The 4 Step Career Guide (Plus 23 Careers You’ve Never Considered)

Find Your Ideal Career In 4 Steps

I will list a concept and then give my personal example in order to cater to different learning styles.

1. Observe yourself – What are you drawn to?

  • Earlier this year I played chess often.  I would watch chess videos on youtube.  I spent hours upon hours every day absorbed in everything chess.
  • I took 9 credits one semester in college.  I had no job and I played video games all day long (honestly, it was a rough time in my life).  Video games test skill and strategic thinking.
  • In 2008 I began an obsession with investing.  I absorbed everything I could about stocks and options.  I analyzed companies on several different metrics to determine their value.
  • For the past few years, I’ve thought deeply about life and felt compelled to write about it.  I’ve always been drawn to personal development because it makes sense to me to always be improving in some way.

2. Listen to what you’re telling yourself

From above, I can see three primary elements that I seem to enjoy most in life (there are many others, but I have found myself drawn to these three the most)  – strategy, analyzing, and challenge. What elements can you extract from your favorite activities?  There are no wrong answers.  Just find out what you love.

Other random examples:  Adventure, socializing, researching, consuming, communicating, teaching, writing, creating, problem solving, observing nature (or others), being outside, being inside, persuading others, serving others, technology, learning, organizing, etc.

In blogging…

  • Strategy is huge – marketing, gaining traffic, etc.
  • Analyzing is everything – traffic stats, subscription changes, positive/negative responses to posts, etc.
  • The challenge in unending – once you’ve met a goal, you can pursue a higher one (lives changed, traffic, subscribers, etc.)

Blogging on a technical level is not too different from a game of chess, an RPG, or investing to me.  This is the ideal career for me if I can find a way to make money doing it.  Your career should include the elements that your personality naturally desires (Do What You Are can help you with finding that out).

3. Think Deeply About Your Talents and Limitations

It is not time for action quite yet.  All we’ve done is observe ourselves and extract out the key things we enjoy.  In my example I mentioned blogging as a career because I’ve already started doing it (I’ve gone through this process).  If you don’t yet know what to do, you need to consider what you’re good at and where you’re limited.

  • My first career love – football.  My second – basketball.  I would love to play either one professionally.  I’m very athletic, but I have a 135 pound frame… LIMITATION.
  • I think it would be a blast to make music for a living, but I’ve never put any time into it and my rhythm is questionable at best….LIMITATION.
  • My grammar, spelling, analytical ability, and math skills are above average.  My writing has improved dramatically since starting.  I could blog.  I could write a book.  This seems workable.

On some levels, I would rather play basketball or football for millions of dollars than blog (for 46 cents today).  But playing basketball doesn’t change lives – which is my goal with this blog.  Either way, I know that an NBA/NFL career is not realistic for me.  Be objective about what you cannot do – but do not let it be a source of negativity.  Focus on what you CAN do.

4. Recap and Final Step

  1. Look at some primary things that you find yourself drawn to. Video games, chess, investing.
  2. Extract out the common elements of those.  These are what you should look for in an occupation. Strategy, analyzing, challenge.
  3. Listen to what you’re telling yourself by comparing those elements to your current job or job path.  Are those needs being met now?  Will they eventually be met? Blogging: yes.  Lowe’s: no way.  Finance job: maybe, but not as fully as blogging.  Any other options?  I’m sure!
  4. Observe your skills, abilities, and limitations.  Focus on what you’re best at and what skills would give you the most pleasure in using. Analyzing, thinking, creating, being creative, and writing are some of my most valuable talents and they give me great pleasure when I use them.
  5. Find a job that meets all of the above criteria.  Look in an area of a personal interest. I enjoy analyzing, but I wouldn’t want to analyze skin tissue samples all day.  Blogging has the elements I enjoy, it requires many of my key skills, and I can blog about my personal interests (one of which is blogging), too!  This is why I work 80 hours a week and love it.

IMPORTANT: You may switch the order of 4 and 5.  Say you want to use 6 specific skills – a job might only use 3 of them and require some other skills that you also enjoy.  It may be best to look at jobs with your skill preferences in mind and see what is the best fit overall instead of going in with a rigid criteria.  However, you should be rigid about the most important skills you wish to utilize.

Dream world

That looks nice. Can you make money doing that?

