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Good career choices: It’s about foundation

Good career choices: It’s about foundation

Career decisions can be exciting, excruciating, daunting and daring. I know that now.

With that in mind, I’m going to focus the upcoming blogs on establishing the foundations to enable good career choices in the midst of those emotions. This post is about accumulating the necessary self-knowledge to weigh up career decisions. I’ve learned that there are three key areas to assess.

The first is ensuring the ‘make up’ of the potential career path is a good one for you. To assess this, take a piece of paper and divide it in two. One one side, write down your best attributes and skills. These may be technical, inter-personal or soft. On the other side, put down your interest areas. These may be industry sectors, personal interest areas or something else. A good career path is one where the output of this exercise, or as much of the output as possible, is integrated into what you do.

The second factor is ensuring your career path accommodates your own priorities. First up is financial considerations. What are your current and anticipated financial commitments?  Next area to look at is personal priorities. What are your current or planned personal goals or ‘must dos’ you have set yourself?  Your career must facilitate you honouring/achieving the responses to these two questions.

The last area is understanding the values that you attach to your career.   Tomas Chamarro-Premuzic identifies three broader values that we follow, to differing degrees, in our careers. The first, status value, is where you’re driven to reach the highest possible position and/or to achieve the highest possible earning power. The next, affiliation value, is where you place great weight on feeling that your career is part of a greater goal or purpose. Finally, learning value is where you want your career to be built around creating a better understanding of an area or topic. Having an understanding of how strongly each of these values resonate with you is important in evaluating possible career paths.

Making a career decision, I’ve learned, is an imperfect process. By virtue of the fact that you’ve options leaves you open to the ‘grass is greener’ mentality. For example, I occasionally feel the pinch of not getting paid on the same day every month. There are also days I miss being in an organisation where I knew many of the people around the building (although getting to know the crew at the Bank of Ireland Innovation centre is a great offset to that).

The exercise above has enabled me to make a good career decision. And it allows me to rationalise those ‘grass is greener’ feelings when they arise as minority consequences of that good decision. And ultimately, all we can ever look for from an imperfect scenario is as much net positivity as possible in the outcome.

Are you weighing up career options? If so, have a go at self-assessing the three areas above. It’s actually fun to do (is that an uncool admission?:) ).