Evaluate Your Needs and Expectations to Find the Right Career Path

“I love my job,” is something that almost every worker wants to be able to say. Chances are, if you work full-time, you’ll spend more time every day at your workplace with co-workers than you will at home with friends and family. Liking what you do for a living seems important.
But there’s a big difference between liking your job and having a career that fulfills you professionally and personally. If your salary or schedule complicate your lifestyle, or if you’re working so much that you never do anything else, loving your job can come with huge drawbacks.
You can definitely find a happy medium, though, by evaluating your personal needs and expectations before heading into a career path. Start with these steps to find a good balance between work and life.

1. Calculate your monthly expenses. In a basic way, what’s the minimum amount of money that you need to make to sustain your lifestyle? Consider housing, food, utilities, transportation, personal goods and entertainment. It’s a good idea to add a little bit of padding, too, so you can plan to save.

2. Describe your ideal work scenario. What kind of setting do you want to work in? What interactions would you like to have with your co-workers? What are your ideal hours? What attire do you want to wear each day?  Do like a lot of activity, or do you prefer a quiet environment? How much supervision do you want to have from (and possibly for) others?

3. Determine the single most important thing about a job. Are you primarily concerned about income, or are you looking for success in terms of helping others or being creative, regardless of money? Do you prefer the thrill of competition or the satisfaction of a job well done?

4. Compare these results to what your skills and personal assessments say about you. Those tests will determine which fields might best interest you, and they may help you understand some of your personal attributes better.

When you line up all of your results, you should start to see where your personal needs and expectations align with career options. If you’d like to explore more about those fields, review our industry sector profiles, or move on to our section on education and training options to see how to get started in the right career for you.