Friday, August 26, 2011

How To Choose The Right Career

I don't want the title of this post to throw you, I haven't found the secret to life or anything. But considering I had 8 hours of travel time on Sunday, then 13 on Wednesday (yes, we got a little lost) it's safe to say I've really had some time to really process everything that has happened in the last month or so. The sudden realization that I've been studying for a career I never intended on doing in the first place along with the embarrassing heart-pang of never even trying something I wanted to do made for some long (and I'm sure draining) conversations with my boyfriend.

But thankfully, they've been incredibly beneficial. He's not only supportive, but extremely intelligent. Plus his degree in Business gives him fantastic insight as to what it takes to make it in an industry, as most creative jobs are, where your ability to market yourself can mean sink or swim. So using my Master's in psychology, I did some homework and combined a few typical psychological exams with some basic discussion principles and came up with a quick way for you to figure out a job for yourself that would fit in with your daily life, you would be good at, and would also enjoy doing. Here's what was left:

1.) Have your closest friends and family members take the following survey. They have to know you extremely well, otherwise it's going to be all over the place. It's only four questions, and some of them may seem silly, so make sure they take it seriously. I've added some answers people said about me as possible examples.

1.) If you could choose 2 colors to describe me, what would they be and why? 

My Example: - Yellow and Orange, because I'm, "energetic, exciting, creative happy and bright".

2.) Of the following jobs, which would I be happiest in and which would I be the most miserable in. Why?

- Storm Chaser
- Lawyer
- Teacher/Coach
- Accountant
- Salesmen/Real Estate Agent
- Artist/Writer
- Sculptor/Mechanic/Carpenter
- Masseuse/Physical Therapist/Yoga Instructor
- Carpenter/Oil Driller/Fisherman

My Example: “Best would be Storm Chaser, because you like to do things that are a little dangerous, and you’re kinda crazy. Or a writer. You're good at telling stories. Worst would be salesman, I don’t think you would be good at pushing people to buy something they don’t need. You would feel bad.”

3.) List 3 things that would describe my perfect vacation day ever and 3 things that would describe my worst vacation day ever. Why these things?

My Example: “Best would be 1.) Going somewhere new that you’ve never seen before, 2.) Doing something that would give you an adrenaline rush, like bungee jumping or swimming with sharks or something, and 3.) Having someone there to share it with. Worst would be 1.) Having to stay in one place, like going somewhere but everyone wanted to just lay by the pool all day because you would probably want to explore. 2.) Having some kind of schedule or routine you had to stick to because you would probably get distracted or want to do something else, and 3.) Being somewhere super hot and having no way to cool down, because you’re weird like that.”

4.) List 3 of my strengths and 3 of my weaknesses, as they can be applied to anything.

My Example: “Three strengths would be 1.) You’re hardworking and kind of stubborn. Once you set your mind to something it gets done. 2.) You’re really good at telling stories or describing things, and 3.) You’re good at connecting with people. Three weaknesses would be 1.) You get bored really easily, 2.) You tend to follow your own agenda. You get frustrated if you think you can do a job better a different way. 3.) You have a lot of things running through your head and pulling you in different directions.” 

2.) Now list off what you wanted to be when you were little along with any job you would want to have now. Include anything you might consider a “pipe-dream”. And don’t worry if the list is long.

My Example: Writer, Actor, Journalist, Photographer, Marine Biologist, Zookeeper, Horse Trainer, Astronaut, Linguist, Musician, Film Composer, Chef, Food Critic, Artist (Painter), Sculptor, Animal Petter (hey I thought it was a real job), Storm Chaser, Cartoonist, Costume Designer, Veterinarian, Professional Athlete, Adventure Guide, Pilot, Florist, Cake Decorator, Scuba Dive Instructor, and there’s even more.

3.) Now list you’re current non-negotiable commitments, or things that you are absolutely not willing to change. These aren’t things that you can’t afford to do, or don’t know how to do, like your current job or location; you can change those things. These are more along the lines of, “I want to be close to my mother during her last days” or “I’m 55 and don’t want to jeopardize too much of my savings/retirement fund”.

My Example: I don’t want to move. I would like to travel, of course, but I still want my permanent home to be here in Billings. I’m also not willing to do anything that puts unnecessary strain on my relationship with my boyfriend (like housing 30 ferrets), or take on something that meant I couldn’t start a family in the next few years. In addition, I don't want to go back to school right now. I currently have three degrees and I need to put them to use before I get another one.

4.) Now cross off jobs on that list that would interfere with those commitments. This shouldn’t hurt too badly if you listed commitments you are honestly not willing to change. It might help to make a list of pros and cons, like this:                        

                      Job                                                Pros                                                 Cons
--Do something different everyday
--Get to be creative in generating new characters
--Not a lot of work in Billings, MT
--99.9% of Actors are unemployed
--Get to work with animals everyday
--Pays well
--Have to go through a lot of schooling
--Would have to euthanize
Professional Athlete
--Awesome Pay
--Play a game for a living
--Not talented enough
--Would have to move: MT has no professional teams
--Make jokes for a living
--Get to draw and color all day
--Can’t draw cartoons very well
--Doesn’t pay very well
Food Critic
---Get to taste food
---Get to write
--Would need to attend more school, not knowledgeable enough about how to use my palate
--Might have eat some disgusting stuff

What am I left with? 

