How to Find the Right Career When You’re Undecided

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a question we have all been asked countless times from early childhood all through our school-age years, and sometimes even as adults!

It’s a great question, and probably one that you will want to explore regularly in your life.

Finding the right career even when you’re undecided can be a challenge, but one worthy of investing your time to discover.

Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life!

I will spare you platitudes like “do what you love and the money will follow.” But I do strongly encourage and promote the idea that you can “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life!”

To live a meaningful life filled with passion and make contributions worthy of your skills, talents, and abilities, you have to spend some time evaluating what you want out of your life and career. You will need to match your skillset and values with your position, which will take some thought and effort on your part.

If you want to know how to find the right career for you, read on.

How Often Do People Change Jobs?

We live in a unique time in history. Regardless of your level or specific area of education, you will have many choices in your life. You will probably hold many jobs (and possibly even multiple careers) throughout your lifetime.

Many people also choose to add to their education base more than once throughout their careers. This not only opens up more options but this also opens you up to more job or career changes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S.), the average person will change jobs 12 times in their lives.

Those statistics vary depending upon age bracket, gender, and geography but regardless of where you fit into the stats, it will be vital for you over time to continually hone your skills, add to your resume, and enhance your “hire-ability”.

Fortunately, with a little focus and effort, it is relatively simple to improve your skills and raise the bar on your education through the virtually endless options for personal development, business training, and general education online.

Why Do People Change Jobs so Often?

There are numerous reasons why people change jobs often, including:

  • More money and security
  • Benefits and perks
  • Satisfaction
  • Relocation
  • Layoffs and company consolidations
  • Better overall feeling of contribution
  • Feeling valued

…and those are just a few!

Regardless of whether you are happy in your current employment situation or you’re feeling like it is time for a change, there are ways you can find or create a more satisfying and personally fulfilling career.

In fact, there are far more opportunities now in our modern, globally-focused society to design the kind of career that can not only make you happy but also feel like you are contributing.

If you are on the hunt to find the right career, there are a few tips you should consider before settling on your next position.

6 Steps to Find the Right Career When You’re Undecided

1. Start With a Complete “Personal Inventory Exercise” (P.I.E)

Most people build their resume and job search parameters around their specific education and work experience. While the degree (or degrees) you have and your previous job experience are important, you also have an entire set of unique life experiences that contribute to what you know and how you operate in the world.

Don’t underestimate the value of your life experience.

When working with a new coaching client, the first thing I do is walk them through a Personal Inventory Exercise (or P.I.E., as in “all the pieces of your PIE”).

Begin by pulling out a sheet of paper, journal, or a blank document on your computer and just start writing.

Your P.I.E. should start with the obvious elements like your formal education and work experience (including paid and unpaid work, internships, literally every job you had all the way back to your paper route when you were 12, or selling Girl Scout cookies).

What have you learned from each of those?

Starting with your education is ideal because it is easy to remember and will help to get you into a good flow.

Then, just keeping writing.

Put down all the workshops, seminars, independent study, work-abroad programs, arts, music, writing, books you have read, and audiobooks you have heard.

You can also include intangible pieces of your PIE, like your relationships (friendships, romantic, marriage) and what you learned from them, like painful life experiences like the loss of close friends or family members and parenting skills.

Include also your travels and what you learned from other cultures, domestically or internationally.

When you finish, review everything, sum it all up in a few paragraphs and now you’re fully cocked and loaded for the next steps in your career discovery journey.

The ultimate purpose of doing this exercise is the profound insights you will glean from simply taking the time to realize just how valuable you are before you get started on your career search.

It forces you to see your own value based on a broader view. It allows you to see yourself as more than just a product of your formal education but also your ongoing life experience and independent interests.

You will likely be surprised and perhaps even amazed at what you discover through doing an exercise like the P.I.E.

2. Focus On Your Values

Understanding your core values will help you focus on the job you really want.

Your values determine what is most important to you in your life. More than you might realize, your underlying core values are also your ultimate drivers when it comes to decision-making.

