Choosing a career path is going to be one of the biggest decisions of your life but what exactly do you base the decision on?
There are normally two standard types of advice given when it comes to choosing a career. One revolves around finding a secure and financially lucrative job which will set you up for the rest of your life. The second focuses on pursing a career based on your personal interests and passions. Both are important but I want to offer a third option which I believe to be a crucial aspect – if not the most crucial aspect – of choosing the right career path for you.
My suggestion is that you take some time to dream up your ideal lifestyle. Once you have an ideal lifestyle in mind you can base your career choices on building this type of lifestyle!
Let’s think about this.
Using a financial measuring stick as the basis of your career choice won’t necessarily make you happy and doesn’t really make sense. After all, the amount of income that is going to fulfil you will be highly subjective and based on the type of things you personally want out of life, in other words – your ideal lifestyle. There is no point blindly going after more money when you don’t want or need it. If you choose your career path in this way you are basically taking one “happiness” factor into consideration and ignoring the rest. To me this seems kind of stupid and will probably lead you to choosing a career path that isn’t right for you.
On the other hand, following a passion can also be a difficult path for a few different reasons. Firstly, you might not be good enough at your passion to compete in a competitive world. If you love doing something but are not good at it then you are going to need to invest a lot of time into getting good at it (time which you may not be want to sacrifice). Secondly, you have a passion which you are good at but that passion doesn’t offer any value in the market place and therefore it isn’t financially feasible as a career, at least not in the short term. Finally, you might simply just not now know what your passion is at this point in your life.
Focusing all your attention on building a career based around your envisioned lifestyle means that you are always going to moving forward towards that envisioned goal rather than getting stuck in a rut. The career you pick should be something that you enjoy but also something with the long-term potential of realising the type of the lifestyle you want. It doesn’t necessarily mean picking a career that is going to offer you all the benefits of your ideal lifestyle immediately but one that will give you the opportunity to build that lifestyle with hard work and patience.
The great thing about this career strategy is it gives you the opportunity to take control of your life and attract the things which are important to you. If you don’t think about career in this way you are forcing yourself into a narrow and well-trodden lane which might not suit you.
If I look at myself as an example, I want the type of lifestyle where I have the freedom to live on my own terms, make my own decisions and create my own work that’s meaningful to me. It’s for this reason that I don’t think a corporate career path is a good fit and I tend lean towards entrepreneurial pursuits. By choosing this path I am sacrificing certain securities, willing to embrace some personal hardships and am prepared to make less money in a trade-off for more time. With this being said, I have never been that bothered about being super rich, I don’t know what I would do with the money, so this is a choice that makes sense for me based on my lifestyle preferences.
It seems to be that when you base your career choices around your perfect lifestyle everything seems to fit nicely into place. If doing something your passionate about (or finding your purpose) is important to you then your ideal lifestyle will allow the time to practice or search for that thing. If being extremely wealthy is important to you then your ideal lifestyle will reflect this and the pool of potential career choices for you to pick from will narrow. If you feel spending time lots with your family is a high priority, then certain doors will close but to you these will be worthwhile sacrifices.
By focusing on lifestyle when choosing your career path, you allow yourself to embrace the bigger picture. Making the important choices becomes simpler because while you may not have an end game in mind, you do know that the lifestyle you are building will allow you to use your precious time in a way that best suits you as an individual.
Also published on Medium.