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For the bulk of your time in high school, the sky may feel like the limit. An overwhelming amount of career pathways are open to you, and it can be tricky to feel as though you know yourself well enough to pick just one.
The good news is that you don't need to put your entire future into career aptitude or personality tests alone, and there are methods you can use to help naturally finetune your list of potential career pathways.
Feel free to follow the 4-step process we've provided below as a jumping off point that'll kickstart your plans for attaining tertiary qualifications.
Step 1: Identify your passions and values
At our core, we all have values that drive us right alongside our passions. It's common for people to prioritise their passions over their values when trying to find their perfect pathway, but a role that can equally cater to both your values as well as your passions is more likely to be a role that you'll enjoy for years to come.
Aged care courses in TAFE, for instance, tend to highlight the importance of practising empathy alongside utilising analytical skills, as this industry demands that support workers and carers stay well-versed in symptom identification, as well as ensuring that those they're caring for are feeling enriched, and are able to maintain their emotional health and wellbeing.
If you have a passion for medicine and psychology, as well as community-oriented values, and a desire to be a lasting support pillar to people you care for, then a career in aged care may be perfect for you.
Step 2: Find your professional purpose
Once you've adequately identified your passions and values, you can use these to help mold your professional purpose. This sense of purpose is the product of not just the two qualities that you took the time to identify in Step 1, but also your natural talents and what you feel you'd like to accomplish in your professional life.
Think about the natural talents and abilities that you possess, and how best you feel you can share these abilities with your wider community. If there are any careers that align with your professional purpose, be sure to make note of them to get a headstart on Step 3.
It's also worth noting that the idea of a 'professional purpose' transcends cultural boundaries. The French call it a 'raison d'etre', and the Japanese call it 'ikigai'.
This vital balance between what you love and what you do can be observed in every corner of the world, and it's concrete evidence that you deserve to embrace any professional opportunity you feel that you can thrive in.
Step 3: Curate a list of potential roles
As you may imagine, there's a lot to weigh up when you're considering any set career pathway, with your professional purpose being the tip of the iceberg.
Even so, you can use your professional purpose to start putting together a list of jobs or professions that you feel align with your personality and values.
This list can be extensive, in fact don't worry too much if it is quite lengthy. If anything, it's always good to have some variety throughout this pathway process, as it'll allow you to get really up close and personal with what makes you tick.
Remember that any career pathway doesn't have to be a permanent life sentence either. You may choose to enter one industry as a young professional, and then move on to become a teacher in that field in future, or possibly even move to another career path altogether. People change, and you always have the right to do what you love.
Step 4: Outline your personal career goals
Now that you have your shortlisted positions, it's time to assess which ones best align with your professional purpose.
If there are any clear standouts, it's worthwhile taking some time to put together some clear personal career goals, just to see if any of your shortlisted positions can cater to them.
For instance, if you have ambitions to build a brand, but are also looking to tell stories, a career in marketing or advertising may be perfect for you.
Outlining your personal career goals can also greatly aid you in penning a personal mission statement for your CV. In turn, a CV with a personal mission statement will demonstrate to potential employers that you have been taking the time to identify and engage with your professional career goals.
People are more likely to employ candidates who demonstrate genuine purpose and passion for the position they're applying for.
As Kierkegaard famously said, 'the greatest form of despair is to live a life that's not your own'. You owe it to yourself to take all the time you need to really engage with your interests, and really answer the key question of what you want from your life.