Find Your Dream and Get Paid For It

There are careers in everything you can think of and some things you’ve never thought of.  Don’t immediately settle for the obvious career choice.  Weird careers are good because they tend to require some very interesting skills and cater to very unique “elements of interest” as discussed in step 1.  If you find yourself unimpressed with the typical jobs you see, consider these interesting career choices.

  1. Blogger (!) – There are many people who make a living by blogging.  I hope to add myself to the list.
  2. Ice Cream Taster – watch those calories!
  3. Inventor – Go ahead and create clothing that washes itself.
  4. Hot Air Balloon Tour Guide – The view must be nice.
  5. Snake Milker – Before you jump to conclusions, workers in this field extract the venom from the snake’s fangs.
  6. Laughter Therapist – Laughter is known to be a healthy activity, and when Seinfeld isn’t enough…
  7. Airboat Tour Guide in the Everglades – Not for everyone, but for some it might be a breath of hot, fresh air.
  8. Master sommelier– Wine experts that work in upscale restaurants, helping customers pair wine with food.
  9. Voice-over actor – Do you have a perfect deep gravel-voice like Alec Baldwin or Will Arnett?  Maybe Voice acting is for you!
  10. Beekeeper But won’t they sting you? Some people are passionate about this.  Bees are interesting and important insects.
  11. Palm Tree Trimmer – You won’t get paid much, but you get to work outside and look at the iconic palm tree all day.
  12. Traveling Carnival Jobs – Do you like to travel?  Do you enjoy Carnivals?  Another job where you’d have to love it because the money isn’t great.
  13. Roller Coaster Tester – You inspect the roller coasters, not ride them 😛
  14. Fire Scientist -Fascinated with fire?  This is your job! Plus, you get to blow things up.
  15. Delivering automobiles – My parents do this.  They drive pickup trucks all over the country and are paid for mileage.  If you like to drive but don’t want to drive a semi, then you may consider this.  Check with your local dealerships.
  16. Submarine Cook – pays up to $200,000 a year and you get to be in a freaking submarine!  Not for the claustrophobic.
  17. Banana Gasser – Nooo! These are not organic bananas! Ethylene is the gas used to ripen bananas quickly.
  18. Advertising author – Writing the promotional text on products.
  19. Ring Tone Recorder – These people create catchy ring tones.
  20. Brewmaster The Institute of Brewing and Distilling teaches you to become a brewer.
  21. Toy Creator – You can earn over $50,000 a year making toys.  Sounds like fun, right?
  22. Bed & Breakfast Owner – If you love hospitality, why not make beds and cook breakfast for a living?
  23. Pearl Diver – A dangerous job that can pay around $1,000 per day.

There you have it! 23 awesome career options, some of which I’m sure you’ve never heard of!

It took a lot of hard “play” to write this.  🙂

Kill The Invisible Critic – Be Prolific

Do you ever find yourself wanting to write about or do something controversial, risky,or outside of the norm? If you’re like me, the answer “all the time” is in red on the screen in front of you.

If you’re still like me, when this risky idea appears, you’ll often hesitate to pull the trigger on it and it eventually subsides. And why? The Invisible Critic is to blame!

We hesitate because The Invisible Critic is watching us. It sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake (™ Santa).  It watches especially closely when you’re about to step outside of those neat lines the world has drawn for you to play inside of.

Invisible man

The Invisible Critic. You're not supposed to be able to see it, but I wanted to add a picture. Shoot.

Ladies and Gentleman – The Invisible Critic

So who is this gender-neutral villain anyways? The Invisible Critic is a projection we create when we believe that “others” would think something negative about us or our idea if we actually did it. What if I fail and so-and-so finds out? What if she judges me for it? What if I offend somebody?

The critic creates a resistance to our idea before there is an actual resistance to it.  This is not to be confused with our own natural internal challenges to an idea. Internal challenges are based on the merit of the idea and not external worries.

This resistance is fake. Fabricated. False. Bogus. Phoney. Invisible. (did you get chills on that last one? Me neither. Darn.)

The Invisible Critic Show

Host: Hi, I’m your host and welcome to the show. Today’s guest is yet another Invisible Critic. Hello and welcome. How did you get your name, TIC? What brings you to the area?

TIC: My name comes from the fact that I criticize people, but I don’t exist. I’m here to intimidate the audience and I’m good at my job.

Host: Wow. What exactly do you mean? How do you intimidate people?

TIC: The people give me power. They create me because they’re worried about others’ opinion of their choices. I leverage that to intimidate them into not following through with some great ideas for their life. I often sound like a parent, relative, or friend and they worry about my reaction to their idea if implemented. I’m not actually those people – I’m just a representation of them in their mind, but I can do some serious damage, man!

