8 Things to Do When You Can't Decide on a Career Path

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Determining your ideal career path can be a daunting task. With so many options available in various industries, it's natural to experience a range of emotions, such as confusion, stress, or excitement. Learning more about the numerous ways you can overcome this can ease this process through self-examination and research. In this article, we explore eight things to do when you can't decide on a career and examine some reasons why you may feel you can't decide on the career to pursue.

8 things to do when you can't decide on a career

Before exploring things to do when you can't decide on a career, it's helpful to understand the difference between a career path and a job. A career path is all the steps you take to achieve your professional goal, while a job is one component of your career path. The journey to fulfilling your professional objective begins with your education and develops through your job responsibilities and positions. It's a long and rewarding process, which is why it may feel daunting to determine the right path. Here are eight considerations for when you can't decide on a career:

1. Write a list of your interests

When you feel you can't decide on a career, a practical first step is to write a list of all your interests. Take the appropriate amount of time to reflect on your experiences, from educational to personal to professional. Through self-examination, you can discover the interests and abilities that bring you enjoyment and may distinguish you from your peers. It's vital to be as specific as possible. This list can also help you determine some initial professional goals.

2. Discover your strengths with a personality test

Personality or career-aptitude tests are a valuable tool to help you discover your strengths and which type of careers benefit from them. They encourage you to assess your experiences, mindset, emotional composition, and interests through various questions. In some instances, these assessments ask random questions that can determine the career that's right for you.

3. Eliminate careers that disinterest you

Some career-aptitude assessments may suggest unexpected careers that seem unsuitable. In those cases, it's helpful to revisit your list of interests and determine whether that suggested career is right for you. Consider your personality, demeanour, strengths, passions, and goals for added accuracy. If you decide that the proposed profession disinterests you, then eliminate it from your list. It's more valuable only to research the careers that align with who you are and the professional you aspire to be.

4. Conduct research on various careers

Once you discover the careers that interest you, the next step is to research each of them thoroughly. Search online, watch videos, and read books for information. Consider keeping an electronic or physical document with each new piece of data you find. It's crucial to gain a detailed overview of every component of the career, such as employment outlook, wages, and professional development. With enough research, you can make an informed decision about your future.

Related: How to Create a Career Development Plan

5. Pursue opportunities to experience jobs

Upon determining the career options that align with your professional goals, you can focus your search for opportunities to gain experience in related jobs. Consider an internship or job shadowing to see the day-to-day responsibilities of that career. You may also contact professionals in those industries for networking opportunities or informational interviews. These meetings offer you valuable insight and may improve your chances of getting a job in a particular company.

6. Write a list of your desires and needs

Another factor that can help you decide what career to pursue is writing a list of your desires and needs. This list contains what you believe is essential to a happy and accomplished life, based on your personal and professional ideals. Examine salary options, the potential for professional growth, how these relate to your family and personal goals, and if you may have time to pursue your hobbies.

7. Seek feedback from academic advisors

A helpful method of gaining deeper insight into different careers is consulting an academic advisor. You can have a meeting and convey your thought process, emotional state, personal and professional goals, and the various careers you're considering. Having someone that can listen and provide feedback may provide you with clarity about your decision. You can also search for professional coaches for more specific information about a particular career.

Related: 11 Questions to Ask a Mentor

8. Take your time considering your options

After writing your lists, consulting mentors, and determining your goals, the last step is to pause and reflect. Consider taking the appropriate amount of time to review all the information you have and consider your options. Choosing your career path is a significant decision that can define your future, and as a result, it benefits from careful deliberation. You can take a break by spending time with family or friends to let your emotions and thoughts about your career rest. Once you visualize your career path and the personal and professional fulfilment it may provide, you can make your choice.

Reasons why you may feel you can't decide what career to pursue

The career you choose can determine the structure of your future, and as a result, it's important to understand why you may feel you can't make a decision. While you may encounter this predicament in high school, you may also experience it as an adult seeking to discover what is the right path. Here's a list of factors preventing you from choosing your career path:

Experiencing stress and anxiety

Choosing your career is one of the most critical choices in your life. It's a decision that determines various factors, such as financial stability, professional development, and employment location. Feeling stressed and anxious about this decision is natural, especially if you're in high school and have yet to gain knowledge of the workforce. It's helpful to acknowledge these emotions without allowing them to prevent you from moving forward. Consider adopting an optimistic outlook by considering the exciting and fulfilling opportunities the future may present.

Unsure of your skills

Feeling unsure about what skills you possess and not understanding the skills that jobs or careers require may also hinder your career decision. A practical method of discovering your abilities and aptitudes is to practise self-examination. Consider your education, identify the classes you excel in, and determine what you are doing to succeed in them. You can also examine previous or current part-time jobs and explore your personal growth from these experiences. These activities can help you determine your skill set.

Related: What's the Difference Between Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

Overwhelmed by too many interests

Sometimes the challenge of selecting your career path results from having too many interests. Perhaps you're an accomplished person with various abilities or curious about all the professional possibilities the future presents. With so many options to choose from, you may start feeling overwhelmed, leading to indecision and procrastination. Consider ranking your interests to determine which ones are the most exciting, pairing together the more similar ones, and then narrowing them to three items or less, with as much detail as you can provide.

Desiring a career that's fulfilling

Your well-being is a priority, and as a result, you may struggle to decide on a career path because you're unsure whether that path results in a fulfilling job. A helpful method to determine your career is to create a list of activities you enjoy doing or are exciting to learn or read about. Once you have the list, research possible jobs that rely on those interests, or ask yourself whether you can develop a career from those enjoyable activities. For example, suppose you enjoy baking. You can start your own business or pursue an education to become a professional chef.

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