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A career is a professional occupation that you pursue for a significant period of your life, which often requires special training. It frequently involves a series of advancements and different position titles as well. To enjoy the many waking hours spent at work, it helps you love what you do, respect the people you work with or serve, and share the goals of your employer. Finding a creative flow and sparking innovative output is also important, as is engaging with a larger purpose.

What Is a Good Career Fit?

The more you know about yourself, the easier it will be for you to choose and prepare for a well-matched career. In addition to getting the right training or education, you must consider your values, and what is important to you. For instance, do you value creativity or your work environment over financial success? Do you seek a career that provides travel opportunities or one that allows you to spend a lot of time with family? To be happy in a career, your values and priorities should line up as closely as possible with the requirements of a job.

Is it important to find purpose through work?

While what matters most in a job depends on the individual, people just starting out in their careers often feel pressured to find their one true calling. This can be counterproductive and close them off to experiences that could be meaningful. It’s generally better to play the long game, prioritizing learning and developing skills that will be valuable later on.

How do I choose a career?

While there is no one right profession, most people are happier when their chosen work aligns with their core values. To discover your core values, look to your role models for clues, try out an online values inventory, consult with a career counselor, and/or spend some time reflecting on your own experiences.    

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How to Build a Career
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

A fulfilling career is a key source of satisfaction in life. The challenge for many is not how to perform well on the job, but how to identify a career at that magical intersection of individual capability and societal demand—for wherever there is market demand for a skill set, fair pay should follow. Some people are satisfied with a job that supports their lifestyle but one that doesn’t necessarily lead to new experiences or the chance for advancement. Many other people, however, eagerly seek out opportunities to develop new skills and find personal and professional growth via their careers.

How can I advance my career?

Start by taking stock of where you are in your career now: what motivates you to work, with whom do you work, and how do you work—the skills and experiences you have accumulated. Using this intelligent career framework, imagine what you want to happen next in your career and work backward to identify the actions that will get you there.

How important is the management culture to my career success?

Very. Many people are debilitated by their work due to poor management. Negative workplace experiences tend to lead to increased stress and reduced motivation. It’s not unusual for a career to stall when someone works for a company or a supervisor who doesn’t respect their talents or value employees taking initiative.

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