For example, after exploring your core values, you may find that freedom and independence are important to you that you might decide to set aside the “job” market for an entrepreneurial pursuit.

So, spend some time getting clear about your personal and business values by asking yourself exploratory questions like these:

  • What is most important to you?
  • What drives and motivates you?
  • How important is money to you?
  • What kind of people do you prefer to work with?
  • What do you admire in others who work in your field?
  • Do you prefer to collaborate or work independently?
  • What is a “deal-breaker” for you? In other words, what types of situations (or people) will you absolutely NOT tolerate?

Understanding your own values is an essential element in this process.

Prospective employers often ask value-based questions in the interview process, so understanding your own values will help you in landing your ideal job or career once you have discovered what you want to do.

3. What Are Your Short And Long-Term Career Goals?

It is always surprising to me how many people I encounter who don’t know where they want to be in a year or two, or five years, or 20 years. After all, how will you get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going?

Setting specific goals help you stay focused on your desired outcome. Writing those goals down is vital to the process as well. With your personal inventory and values in place, it should be simple to start writing down your goals.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” ~ Napoleon Hill

One commonly used goal-setting tool is called SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Sensitive

Using the SMART goal system is a great place to start. You should also set specific goals in life categories beyond your career, like personal, spiritual, education, and any other area that is important to you.

While I am a firm believer in long-term goals, you can only take action in the short-term because, in reality, you can only work on today. So, having a system for tracking your goals daily is powerful. You might start with 90-Day or Quarterly (short, achievable), then 1-Year, 5-year, and 20-year goals.

This will give you both a short and long-term view of how you see your life unfolding, which will give you important insights on how to choose your career path.

4. What Kind of Career Do You Really Want?

With the foregoing in mind, now consider your ideal options.

Make a list of the possibilities that fit into your P.I.E. – your values and your goals – and then ask yourself the question that we started with:

“What do I really want to be when I grow up?”

Let that little kid in you just dream for a few minutes about the “perfect” scenario.

Imagine yourself in your perfect job environment, doing what you love to do (so you never work a day in your life).

What does that look like? How does it feel? What are you doing on a day-to-day basis?

Consider the type of work you have already done, and take note of what made you feel like you were accomplishing something important.

Which jobs did you do (or possibly observed others do) that were “in the zone” for you? If there was a certain part of your job that you always looked forward to doing, what was that?

5. Make a List of Possible Career or Job Options

Now that you have a clear picture of what you would like to be doing, you can start making a list of the possibilities that might fit those parameters.

List the careers you already know that fit the bill. Then, do some research to determine what else might be out there that you have not yet discovered.

Ask people in your network or on social media channels for information about those types of careers, or who they know that might be currently doing what you want to do.

“Who do you know?” is a very powerful question to ask your friends, family, business contacts, and social media connections.

When you track down a few of the people who are either doing what you do, working at a firm that you are considering, or know someone who is, have a conversation with those people and ask questions to gain insights about that particular job or career.

Once you have performed your research, then you’re ready to take your final step.

6. Choose the Options That You Think Will Work Best for You and Go For It!

Now for the fun part! Make a list of your chosen options in order of top priority. Then simply set your targets and start connecting with the companies on your list that have openings in your field (or might in the near future).

You can once again contact people in your network, and ask that magic question:

“Who do you know at [this company]?”

In your research process, you probably even made some new contacts that might help you go in the right direction or refer you to the right person to contact for an interview.

Good Luck on Your Search for the Right Career!

All of these empower you when it comes to finding your ideal career path. The previous six steps are designed to give you more clarity about what you really want to be doing.

Depending on what you are seeking, it may not always be easy to hit the bulls-eye on the first time out. But remember that clarity and focus allow you to keep your eye on the prize.

Keep up your persistence and go after what you really want, so you can live a life that brings you satisfaction and purpose through your chosen career path.

More Tips on How to Find the Right Career

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

Effective vs Efficient

Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”

A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

  • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
  • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
  • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

Efficiency in Success and Productivity

Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

Bottom Line

Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

  • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
  • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
  • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

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