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Chapter 19. Get a Career—or Change the O... > Finding Your Direction - Pg. 202

Get a Career--or Change the One You Have 202 As a career counselor for the better part of two decades, I've heard so many people ask the question, "What's out there?" They want to know what the hot jobs and growing industries are. They want to know what other career fields my clients are going into. They want to know which companies are hiring. Instead of "What's out there?" they should be asking, "What's in here? Who am I and what do I want?" Then they can ask about career and job options that might fit who they are. Matter of Fact Some career indecision results from perfectionism, which in this case means feeling that you have to make the perfect choice that will keep you happy the rest of your life. The fact is, very few, if any, career decisions are irreversible, and statistics show that most people have several different careers over a lifetime. Sure, it's nice to be able to choose a career that you're going to stick with for a while, but if you do get into one and find that it's not quite right, you can change it. If you use effective transition strategies, it's never too late to make a career change, and you're never too deeply entrenched in one field or industry to switch to another. Whether you're a student or recent grad choosing your first career, a parent looking to get back into the work world, or an experienced worker wanting to make a change, knowing how to ask yourself those questions can be difficult, and finding the answers can be even more difficult. If you've been putting off making decisions about your career direction, try the following strategies to motivate yourself: · Realize that there is a method to the madness when choosing a career. You can learn this method by reading books about career planning or by working with a career development pro- fessional one-on-one or in seminars. Choosing a career is not a skill you're born with; you have to be educated about how to do it before you can expect to make any good decisions. · Don't get frustrated. Many people attempting to make a career choice on their own begin by thinking about what they enjoy or what they do well. The problem is that most people end up with too many, or too few, options based on those interests and abilities. They often decide at that point that it's too difficult to choose, and then either give up and stay in their same field or just take any job without making a conscious choice about the career path that job will put them on. In order to work through the frustration of choosing a career, you have to move beyond introspection by turning to outside resources that can teach you that "method to the madness." · Don't take the stab-in-the-dark approach. Many people who need to choose a new career open up the newspaper to the help wanted ads or sign on to a career Web site and peruse the job listings. They start applying for jobs before they've even zeroed in on their overall career goals. Be sure you aren't putting the cart before the horse. Choose a direction first, and then look for jobs within that field or industry. Quicksand!