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How to find a career that is right for you

How to find a career that is right for you

With the average American spending 9-10 hours a day at work so 40-50 a week, it would be nice to find a job where you aren’t miserable. In fact, it would be really great to have a whole career that makes you happy, but finding that — and realizing when you have — isn’t always easy.

According to a 2012 report released by Gallup, there are twice as many “actively disengaged” workers in the world as there are “engaged” workers who love their jobs. And in the U.S. in particular, 52 percent feel pretty blah about their job and 18 percent actively hate them. But 30 percent are quite happy when it comes to work. If you’re lucky, you are part of that 30 percent, but thanks to self-doubt or the grass always looking greener elsewhere, you may not even know it. Here are seven signs you have found your calling.

1. You don’t get the Sunday blues.

“A clear sign you like your job is that you don’t have Sunday night anxiety,” Megan Broussard, founder of ProfessionGal, a career site for women, told Bustle. “People in jobs they hate often spend the whole weekend stressed because they’re dreading work on Monday. If the extent of your Sunday depression is, ‘Ugh, I’d so much rather watch 20 episodes of Scandal tomorrow than work,’ you’re doing well.”

2. You don’t mind putting in extra effort.

Every job involves annoying and challenging tasks, but you realize that is just a part of the bigger picture and you sign up for extra work. Simone N. Sneed, founder of Advice For A Brilliant Life, an online destination for socially conscious professionals who want to excel, told Bustle,”If during challenging times you find yourself digging in and stepping up rather than opting out, you’ve found a career that you love.”

3. You are one with your company.

Broussard told us that you know you’re on the right path when “you feel like the company you work for is your own, and you truly feel the ups and downs of the work you do because you truly care.”

4. You can finally afford the things you want.

Of course, if you truly are happy in your career, money usually isn’t the reason, but it can be one of them. It is great when you have a job that allows you to live the lifestyle you want, or at least get close to it.

5. You talk about your job all the time.

If you’ve ever hated your job, you know how much complaining career dissatisfaction provokes. But if you actually enjoy your job, you tend to be equally vocal about it. You know you’re in the right gig, said Broussard, when “you are the only happy one at happy hour because everyone else is drinking to wallow after a bad day. You’re pumped you’re so lucky to do what you do.” Just be careful about talking too much about how you love, love, love your career. All of those miserable people at the bar may not want to hear it.

6. You tell other people they should work at your company.

This is a big one. If you are truly happy with your company, you encourage other people to apply. You find yourself at brunch describing what solid people your coworkers are, the company’s bright financial future, the value of its mission, and listing the many, many perks. (Did you mention the frozen yogurt machine?) Basically you talk about your job like it is your latest crush, says Broussard.

7. You’re a little scared.

Nicole Williams, the bestselling author of “Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success,” and Secret’s Career Confidence Coach told Bustle, “Don’t misinterpret nervousness and stress as [evidence of] being in the wrong job.” It may be “due to the fact that you’re really excited about performing well, feeling challenged or even a little out of your league. These are actually signs that you’re in the right job,” Williams said. Remember, it is always good to be a little scared in your career. Comfort can quickly turn to boredom. “If you don’t feel a little nervous and stressed, it indicates that your job is not challenging enough or that you don’t have enough passion for either the industry or company to make it work in the long run,” she added.

The wrong job is more often packaged in boredom, a lack of stimulation and/or passion for what you’re doing. A lack of emotional or intellectual investment is a sure sign that it’s time to move on.

Getting Started on Your Career Search
In order to find a great new career, you need to identify four things: your skills, your goals, your likes and dislikes, and your needs. If this sounds daunting, there are many career planning counselors and dozens of books available that can help you to identify your ideal career. The most venerable of the career guidance books, What Color is Your Parachute, has been in print for over thirty years. Many career experts agree that it is a great place to start your career search.