Writer, Actor, Journalist, Photographer, Marine Biologist, Zookeeper, Horse Trainer, Astronaut, Linguist, Musician, Film Composer, Chef, Food Critic, Artist (Painter), Sculptor, Animal Petter (hey I thought it was a real job), Storm Chaser, Cartoonist, Costume Designer, Veterinarian, Professional Athlete, Adventure Guide, Pilot, Florist, Cake Decorator, Scuba Dive Instructor.
5.) Now let’s apply the results from the earlier survey to the jobs I have left.
Writer, Journalist, Photographer, Horse Trainer, Food Critic, Artist (Painter), Sculptor, Adventure Guide, Florist, Cake Decorator.

My Example: Fortunately, all of these jobs fit pretty well with my survey results. They all revolve around doing something creative and different every day. Plus they are all basically independent in nature. I doubt I’m going to find a job in the paper hiring for an artistic painter anytime soon.
6.) Now use common sense. Honestly, I have no experience as a Sculptor or Painter (even though I enjoy doing them) and there’s no way I could hold myself out as an Adventure Guide, I don’t have near the qualifications or the knowledge.
So what have I settled on pursuing? Primarily photography and writing (going back to my photojournalism roots). Yes, I understand that this is an expensive and difficult route (paid photographers make less than actors, on average) but it’s something I’ve been passionate about for years, as well as something I feel I would excel at. Having my own business (or working as a freelance writer) would allow me the freedom to make my own decisions, as well as the opportunity to be outside and travel.
7. So next comes the to-do list: 1. I need a new camera. Mine broke years ago and I’ve been scrounging with its remaining functions to just get average pictures. 2. I need experience, so last week I went door to door to every photographer in town asking if they needed an assistant. I explained that I would work for free, and after 2 days I found one willing to work with me. Check. 3. I need to come up with some kind of plan that breaks my goals into achieveable steps. 

8. The last step is the plan. Personally, since I need a camera and experience I plan on still working at the psych center while looking for writing jobs and saving up money for that damn camera. In order to be considered a full-time writer, I need to be able to make enough money, weekly, that is at least equivalent to a paycheck I receive at the psych center.
Okay folks, so this has definitely been one of the longest posts I’ve ever written. Let me know if you use this slimmed down method to evaluate your own career decisions!

So Followed Saturday Sunday Blog Hop Shibley Smiles 


  1. Loved your post - reminded me of me so many years ago and little still today!
    I've Become My Mother
    I've Become My Mother facebook

  2. Wow... I just found your blog via the Crazed Fan Weekend hop and I'm a little freaked out! I was having a very long talk with my best friend this morning about how I really needed to start taking the steps I have to in order to re-evaluate my career goals and desires - as I am extremely unhappy in my current job. After we finished that convo - I logged on, linked up at CFWH and randomly clicked on your post. Without paying really any attention to what I was clicking on. Imagine my surprise when I pulled up this post! To make a long story short... I have already sent out emails to my closest friends and family to get their feedback... LOL Thanks so much for sharing this! And of course, I am now a new follower ;)

  3. What a great exercise to work through. We all find our way and the best career for us... Just keep believing it.

    Don't forget to stop by A Creative Spirit often cuz every comment you leave is an entry into a monthly gift card drawing.

  4. Choosing my career was never that difficult. I love making up stories, thus I am trying to make my way as a writer. In the meantime, since I love languages, I studied and became a translator. For a short period of time I considered becoming a psychiatrist because I love learning what makes people tick, but I figured I am not stable enough, so that was out of the race soon. Of course there were the other girly dreams when I was a kid (ballet dancer, vet, truck driver, ...), but they were never real career options.

    To you I'd say: Keep your feet on the ground and work thoroughly, and try to make your way as a photographer.

  5. I found your site through 'Country Rush Dad'. Loved this post. Since it seems like you enjoy doing a lot of things I would enjoy...I'm looking forward to reading more from you.

  6. I can't tell you how much I admire your chutzpah. It isn't always easy for people to face the fact that the path they are on isn't going to make them happy. Not with _education_ invested in it.

    If you are looking for blogging photographers to check out, I like Ex Hot Girl. She isn't exactly posting regularly these days, but has links to her professional sites that might interest you:

  7. Great post! I love the survey you created: very helpful. Best of luck with your new venture!

  8. Coming from a girl in her 30's who has yet to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, this was incredibly helpful. Congratulations on the internship with the photographer. I hope you'll be posting pics of your progress as you go.

  9. My brother who has no formal education, just a love for photography, turned his part-time business into an international success in just a few years. His partner is educated and has a good business head so together they cannot seem to go wrong.
    I may be a photographer when I retire or a painter or both. For now I will write!

  10. Thanks for sharing!

    I am a new RSS subscriber from the Sunday Subscriber blog hop! :)
    If you want to check out my blog, you can find my feed here:

    Happy Monday!

  11. Hi! I wanted to stop by and thank you for joining the Planet Weidknecht Weekend Hop. I hope you'll join in again.

  12. I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this nice information. I really appreciate your work, keep it up.

    choose a career

  13. Look at the lives you see people having, and ask yourself whose life you would want. That's easy, right? But now look deeper. You can't just have the life they have now. You have to have the life they lead to get there.


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