money.

Take into account where each job will take you, what chances for advancement it has, and whether it's something you can really imagine spending the rest of your life doing. Take into account how reasonable it is and how likely you can find employment in it.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a computer programmer. I was told by many people that this would be an important career in the future, and I would make a lot of money. I went along with that until college, when I discovered a love for human languages rather than just computer languages, and I realized that if I spent all my life in front of a computer I would never really life my life in the way I want to. I realized that learning languages would give me opportunities to travel and meet new and interesting people and broaden my horizons. I studied in Japan and now I'm in China. Translating human languages isn't as simple as writing computer programs, and I probably would have been a better programmer, but studying languages has given me a new life that I really cherish. Now many programming jobs are being done cheaply in India anyway, so I think in the end my career choice was the right one for me.

I hope you can find the right career for you, too. Good luck.

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Thanks for a thoughtful answer.

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Both interest and aptitude in a certain field should be high, in order for you to be successful.

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Consider what you like to do, what you feel like you could do for years and be happy with. It may not be the most lucrative, but in the long run it's the best.

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The absolute truth about one's self in every respect.

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