Ibrahim ArticleAuthor and Contributor

Ibrahim Sabbah

Don’t follow your dreams” said Chris Gardner, the author of the 2006 The Pursuit of Happyness. Gardner recommended to his readers to put their passions aside at first in order to focus on the realistic side of life at first: paying the bills, putting food on the table, and aiding your family if they are in need. Chris Gardner is an American entrepreneur, investor, stockbroker, motivational speaker, author, and philanthropist who, during the early 1980s, struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son. Gardner struggled personally to establish himself professionally as a stockbroker while raising and supporting two children and being homeless. His struggle was adapted in the 2006 motion picture The Pursuit of Happyness starring one of my personal favorites Will Smith.

It can be a smart move to search for ways to combine your career and your personal passions, but you do need a realistic outlook on life. Having a good reason to go to work every day may be enough to merge your passion (heart) and pragmatism (mind). Whether you take your love of teaching to educate the next generation or follow your passion to work in a company that saves lives.

According to an article published by CAPELLA University about Passion VS Pragmatism: Here are five questions to help you discover where your heart (passion) and your head (pragmatism) align:

  1. “What do people say I’m good at?”

Don’t automatically do what people suggest for you, but trusted family and friends may be able to recognize how well you perform certain skills, even if you don’t initially recognize these talents.

  1. “If I could trade a job with a friend, what would it be?”

Studying the occupations of your peers is a good exercise to see what might be interesting to you.

  1. “What’s the long-term outlook for my interest?”

Talk to someone in a career that appeals to you. Doing so can provide insight into what skills or interests might be useful for the future. For example, if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram 24/7, you could turn that passion into a career as a community manager who uses social media to connect brands with customers.

  1. “What’s my personal long-term outlook?”

Look at your ideal personal path along with your career path and find where your interests converge. You don’t need to get specific on dates or ages, but you can answer questions like:

  • Would you like to be married and/or have children at a certain point?
  • Do you want to live in your current city, or is moving an option?
  • Do you want a job that involves more travel or less?
  • When would you like to retire?

Answering these questions can help provide some direction, like setting a goal of “exploring” for a few years and then settling down, or creating a firm financial foundation first and exploring later.

  1. “What tools exist to help me further determine the right career path?”

There are plenty of resources available to assist you in finding a career that fits you personally and professionally. Some to start with include:

  • O*NET Interest Profiler™, a self-assessment tool that helps identify interest areas, which in turn are linked to career paths.
  • ISEEK Skills Assessment, in which you rate yourself on 35 different skills and are matched with occupations that use the skills that are important to you.
  • StrengthsFinder 2.0, which begins with an online assessment to identify your talents and related occupations.

Making career decisions is a difficult process. Hopefully these insights will keep your head in the right place to help make more informed, effective, and important decisions.

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