Host: Wow, you are fascinatingly evil.

TIC: Yep.

Host: What about something like this idea? Where a blogger creates a fictitious character to try and make something more interesting at the risk of being laughed at, ridiculed, or doomed to internet obscurity? You’d pose as a specific person or general societal opinion in my mind and try to make me doubt this wonderful idea?

TIC: Yeeeeah man, that’s it. Hey, where is your invisible critic by the way?

Host: I’m sure he’ll be here soon.

TIC: You must not have any decent ideas, haha!

Host: Nice try, but you’re not my Invisible Critic. I don’t know whose invisible critic you are, but thank you for letting me interview you and *cough* I hope your owner destroys you soon. All you guys do is hold people back from reaching their potential. You stifle their creativity and make them think they shouldn’t try new things or risk failing.

TIC: True. So?

Host: So…why should we be scared of what others think if we’re doing what we honestly think is best for our lives? This could be a guy taking up yoga or ballet, a girl wanting to play professional football, or someone dropping out of school. All of these people might have “TICs” telling them not to pursue these things because of public perception.

If real people actually have concerns about us, they can voice them to us in real life. If they decide to cowardly whisper and talk behind our backs, then we shouldn’t associate with them anyways. Invisible Critics should be eliminated. It isn’t our job to control what others think about us, but to live the best lives we know how to.

TIC: But the unemployment rate is high and this is the only job I’m qualified for!

Host: I know of a guy who once created an Invisible Critic that criticized his desire to purchase a premium wordpress theme to improve his blog. His Invisible Critic told him that he couldn’t afford it, and that it was a waste of money because his blog would probably never amount to anything worthwhile. The Invisible Critic multiplied and took on the form of all the people that he figured might think that, and it got to him.

Underneath the doubt instilled by TICs (The Invisible Critics), he still believed in himself and his blog ideas and that he could afford to invest in the blog despite his financial struggles. He realized that The Invisible Critic was not a humanoid of constructive criticism, but one that used fear to control the actions of people everywhere. He decided not to worry about TIC anymore and began to live his life the best he knew how in a way that aligned with his goals and dreams.

TIC: You know our secret weapon is fear?

Host: Oh yeah, and I’m spreading the word, so you’d better run!

TIC: That man from the story. That was you, wasn’t it?

Host: You got it, buddy.

TIC: *runs away*

I tried to get his autograph, but sometimes Invisible Critics will run away as fast as they appear. I hope that one meets his maker. Could it be yours? If so, I think you should have a little chat with it and let it know who is boss of your life and who is NOT. Don’t let worry and fear of what the world thinks prevent you from making the right decisions and pursuing your dreams. Unconventional methods to success are abundant, so don’t be afraid to explore them!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to purchase that premium wordpress theme for my blog. I also quit my job on the first day despite being unemployed since I graduated with a Finance degree in July 2010. Without a job, I don’t have money for rent this month and I’m moving back in with my parents. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing yoga because it helps my back and general health. There is only one problem, I can’t seem to find My Invisible Critic anymore. It would have so much to say about these choices. Oh that’s right, we went our separate ways and I’m happier now. 😀

Write that controversial blog post, quit your job and move to Africa, take steps to start that business that you’ve always wanted to, or do whatever it is that you honestly think is best (or a smart risk). It is a great idea to seek and consider wise counsel from people that you trust, but don’t let your Invisible Critic scare you out of a good idea or decision before you really consider it. Keep in mind that conventional wisdom isn’t always the right choice for every person in every situation.

Be your own person.  Take ownership of your life.

Restart Your Life Every 30 Days

You’re in 3rd place.

Jacque is well ahead of you.  Sandy is within reach but gaining momentum.  You are not going to win this one.  But then it happens!  Jacque trips on a gumdrop and lands face down on a licorice space.  Meanwhile, you take rainbow road for a massive shortcut and the lead!

You were planning on going for purple because that would be the most squares forward.  However, you noticed rainbow road a couple of squares behind it and changed your strategy.  Jacque tripped on a gumdrop because he failed to reevaluate his environment.  Jacque was focused on getting on the square furthest away, but this yellow square was a licorice space (lose a turn) unlike the other yellow spaces.

Candy Land

Yes, I dared to use Candy Land as an example. 😛

Life = Static?  I Think Not!

