04 Mar How Do I Know I’m On The Right Career Path?
In marketing, there is a term, product-market-fit.
This term describes a framework where a brand’s product appeals almost perfectly to its target audience, so well that they are buying, using and telling other potential customers about the product.
This scenario works out so well, that through this buy-use-tell cycle, the company is making enough profit to grow and make a profit.
This perfect relationship is how it seems when you find the right career path for you.
Like the product-market fit, choosing the right career path for yourself is no walk in the park.
A great feature on the Mentor Africa Foundation mobile app is the listings option which gives you have access to various job ads.
However, how do you know the career path you have embarked upon is the right fit for you?
You’re not the only one asking this question.
Finding the answer to this question is going to help you on the days the going gets tough, the mornings when you would rather lie in bed, and motivate you to press on when the paycheck alone is not enough.
This is where we come in.
If you tick four out of the five factors to look out for below, then you have found your ‘Product market fit’ i.e. you are on the right career path.
Let’s get into it!
5 Ways To Figure Out If You’re On The Right Career Path
1. Your Job Excites You
A few weeks ago a young man shared a story at a little restaurant, loud enough for people sitting around to hear about his not-so-little brag, but not too loud that he could get thrown out for disturbing the peace.
What happened was he had just signed a new influencer and under 24 hours, sales had shot up by 52%, a record for his company.
This particular influencer had been targeted by several other brands in the niche, but he was able to win her over with a price just a little above the projected ‘walk away’ fee.
It was a big win.
What was most interesting about this young man and his tale that could be heard faintly across the floor of the restaurant was that he was excited about his job.
He was so excited to do what he did, that he needed to share with friends and a handful of strangers that he had done his job and he was darn good at it!
If you wake up in the morning and you are genuinely happy to go to work, then you have something there.
If heading to your office (or just to your home office/desk in these COVID times) gets you pumped because you know you’re about to do something you’re passionate about, then you are headed in the right direction.
2. You Think and Talk About Work Outside Work
Let’s start by saying that work-life balance is a myth.
It is a lie that has been perpetuated for quite some time, right up there with ‘everyone is a winner’ and other cool stories.
If nothing exemplifies the fact that work-life balance is not a real thing, it should be the fact that there are five (5) days you are expected to be at work (for the lucky people who work only on weekdays) and just two-day weekends.
However, what can be cultivated is learning to be truly present in every moment of our lives.
Work and Life are not two separate entities.
Your work is a part of your life.
So if you think and talk about work outside of work, this is not a problem.
It could be a good thing.
Have you ever found yourself trying to figure out a work-related problem outside of work?
Not because you were working late or had a deadline to meet, but simply because you were concerned about how fixing that problem would improve productivity at your job.
Or have you found yourself excited to tell people about your job or a new project or how your role is valuable to achieving overall business roles?
If you’ve found that instead of struggling to separate your work from your life you’ve been able to reach the understanding that your job is a part of you that defines you, then congratulations are in order.
3. You Can Envision Yourself Doing It in The Future
In the movie and book ‘Think Like A Man’, Steve Harvey, American actor, TV presenter, comedian and author of the bestselling novel, tasked his female readers to pick out responsible dateable men by asking them some vital questions.
Some of which included “What are your long term goals?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”.
If these questions can help you determine how to land a life partner, they can help you figure out if you’re in what could potentially be a lifelong career.
When you think about your future career-wise, what do you see?
You can be sure you’re on the right career path if you can look towards your future and see a clear path to the top.
Maybe not at the very apex of this career ladder but to a laudable milestone on your career development plan where you can see your career journey as part of your life’s journey.
Are you open to a long-term relationship with this career?
Then tick this too!
4. Your Work Is Almost Effortless
Some people believe we’re all born with special talents.
And while that might be a reach, research has shown that innate talents selectively facilitate skill acquisition in children and young adults.
Although, there is room for contrary evidence which explains that “differences in early experiences, preferences, opportunities, habits, training and practice are the real determinants of excellence.”
Notwithstanding, several people who enjoy their jobs have explained that it seemed that the job just came naturally to them.
They typically master the skills required easier than others, and whether or not the job has gruelling hours or a high amount of stress, still, no one else does this job quite as they do.
If you’ve found yourself in this group of people then the signs are pointing towards yes, you are on the right career path.
5. Right now, You Feel on Top of Your Game
Okay, maybe not at this specific moment.
If you’re invested in this article, ticking yes to all the other four points then maybe you have little doubts and you’re here to calm your fears.
And maybe sometimes, you’re beat.
It feels like you lost to the machine, to the ‘man’.
Well, let’s leave out those random exceptions and take an overview of your workdays.
When you’re on the right career path you do not settle for mediocrity.
You do not go home every day with a defeatist attitude about the day’s work.
You may not be killing it at everything else, you may not have the best relationship, your beards might not be connecting and you may be lacking in the fashion department but when it comes to doing your job? You win.
You are on top of your game.
You are the go-to guy.
You get home every day (well, almost every day) feeling accomplished in the work you’ve done.
Even if you did not complete some tasks you get home feeling like you put your best foot forward and you are proud of the progress you’ve made.
If you get home from work feeling like this, then once again, you have won the career lottery.
Every career path is not linear, some people find the right career path in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
What is most important is that you find it.
How many boxes out of the five did you tick?
If it’s less than three then you might need to do some soul searching.
Either way, you come out of that, remember to have a conversation with your mentor on the right next steps.