How to Pick a Career That Will Make You Happy
41 percent of employees are unhappy in their jobs and planning to leave them in the next year.
Being unhappy in your job is one thing, but being so unhappy that you’re willing to go through the pain of leaving your job and finding a new one is another.
While one recent survey found that 52.3% of Americans were unhappy with their jobs, another study showed that 41 percent are either planning to look for new jobs this year or are already looking.
What does all this mean if you’re a college student or the parent of one? It should make you stop and think about whether you’re on the right career path based on your major. While some people end up unhappy at work because they don’t like their managers or co-workers, I suspect many others are simply a bad fit for the type of work they’ve chosen to do.
One thing I’ve learned in my research at StudentPatterns is that people tend to excel in work that fits their personality type, learning style, and areas of natural attention. Unfortunately, most people don’t factor this crucial truth into their college major or career field decisions. Instead, they often look at average wages, popular majors, or pursue fields their parents or teachers say they should.
People tend to excel in work that fits their personality type and end up unhappy in work that doesn’t.
None of the above are unnecessary pieces of the puzzle to consider, but choosing a job just for the promised average wage is usually a bad idea. The world is full of people who are making good money and hate what they do. While every job has it’s bad days, finding a job that provides a good living but also contributes to a good life is possible.
One important solution to this painful reality is for students to know where they fit best in the working world before they even take their first class at college. I believe that’s possible, and it’s the reason I created Student Patterns.
The world of work can be broken down into some obvious categories. Certain jobs are hands-on and practical. Others involve more abstract and theoretical thinking. Certain career fields involve daily interaction with other people. Others require a good amount of time alone. Certain jobs are focused on maintaining existing systems. Other jobs are focused on innovation. You get the idea.
We cheat ourselves and rob the world of our best work when we choose careers that don’t fit us well.
If we start combining these categories, we can target a student’s best future career even better. For example, if a student is a good conceptual or abstract thinker who works best alone, they’re likely to be unhappy ending up in the middle of a cubicle farm churning out routine work. In fact, the world will likely miss out on their best contributions if we allow them to end up there.
So why do so many people end up in jobs that are a bad fit for them? I believe one major factor is a lack of self-understanding. Sure, we know certain things about ourselves, our general likes and dislikes, what makes us comfortable and uncomfortable, etc. But do we know what powerful combination of traits we possess that make us fit to excel in certain types of work and almost guarantee we’ll be unhappy in others? Most of us don’t. The surveys easily prove it.
The solution? The ancient Greek saying, “Know thyself” seems fitting. If you’re an aspiring college student or the parent of one, please take the time to understand your learning style, your natural skill set, and your personality type. Understand the jobs or career fields that best fit your combination of abilities and pursue one of them, even if the promised wages aren’t as high as other fields that don’t fit you best.
Each of us has an area where we have a natural brilliance. Find yours and build on it. That’s the long-term secret to job satisfaction.
Are you a student looking for your best major or career? Want to minimize the classes you need and maximize your future earnings, sense of fulfillment, and potential?
Are you a parent helping your child choose the best major or career field? Want to maximize their future success and minimize the expense of their education?
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