By: Jamie Birdwell-Branson
What do you want to be when you grow up? This simple question burns in the back of your mind through grade school, where you imagine you will grow up to be an astronaut or a princess (or perhaps you had a more realistic goal of being a teacher or a doctor). The question stays with you until college, where you pick a major and choose a path to go on. Maybe it’s something that you have wanted to be since you were a kid, or maybe it’s an interest that you cultivated just recently. Suddenly, you gain some steam on your path with a couple of internships and hopefully a job after you’ve graduated.
But how do you know that you have picked the right career? Sure, you accomplished your goal, which was to get a job. (That’s no small feat, by the way.) But how do you really know that what you have picked is the right choice for you?
1. You like going into the office. It sounds simple, but if you have a job that you dread clocking into every day, then it might not be the right fit. If you find yourself irritable after work hours or shedding a few tears on Sunday nights, then that’s a huge sign that the job just isn’t working.
2. The hours pass by quickly during the day. Everyone has slow days at work, but if your typical day consists of saying, “Wow, 11 a.m. already,” then you have found something that captures your interest and invokes a lot of thought. Take note, however, to not mistake being swamped for being engaged and interested in what you are doing.
3. You are excited to share what’s happening at work with a friend or a partner. If you tend to geek out and talk about your processes at work with someone who is unfamiliar, then you may have found a career that you love. Sure, they may not understand everything you’re talking about, but they can see that spark in you when you talk about your day, which is crucial.
4. You constantly think of ways to innovate or improve processes. You could sit and think for hours about how to improve things or make things better at the office. You have a lot of ideas and can’t possibly wait to tell your supervisor about them over lunch.
5. You think about what you want to accomplish out of your career before you go to bed/ when you wake up in the mornings. If you have a constant hunger for accomplishing new things at your job, then that’s a good sign that you picked the right career for you. Even if you don’t plan on staying at your current position forever, you think about ways that your job can help you in the future and how you can market yourself to different employees.
6. You have a lot of things in common with your coworkers. It’s unsurprising that many lifelong bonds are formed in the office. If you are all working on the same things, they most likely have the same goals as you.
7. You have a mentor in your field that you want to be like in five years. Seeing someone who is a few years ahead of you in their career and wanting to be like them is also a good sign that you have made the right choice. It’s always a great idea to have a confidant in your field and someone you can network with and get advice.
The most important thing to remember about your career is to make sure that it doesn’t completely define you. Many people don’t wake up in the morning excited to go to work and that’s okay. Make your life outside of work just as fulfilling as your career. Your work life may not be perfect, but if you are earning a fair wage and you work with great people, that can be just as good. However, as you grow older and actually dive into your career a little more you may feel like you need to make a change. Talk to a trusted friend or mentor to find out how to switch careers or how to get more enjoyment out of your current one.
Image courtesy of alexisdc/freedigitalphotos.net
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jamie Birdwell-Branson is a copy editor and freelance writer who lives in Ft. Worth, Texas with her cat and her husband. She is interested in writing about anything and everything, but she mostly enjoys to write about women’s issues and politics. She is an avid reader and a collector of magazines.