If you feel like you're adrift on the ocean with no professional direction in sight, don't worry -- you're not alone. Deciding on a career path is one of the biggest life decisions you'll make, and it's a process that can be trying. You may feel lost, question yourself and wonder if you're making the right decisions. With a little introspection, you'll find a career path that feels right for you.
Take a Timeout
If you're really not sure what you want to do career-wise, don't jump into the first job opportunity that pops up. Taking on a job you're not really interested in and quitting it soon after can be damaging to your professional reputation. Work temp jobs if necessary to cover your expenses while you take time to decide on a career path you’re suited for.
Make a List
Think about what you're good at and what you enjoy doing. Finding a line of work that allows you to embrace your passions and your natural talents will put you on the path to personal and professional success. If you have a formal education, such as a college degree or specialized training, look for ways to tie your interests into corresponding professional areas. For example, if you have an education degree and a passion for art, consider pursuing a career as an art teacher.
Find a Mentor
Find a respected professional whose career path you admire and ask her to be your mentor. A mentor can be a sounding board, someone who helps you identify professional goals and take proactive steps toward meeting them. Your mentor can share her own professional growth experiences with you, or help you assess the pros and cons of different career paths you’re exploring.
Go Back to School
If you need a specific type of training or education to follow your bliss, consider going back to school. You might be able to take continuing education classes, participate in an online education program or even enroll as a full-time student. Having a goal in mind will help you stay focused and avoid that lost feeling.
Make a Career Plan
Once you have an idea of the direction you ultimately want to go, write out a formal career plan. A career plan helps you outline both short- and long-term professional goals. Think about where you'd ultimately like to see yourself and map out the steps you need to take to make your dream a reality.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.