Most people don’t know enough about all their available options to make informed career decisions. To remedy that deficit, you’ll need to do some market research:

1. Start by making a general list of your personal and professional interests. Don’t omit any options because of preconceived notions about a field or industry.

2. Write down your number one interest and then consider it carefully. What is it about that area that most fascinates you? For example, a woman who loves cooking realized she’s particularly drawn to desserts because they appeal to both her sense of artistry and her sweet tooth.

3. Explore your interest more deeply, by researching the following:

Companies that produce related products or services

Schools that teach related skills

Types of jobs related to your interest

Names of specific people who work in the field

4. Set up an action plan—complete with realistic goals and timetables—to meet (or at least talk on the phone with) people who work in your targeted interest area. In your discussions, try to learn as much as possible about what these professionals are doing. Also ask for referrals to people working in related fields. After each meeting, take careful notes to consolidate your learning; then set new exploration goals.

5. When you’ve completed your research, listen to your gut. Does pursuing your targeted field still seem to be an exciting idea? If so, figure out what steps you’ll have to take to become a qualified candidate in that field.

6. If your answer is a more cautious “maybe,” determine what else you need to know to make an informed career decision. Then,make it your goal to get that data.

7. If you decide that your top interest doesn’t translate into viable career options, return to your list to determine your second, third, and even fourth choices. Then repeat the exploratory process until you find a promising direction.

8. If you’re still undecided after several rounds of this process, think more creatively about ways to combine your interests. The prospective pastry chef, for example, had a seemingly conflicting interest in weight management. By tying together her two interests, she developed a specialty in low-fat desserts

Source : How to be Happy at Work , by : Arlene .S Hirsch

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