When you’re in college or even in school, no one really teaches you about finding your own career path — not the one that pays more money, or that requires less years of study, or even seems to be the most comfortable to take.
When I decided to graduate in Accounting in college, it wasn’t the promise of cracking down numbers all day long that kept me going. Instead, it was what just about everyone else told me about it: “It’s a great field!” or, “You’ll make good money,” or better, “You’ll never lack of a job.” For all these reasons and the prospect of not having to live on Ramen noodles so I can buy more shoes, I did what any reasonable student would do.
What no one tells you about finding your career path is that it doesn’t have much to do with how much money you can make, or how much job stability you can get. Or even how many weeks of vacation you can score. It has to do with you! Surprised?
After all, it’s been proven that most people are financially satisfied after reaching the $75,000 salary cap. So if money is not really the ultimate denominator of career satisfaction, and finding your own career path has little to do with making sure that you’re chained to a desk for the rest of your life, what is everyone not telling you?
Here are 6 things to stop doing in order to find the career you want.
STOP ignoring yourself
We tend to listen to everyone else but ourselves. Everyone’s opinion is not worthy of being listened to or even considered. What motivates others is different from what motivates you. Instead of heeding everyone’s advice and ignoring your own, start listening to yourself more.
What motivates you? What excites you? What sets your soul on fire? Those signals from your soul are not to be ignored. It doesn’t mean you have to ditch your 9-to-5 to start a career in pottery. What it does mean, however, is that you have to integrate these signals into your daily life, whether it’s in your work, as a side hustle, or just as a hobby.
STOP ignoring your personality
Do you notice how every time you try to go against your personality and the way you truly are, you’re setting yourself up for disaster? Or at least for some serious disappointment and heartache along the way.
If you’re asking yourself how to figure out what really motivates you, and where your strengths, skills and interests lie, stop settling for the status quo and take action instead. Take a personality assessment to nail down those characteristics that set you apart.
There are a number of personality assessment tests, from the traditional Myers-Briggs test to other variation of it, to help you to identify your ideal careers and workplaces.
STOP thinking you can’t start over
One of the biggest obstacles to finding the career we want, is the false belief that once we’re established or have started in a certain field, we must continue in it! Actually, many successful people have reached optimum success and performance by being willing to start at the bottom again.
A great way to figure out your ideal career is to start interning. An internship can teach you things about a job, field or industry that a formal or informal interview cannot. Even if you’re already working full-time, you may be able to secure a part-time internship to help you find out more about the right career for you!
STOP trying to do it all on your own
It takes a village to build a successful career. This doesn’t only mean that you must have the support of your loved ones, family and friends. It also means that you must have the necessary career network to inspire and push you to succeed.
Look around you and identify someone in your desired career or field whom you admire. Ask them to be your mentor.
Seek sponsors in your current or desired environment, who can help open doors and bring about opportunities you couldn’t otherwise aspire to.
STOP failing to plan
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As cliché as this may sound, it’s the truth. Not planning and mapping your career path, even in spite of the changes and detours can deter you from finding the career you want.
Map out your career plan in light of your strengths, skills, talents and desires. Whether it’s making a lateral move, expanding your network, or starting from the bottom, have a plan to get to your career destination.
STOP thinking of your career as a straight path
Newsflash: your career is not a straight path. Actually, the straighter it may be, the more boring and un-challenging it may be for you. Instead of looking to turn your work into the most predictable and routine thing ever, don’t be afraid to face changes and challenges.
[Related: My Keys to Successful Career Transitions]
Dare to start over! Face the fear of starting a side hustle, creating a business, or even making a career transition to a brand new company or industry. Your career was never meant to be a straight path. The more detours you take, the richer, more compelling and more exciting your experience.
Solange Lopes is an author, CPA and writer/blogger. She blogs about career and lifestyle for professional women in her blog The Corporate Sister. She’s passionate about writing and women’s issues.