Personal preferences play a major role in your career or occupation since they influence your job satisfaction, lifestyle, and motivation. When you are performing a job that allows you to do what you like, uses your skills, and fits your lifestyle, you feel more motivated to excel. In addition, your personal preferences will determine how, when, and why you perform your job.

For example, suppose you have two children of your own and a husband that travels extensively. You have always liked children, but you prefer dealing with older children when it comes to working around them. Since you already have a degree in mathematics, you decide to become a high school teacher.

You choose this occupation because it has a work schedule that facilitates your lifestyle, gives you free time during the summer to spend with your own children, and utilizes your knowledge in mathematics. You are very satisfied with your career since it complements your lifestyle, and it lets you decide how and when to teach topics for your class, as well as work with your preferred school age.

Why should I combine my personal preferences with my career?

You should combine your personal preferences with your career aspirations in order to create a balance between your work and personal life. You can balance your work and personal life by considering how your career aspirations affect your family and your quality of life.

Find out how your family feels about your career aspirations and quantify their support. Do they perceive your job as positive for you? Is your quality time with your family affected by your career? Answering questions like these will help you establish how your family feels about your career aspirations. Family support is important because it helps prevent personal problems that can arise when your family is discontent with the amount of time you spend at work instead of with them.

In addition, you should keep in mind the amount of time and dedication you are willing to invest in your career, since people who meet their career aspirations tend to give adequate time and dedication to their efforts.

What should I do if I am unsure of my career preferences?

Sometimes you will find that your career preferences are not clearly defined, which can create confusion and indecision. You can follow these steps to better identify your career preferences:

Identify your interests

First, you need to identify your interests. Identify what tasks and activities you find refreshing and exhilarating, regardless of how frequently you perform them. Ask questions about yourself to people who know you, then make a list of your interests.

You should define those personal qualities that foster your passions by establishing whether these qualities are objective or subjective in nature. Objective qualities are substantiated by education or experience, such as promotions or being a subject matter expert in organic chemistry. On the other hand, subjective qualities are those that represent your inner needs, such as wanting more job security or feelings of enjoyment.

Make a list of your skills and values

The next step for identifying your career preferences is to make a list of your skills and values. Write down every skill and value that involves activities that put a smile on your face, even those that are not directly related to current or previous work experiences.

You should think of skills as your abilities to perform specific tasks better than other people, such as planning the logistics for the annual sales convention or designing a Web site. Think of values as your preferences, such as working outdoors versus indoors or working in a nonprofit organization for less money when you can make twice as much in a different organization.

Making a list of your skills and values can pinpoint areas of personal strength and weakness of which you may not be aware. For example, suppose you made a list of activities you like doing. Among the activities you wrote are gardening and writing. Since gardening and writing require careful planning and working individually, you can identify planning and the ability to work alone as skills related to doing something you enjoy.

Make a list of occupations that seem appealing

Next, you should make a list of occupations that seem appealing. You should write down any occupations, regardless of your education and experience since the purpose of writing a list of occupations is to help you explore your career preferences. Do not limit yourself to occupations that seem reasonable or sensible. Being bold when writing this list will help you discover hidden career preferences.

Evaluate how your preferences and qualities fit into your career plans

The last step you should complete to identify your career preferences is to evaluate how your interests, skills, and values fit into your career plans. You should try to recognize how your personal qualities and preferences fit those occupations listed as appealing.

Be objective as you consider how your interests, skills, and values fit into your career plans. Determine whether you need additional education to improve or develop new skills, whether your lifestyle meets the demands of your career choices, and whether your family support your interests.

When should I seek professional career counseling?

You should seek professional career counseling when you do not feel confident in your career choice, want a second opinion about it, or have more than one career option that requires investments in time, money, or education. Career counseling helps you define your skills, qualities, and values so that you can find an occupation that fosters your personal growth.

For example, a career counselor can help you explore factors such as family influences, personality preferences, and interests, skills, or values by using personality tests, skill inventories, and other forms of standardized testing. Career counselors can also coach you to improve your resume writing, job search strategies, and interviewing skills.

Some of the reasons you might choose professional career counseling include needing coaching to choose a career path, being tired of your current occupation, needing professional reassurance for your preferred career choice, changing your occupational field, or transitioning into a new occupational field.

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