Career Planning For Your Lifestyle

The standard wisdom when it comes to life planning is to choose your career and let your lifestyle follow. The reality however is that not many of us would be happy if we planned our lives this way—and this is one reason that so many people are unhappy with their choices. Odds are, the way you spend your life (your lifestyle) will determine much more about your happiness than the sector you decide to work in.

There are two aspects to your lifestyle, and for many occupations, they may overlap. There is your lifestyle during work hours and your lifestyle outside of work hours. Your hours are also part of your decision. We recommend that you try an inverse approach to life planning.

Figure out what type of lifestyle you want, and then choose a career which actually will support it.

There’s no way to get everything you want unfortunately, so you’ll need to learn how to prioritize. If having a lot of free time so you can balance your work life with your family life is important to you, for example, odds are you can’t also decide to be a top executive who calls the shots for a huge company, drives a fancy European car, and has marble floors.

If you do want that kind of professional responsibility, you’ll probably be working longer hours. So you need to ask yourself, “What are my priorities? What do I want from my life? Do I draw meaning from my work, my family, my personal projects, something else?” Here are a number of questions you should ask yourself before you even choose a career path:

  • Do I want to work long hours or short hours? How much control do I want over how I spend my time and when I work?
  • What salary level do I need to sustain the lifestyle I want?
  • Do I want to have a family? How big a family? How much money will I need to support them? How much time will I need to support them emotionally?
  • Do I want to live in a city or a rural area? Do I want to stay in one place or move regularly?
  • How much time do I want to spend commuting?
  • Do I want to work at home, in an office, in the field, or in some other environment?
  • Do I want a desk job? Would I prefer physical work? Do I want to work with my hands? Do I want to perform?
  • How important is reputation to me? What kind of prestige am I after?
  • Do I want to call the shots, or am I more comfortable taking orders?
  • Do I want to work individually or with a team?
  • What’s the most important thing to me? Money? Balance? Time with loved ones? Mobility? Possessions? What order do I rank the necessities in my life in?

And so on. There are endless questions you can ask yourself. For most of us, lifestyle is pretty instinctive and hardwired. It should be relatively easy to answer the questions honestly. Will it be easy to find an ideal career which will suit your needs? Probably not. But if you at least make the effort to find something which will suit you, you improve the odds that eventually, you’ll find some degree of happiness.

If you pursue the wrong course just because it’s easier or someone else expects it of you, you may be on the path of least resistance, but eventually you’ll realize that you’ve wasted years of your life. Planning around your lifestyle needs is a tough choice, but it can pay off in more ways than one.

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