Once you have landed on a short list of careers that seem like good fits, contact people who have those careers. If you do not already know someone in your desired fields, talk to your friends and family to see if they know anyone. Consider using your Army connections to find other veterans who have chosen career paths that appeal to you. Set up informational interviews, and bring a list of questions about the job with you. Most people enjoy helping out someone who is new to their industry, and you will gain a great sense of their day-to-day duties by talking with them.

Consider Your Education Options
Once you know what career you would like to pursue, it pays to check out your educational options. For careers in most fields, you will need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. If you do not have the degree necessary to get the job of your dreams, don’t be discouraged. Flexible night and weekend classes and online courses mean that you can work toward your degree while you finish your military career or work at a civilian job during the day. Plus, the military will usually offer tuition assistance to help you to pay for your degree. Look into programs that pay part or all of your tuition, such as the Montgomery GI Bill.

If you do your research, you might find that you are suited to careers you have never considered before. The key to finding a satisfying career after your military service is to remain flexible and open to all sorts of possibilities.

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How do I choose the right career?

I thought I had chosen the right career path, realized it was WRONG, and then went through a process that I WISH I had done sooner! It put me in my dream career with the kind of lifestyle I want. Here is what I did:

Step 1: Figure out what you love

What do you love?

  • Maybe you love numbers, statistics, public speaking, event planning, design, debate, nature…make a list of everything.
  • Ask other people casually what their jobs entail and what they love about them. We are generally not exposed to a lot of the different interests of the working world – so much of our education is focused around primary subjects like math, humanities, and science. So get curious.
  • For me my top 3 interests were Journalism, music, and psychology.

Make a list of potential jobs:

    For psychology I looked into: School psychologist, market researcher, academic researcher, human capital consulting, advertising, sales, therapist, HR/recruiting

Research the ones that sound interesting to you

  • Search for blogs, article, and job descriptions online to get a sense of the line of work
  • Also how in-demand and fruitful is each career? How much do they get paid? How many openings are there? How competitive is it to get into the industry?

Step 2: After you have this research, narrow down your list by being honest with yourself about finding the center of the Venn diagram

Scrutinize each potential path:

  • What you love
  • What you can be the best at
  • What pays well

How to find a career that is right for you

I did this exact exercise and completely ruled out two of my passions and changed my major. Watch this video to hear how I worked through this diagram.

Step 3: Do informational interviews

Based on your research of careers, do informational interviews for the careers that sound interesting to you. This the pivotal step that many people skip and it must be done, can’t emphasize this enough:

  • Watch this video I made to know how to find people, reach out to them, what to ask in the informational interview, and how to follow up after.

An informational interview is where you talk to people in the careers that you are interested in to get their personal perspective to better inform your career decisions.

Goal: know exactly the highs and lows of a career, how long it will take you to progress, if the job can fit with your desired lifestyle:

  • It is the closest you can get to understanding what having a career would be like without spending the time actually in the job.

You must do informational interviews for every career path you are considering, it will really open your eyes and challenge your assumptions. Online research simply is not enough.

When I was trying to figure out my career, I met a TON of people and toured a lot of workplaces, and it gave me clarity. I talk more about my experience in this video.

Step 4: Choose a path and create a plan of action

You’ve done a ton of informational interviews, and now it is clear which career you would like to pursue. Now, talk to more people in your chosen field and take the best parts of their stories of how they got to where they are and follow their path.

I did this — I decided to pursue a career in HR after having an exceptional informational interview:

  • Based on my informational interview, I followed my mentor’s path exactly, enrolling in the same master’s program, getting an internship at the company she worked for. Knowing her path gave me direction and focus.

Don’t blaze your own trail, others have come before you, pick their brain and get their tips. Ask for help all the time.

When establishing your path, you should know Industry, company, role that you want:

    In your job search, which is most important to focus on?

Now that you’ve done these four steps you are ready to start pursuing your career!

This process is so worth it to make sure you have a fulfilling career. For more career advice check out my YouTube Channel, Self Made Millennial. BEST OF LUCK!!

This article first appeared on Quora.