Life is a dynamic….thing.  Today’s ideas are out of date tonight.  Next week’s plans are interrupted by 76 minute changes (I counted) in one’s environment.  Think about how many changes could occur over the period of months or years.  Do you regularly account for these changes?

When I play basketball and a defender moves in front of me – I react.  When a bee stings me – my body reacts.  When I hear beautiful music – my soul reacts.  When I see a beautiful woman of interest – the butterflies in my stomach take off.  This is typical human behavior (I am normal?!).

There is one area where humans are much less likely to react – and it is the most important one – life direction.  The reason is simple – a lack of critical, deep thinking.  This is the focus of my website because it is essential to personal development.    You won’t change something that you don’t think about.

So you’re set on going to college?

  • What about the fact that you made that decision at the age of 13 and you’re 18 now?
  • Has everything relating to that decision remained static for 5 years?
  • Have you considered that tuition costs have been skyrocketing?
  • Is your mindset exactly the same as it was back then?

No, so why rely on a 5-year-old decision?  That’s just passive living.  Passive living is the worst, by the way.

Crack Your Life’s Back

People plan for regular corrections or “alignments” in many aspects of life – company meetings, chiropractic back adjustments, family meetings, monthly budgets, training in sports to get back into shape, and countless more examples.  Great news!  This means that we already have the skills necessary to do this with the most important and far-reaching one of them all!

Restart your life every 30 days (or every month). First, you should think about what your purpose and short term goals are that relate to your long term goals.  Here are mine as an example:

As of today, my purpose/long term goal is to live actively and pursue financial independence by making money myself.  That is my long-term goal as far as “career” is concerned.  The short term goals that relate to it are

  1. Creating significant value for my readers
  2. Learning to write better
  3. Developing relationships with other bloggers to learn and connect with the blogging community
  4. Increasing my blog’s traffic
  5. Thinking of ways to monetize this blog

On May 1st I am going to rethink this.  I might come to the same conclusion.  Most likely, there will be some minor changes that better suit where I am on May 1st. I have added the event “reevaluate life” to my calendar for the 1st of every month.  This will ensure that my short term goals will constantly be realigned with my longer term goals based on my environment and current situation.

This is only one of my goals – but it is the one that is commanding my attention right now.  Maybe in a month I’ll become rich and lonely.  Then my reevaluation would involve a change in primary focus from career to personal life.  It isn’t that I regularly shun one or the other, but I need to decide how much time and effort are given to each area of life that matters to me.  Reevaluation allows me to choose according to my current situation.

Lord Licorice

Won't change your mind? Then say hello to Lord Licorice!

If you want, you can reevaluate every week.  As you get used to reevaluating your life, you’ll naturally begin to do it on the fly!  This is ideal.

Don’t be a kite in the wind – be a plane slicing through the wind, deciding its own destiny. The best way to do this is to think about your life direction actively.  Seeing as things can change in an instant, holding on to a decision you made 8 years ago seems most unwise.  It is ok to change your mind.

Changing your mind is sometimes seen as a negative thing – IT IS NOT!  Changing your mind shows initiative and an active mind.  Are we so foolish that we believe our first choice will always turn out nicely in an environment of constantly shifting variables?  If you aren’t willing to be flexible in this world, you’ll be shredded and torn apart by the moving parts.

Live Like A Shipwrecked Sailor

Day 47

Last night I was drinking rum and playing Hold ‘Em with the crew.  On the turn I smiled inside, as that Jack of clubs had just given me a flush.  John was already all-in, and I lured Sayid into an all-in bet of 4 bottles of rum.  Jack was still in with more goods for me to claim.  They had 3 of a kind at best – Jack maybe had a straight.  Either way, I knew the spoils were mine.  The river came as a 3 of hearts and I baited Jack into all-in status with the rest.  In the pot was a total of 19 bottles of rum, 3 loaves of sourdough, 4 weeks of deck cleaning, and a nice seaman’s knife.

As I flipped my cards in celebration, the entire room shook as if a spear-headed whale rammed into the ship at 50 knots.  Water gushed in.  The hull was pierced by the shoals – captain never saw it comin’.

I scrambled to find useful items – the knife on the table, a mirror, and obviously as much rum as I could carry…and I dove into the ice-cold rough waters.  I dove before she went down and to the opposite side of the pierced section so as to avoid the shoals myself.  The sea tossed me around like a ragdoll as I struggled to keep my head up for occasional breaths.  I luckily managed to swim to a nearby beach and collapsed on the shoreline, gripping the sand in rage and relief.

