Your career has a big impact on your future. It can affect your identity, personal fulfillment, lifestyle, income, family, and retirement.

Before you decide what career to pursue, carefully consider your options and ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are my interests?

The activities you enjoy doing in your free time can give your insight into the careers that would be satisfying, fulfilling and fun. To figure out your interests, ask yourself:

  • What hobbies do I enjoy?
  • Do I prefer spending time indoors or outdoors?
  • Do I enjoy working with people, animals, data, or books?
  • What activities would I miss the most if I could no longer do them?

2. What are my skills?

Right now, you possess skills that can help you succeed in the future. Think about your hard skills and soft skills.

  • Hard skills – skills you have acquired through study, such as culinary arts or computer programming.
  • Soft skills – the people and life skills you possess, including teamwork and time management.

3. What are my talents and strengths?

From the time you were little, you demonstrated talents and strengths that make you unique and can help you succeed in your chosen career. In fact, Sir Ken Robinson, author of The Element, Out of Our Minds, says that:

You owe it to yourself to ensure that there is some part of your day or week when you are doing what comes most naturally to you and makes you feel at your most centered and authentic.

If you do not know your talents and strengths, make a list of everything you are good at doing. Your family members, friends, teachers, boss, and mentors can help you write this list that you will use to narrow down potential careers.

4. What is my personality?

Your personality is the way you think, feel, and behave. It can be an important part of your career, so consider several aspects of your personality as you think about your future.

  • Are you a leader or a follower?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
  • Do you prefer to cooperate or compete with others?
  • Do you enjoy helping others or prefer to empower them to do things themselves?
  • Are you a thinker who focuses on ideas or are you a doer who acts?
  • Are you a creative and artistic person or do you thrive with structure and routine?

5. What are my values?

Everyone has values or things that are important to them, such as financial security, social justice, or work-life balance. These values can help you decide what type of career to pursue. For example, you could consider a career that pays well if you value financial security or consider a 9-to-5 job if you want to achieve work-life balance.

6. What education or training do I need?

Certain careers require advanced education and financial investment. For example, you may need eight to 12 years of education and training to be a doctor, but you could earn a hospitality management bachelor in four years. Think about the time and money required to pursue a career as you make your decision.

7. Are there jobs available in this career?

According to Eurostat, 21.4 million people work in personal services and sales, the two most popular careers in the EU. While you do not have to work in one of these popular occupations, you should consider the potential job availability in your future career field. The travel and tourism sector contributed US$7.6 trillion to the global economy and supported 292 million jobs in 2016. This was equal to 10.2% of the world’s GDP, and approximately 1 in 10 of all jobs.

8. How much money do I want to make?

Different careers provide different monetary rewards. Even though salary should not be the main factor in choosing a career, your paycheck can play a role in your quality of life and where you live. Consider your earning potential as you narrow your career options.

9. Where do I want to live?

Some jobs are more readily accessible while others can only be performed in certain locations. For example, you will probably need to live in a rural location if you choose to work as a park ranger or farmer, and you may want to live near an urban area if you plan to pursue a finance or fashion career. Plan carefully to ensure you can work where you want to live.

10. Why do I want to pursue this career?

Always ask yourself why you want to pursue a certain career as you evaluate which choice is right for you. Do not let the opinions or expectations of others sway your decision. Ultimately, your career choice is solely yours.