This article is part of our new Career Tips resource center!
I used to think the sole purpose for having a job was to bring home enough money to pay the bills and live comfortably. But after obtaining the “American Dream” and still feeling unhappy and unsatisfied with my life, I wanted more.
Can you relate?
Your career is a huge part of your life – if not the biggest part. It’s where you spend most of your time and energy. So, if you’re not happy with the job you work at every day, it’s time to find a career that is right for you – one that really pays.
Whether you’re looking to enter the workforce for the first time or contemplating a career change, the first step to choosing a fulfilling career is to uncover what gets you excited about waking up for work every day.
Look for Meaningful Work
Maybe you feel burned out and frustrated, anxious, or unable to enjoy time on Sunday night knowing that Monday is fast approaching. If you don’t find your work meaningful and rewarding, it’s hard to keep the momentum going in your career.
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You’re more likely to be successful in a career that you feel passionate about. This is why finding meaningful work is so important – and don’t think that getting paid a lot of money will make your work worth it.
As someone who worked 7 days a week for several years, earning extra money is great, but when you don’t have time to spend it or enjoy yourself, what’s the point? Your career needs to produce more than just a paycheck.
Focus on What You Enjoy
What’s something you’ve dreamed of doing? What comes naturally to you that others might not enjoy doing? Take note of projects you work on in your spare time, or hobbies you indulge in when you get the chance.
Once you ask yourself why certain activities make you happy, focus on those skills, talents and activities, and spend less time on what makes you unhappy.
Evaluate Your Skills
While you’re thinking about your skills and talents, consider all types of activities including volunteering, hobbies and life experiences. Don’t limit yourself to the experiences at your job.
For example, even if you don’t have formal education or tons of experience, you can still start a book club or organize a charity drive. Put your skills into practice and start networking with other like-minded people.
Increase Your Knowledge
Some fields require specific education or skills, such as an educational degree or training. But in many cases it’s just as easy to get a certificate or take a class, that will give you many of the same qualifications.
You might be able to do night classes or part-time schooling so you can continue to work, while increasing your knowledge and thereby increasing your value in the workplace. Some companies even offer tuition reimbursements if you stay at the company after you finish your education.
Research the programs available in your community. Community colleges and libraries often offer low cost opportunities to strengthen skills in computers, basic accounting, or starting a business. Local Chambers of Commerce, Small Business Administrations, or state job development programs are also excellent resources.
Utilize Your Current Position
Does your day job offer on-the-job training or opportunities to do projects that develop new skills? Take the initiative to be a problem solver, no matter what your position in the company is. Luck favors the prepared, so develop the skills needed to be a go-getter and practice adapting to new situations.
I like to think of my day job as a springboard for funding my freelance business. My accounting job gives me stability, a steady paycheck and a regular schedule, while my freelance career is riskier and much more creative. It’s the best of both worlds! Utilize and leverage your current position to your advantage.
Be Patient and Don’t Rush
You might have to go down a few different roads before finding the right career path. I’ve gone from bookkeeping to taxes, to handling personal finances, to small business accounting. So learn to be patient and understand that it will take some time and thoughtful planning, to identify what you truly enjoy doing.
If you’re stressed and unhappy with your current job, you’re probably feeling a lot of pressure to make a quick change. However, without giving yourself the proper time to research, you might end up in an even worse position than before. So, ease into your new career slowly.
Take time to network, volunteer, and even work part-time in your new field before committing fully. It will not only be an easier transition, but you will have time to ensure you are on the right path.
Image credit: kurhan