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Starting / Choosing a career

Career decisions: The perfect job fantasy

Who says there’s one perfect job or one ideal client out there for you? In reality, there are many great roles out there for everyone. In this article I explain why it is important to have a realistic approach when making career decisions.

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The concept of a job today is vastly different from that of 20 years ago. The pace of change in organisations, in technology and in access to global markets is forcing every business to re-examine what they do and how they do it.

How does this affect those who are making career decisions in this changing world?

Over the last 10 years I have had contact with many individuals searching for their place in the working world. For many, a growing sense of dissatisfaction with their work, or a general feeling that things aren’t as they should be, has left them with two questions to answer – Why am I here? and What would I really love to do for a job?

The biggest obstacle to answering these questions is tied up in the concept of ’my perfect job’. This goes closely with other unhelpful concepts such as ‘my perfect partner’ and ’my perfect life’.

There is plenty of mystique around the perfect job or ideal client. Time and again I’ve heard people say that it will just “come to them” or they will “know it when they see it”. If you are hanging out for the perfect job or client, there’s a pretty good chance you are closing your mind to several fruitful opportunities. We set ourselves up for failure with expectations that the answer will come to us, or that a job needs to be perfect.

"Those who consider their career in isolation from the rest of their lives can end up making career decisions that don’t work out."

The truth is there is rarely a single outcome in the search for ideal work. A career is only a part of a lifestyle and a lifestyle encompasses all aspects of our life. Those who consider their career in isolation from the rest of their lives can end up making career decisions that don’t work out.

Want more articles like this? Check out the choosing a career section.

How to make career decisions that work for you

A clearly structured process will help you to define the parameters of work that are important for you, rather than specific jobs.

For example:

  • preferred industries
  • work type (full or part time etc)
  • working hours
  • travel
  • level of autonomy or team work
  • desired income
  • responsibility
  • skills you want to use
  • location.

Once you are clear on your parameters, perhaps you have even prioitised them based on their importance to you, you can then evaluate your career options against them.

With this approach, the weight of expectation is lifted and the burden of finding the one and only right answer is gone. You have the freedom to consider a large number of roles knowing that you will make a choice based on your personal criteria.

At the end of the day, career decisions are about making choices and not about finding right and wrong answers. Embrace the un-perfectness of the process, give yourself parameters, and put the power of choice firmly in your hands.

Megan Tough

runs Complete Potential, a company that helps businesses solve their strategy and people problems. She loves being a solopreneur, and when she doesn't have her nose to the grindstone, is fulfilling her other passion of fitness and health.

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