Have you ever really thought about exploring your career options? I mean all the options. For most, the answer is no because they didn’t realize that there were other options!
As young children, we are allowed to play and let our imaginations run free. No one questions it if a toddler wants to draw blue hair in a picture or be a firefighting ballerina. However, once we enter school this begins to change. Rules and structure are introduced. We are told that we must give certain answers, must act a certain way, and must think a certain way. We are forced into a structured box that we must conform to if we wish to succeed.
This type of boxed-in structure then continues throughout our lives into adulthood where we are encouraged to attend college, get a full-time, nine-to-five job, get married, and have kids. While some succeed well within this box, many others don’t because they are not being true to their own passions, interests, and values. As a result, they end up unhappy with their job and their life. In fact, the Conference Board reported that 53% of people are unhappy at work. That’s half of the workforce!
It’s clear that the systematic, one-size-fits-all plan that society used to embrace doesn’t work for everyone and may not work for you. If you were to step outside of the box and explore, you would see that today, you have many more options for creating a happy, rewarding career and life.
Historically, working full- or part-time for an employer has been the most common career pathway for most. Basically, the process involves aligning what employers are looking for with what you have to offer and agreeing to provide it when, how, and where they want it. The key to finding happiness here is when you can also match up your values and interests with the employer’s work culture. If so, you’re likely to enjoy doing what you love while being fairly compensated and enjoying some quality of life.
Independent contracting offers one of the fastest growing career options today. In addition to matching up what you have to offer with what someone is willing to pay for it, you also have some flexibility in who, where, when, and how your work, as well as how you’re compensated. Thanks to platforms like Upwork, and staffing agencies like Kelly Services, you also have access to robust doorways where you can promote yourself and secure work on a routine basis. Opportunities run the gambit too, including contractor work for scientists, engineers, IT and legal professionals, as well as teachers, accountants, content writers, graphic designers, administrators and laborers.
Like independent contracting, self-employment offers a lot of flexibility. The difference is one of total control over what you do (or produce), when you do it, and how much you sell it for. In addition, you also have the added responsibilities of marketing, administration, quality control, accounting, and other business management activities required to support profitability and sustainability of the operation over the long-term. Thanks to technology and the reach of the Internet, you also have access to many productivity-enhancing solutions that make it easier to succeed, such as mobile CRM and accounting apps and virtual assistants.
Ah, entrepreneurship – the essence of ingenuity, innovation, and the human spirit! This is where you take your idea and satisfy a market need or want for a profit. The skies the limit here in terms of what you provide for products and services too. There have been countless successful ventures including everything shopping apps to pet rocks to dog therapy and more. Basically, if you can think it and truly want to succeed here, there is no limit to learning what you need and living the entrepreneurial dream! One of the biggest differentiators in this career option is the scope by which you need to engage and lead others. Whether small or large, when you run your own business, you must continually work well “with and through others” to sustain it.
Combination Career Paths
For some, working a full- or part-time job while building a self-employment or small business venture can be the ideal career path. As the economy fluctuates, this approach also offers a way to bridge income gaps if under-employed or in-between traditional employment. As the Burger King ad says, this option offers many opportunities to “have it your way.”
Regardless of what career path you choose, there are two things in life that are limited: time and energy. If you’re reading this, it just might be time to step back and revive that sense of curiosity and adventure you had as a child so that you spend your time and energy wisely.