Here I am the next morning. Stranded.  This island isn’t even on maps.  I know the chances of survival in this scenario are grim.  I was the only one to make it ashore.  I think the others were too drunk to even swim, or mercilessly dashed against the rocks as they wrestled with the sea.  As for me, the only thing I can hope to do is survive long enough to be found – and so I will.

~ Sawyer

Let’s reflect for a minute on Sawyer’s mindset right now – “survive.”  His life just got a whole lot simpler and yet more difficult, not by choice.  His perspective has changed in some very key ways (and a shift in perspective means life change).

  1. Sawyer is serious about surviving.  It is not just something he’d like to do, it is his mission.  At dusk on day 3 of island life, he chased a boar through the woods and his face was gashed by an outreaching thorn branch – he used the adrenaline to run faster.
  2. Sawyer has clarity and focus about what he wants and this simplifies his actions.  He never thought he’d drink his own urine, but when it didn’t rain for a while and his bottles were out, he had to do it to survive.  He does what it takes and he will not be stopped.
  3. With a clear end-goal in sight, Sawyer is very creative in ways he can reach that goal.  He figured out how to make effective traps out of natural resources to catch the animals on the island, used his mirror as a fire-starter, and made a spear to fish with.  He built fortresses made out of sticks/leaves/branches, sharpened his knife with rocks, and created a useful twine out of plants.

What if you approached your goals and dreams like Sawyer approached survival?  Sawyer is motivated by the strong will to live, as should we.  Our physical lives aren’t in much danger, but our lives in every other sense absolutely are.  If you’ve gone a couple/few years without coming closer to your dreams, then consider them to be in critical condition.

When you get serious about your dreams, you’ll start doing crazy things in order to pursue them.  You’ll fail here and there, be rejected and discouraged at times, and have to work your tail off.  It will not be easy, but as your face bleeds from the branches and the poison ivy itches miserably, you are thrilled to eat boar meat that night (sorry vegetarians).

Just like the boar example, pursuing your dreams is more difficult than not doing it.  But as you inch closer to reaching them, the battle scars become treasured souvenirs of your journey to live.  Also of note, the higher difficulty of dream-seeking is counter-balanced by your desire to reach your dreams.  This website is a part of my dreams, and I regularly work 12+ hour days on it.  It’s fun work.

If you’re not living your dreams right now, you have to realize that they are and will remain in serious danger and critical condition.  The only way to ensure you achieve them is to pursue them with the vigor that a shipwrecked sailor has to survive on an uninhabited island.  Others will resist and question your decisions along the way because pursuing dreams almost always involves risk-taking.  Be prepared to face and overcome that by having the right mindset in advance.

If you’re inspired by this, but aren’t sure what to do next, start a deep thinking session to come up with a basic idea for getting from A (here and now) to X (Dreamlandia).  Don’t make it too rigid though, because you’d be missing out on the crucial #3 point above – openness to creative solutions.  Sawyer didn’t have one method of getting food, he had several.  This is a smart and natural way to diversify risk.

driftwood beach

Day 7,423

My beard is really long.  I’ve nearly died 146 times if you count the poison ivy incident (I know I do).  I’m not sure how I made it 20 years on this island – I just had one goal and that was to live.  I wonder what it will be like to go back to civilization.  I’ve been talking with a boar’s head (Mike) and a coconut (Princess Coco) to keep up my conversation skills and retain knowledge of English.  I figure once I get back that even peoples’ nastiest expressions can’t be worse than this boar’s ugly mug.

Journal, my time here is up.  I was able to SOS a nearby ship and they managed to maneuver around the shoals.  Hmm…I bet I could start a TV show on living in the wild.  I have more experience than most.  One thing the island has taught me is that life is a gift – not something to be taken for granted. And as such it should be lived with the greatest intensity, passion, and vigor possible.  The very things I needed to survive this place.

~ Saywer

Note: fictional names were chosen in honor of LOST

Tough Decisions, Big Risks

I have just made a tough decision – the toughest of my life.

In July 2010, I graduated with a B.S.B.A. in Finance.  November 2010, I decided to move to Virginia without a job, at first living with friends and family and finally moving into an apartment with a friend on a 5 month sublease.  Still, no job.  My friend got two jobs so I went ahead and moved in with plans to get one of my own.

Amazingly, passage of time makes it more difficult to pay rent without income.Read More