Three ways to focus your career

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get out of bed and quickly get ready for a fun-filled weekend? Career motivation works much the same way. Ideally, you would choose a profession that you love, work toward a related college degree, start an internship while in college, and get hired upon graduation, right?Hats off to all of those who follow this direct path; it takes great discipline, brain power, self-knowledge and luck.The reality of it is that you’ve probably switched your major a few times, finally graduated with a degree, but ended up working in an unrelated – and unfulfilling – field. It can be impossible to advance if you don’t like what you’re doing.Wherever you are in your career, if you find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation, stop what you are doing and get focused. Here are three ways to do it:1. Know Thyself. What are your hobbies? What do you love to do? What’s important to you? Put together an ongoing list of your own personality traits, likes, dislikes, priorities and values. Within this list you’ll discover your strengths. Stop listening to well-intentioned loved ones who tell you what you “should” be doing, and start paying attention to what you would like to do.Take a personality test. Although there are free quick and easy ones on the Web, dig a little deeper and check out a book on this topic from your local library. Tests such as Myers-Briggs can suggest careers that would match your personality preferences. Invest some time in this and don’t take it lightly – it can bring focus and meaning to your career search.2. Identify the skill sets that interest you. Specific careers have skill sets attached to them. Construction managers need to monitor progress and coordinate multiple projects. Fire fighters are service-oriented and must know how to select equipment. Nurses are active listeners and keen decision-makers.What skill sets interest you most? Least? What jobs match your preferred skill sets?If you have about 20 minutes to spare, the U.S. Department of Labor can help you answer those questions. Try the free online Skills Profiler, which offers a few different ways to get started.Knowing which skills sets you prefer and dislike can be a great tool. Not only can you compare them to any job offer, you can also use them as a guide throughout your career.Does your current role meet your skill set preferences? Or is it at least pointing you in the right direction to eventually achieve them?3. Define your own success. What does success mean to you? What specifically does it look like? Once you’ve figured out your strengths and narrowed down the career that will suit you best, you can begin to build it. Set your goals and review them frequently, revising them as needed to ensure that they are still in line with what you want.Finally, a job is nothing without you. That’s why resumes look so different from job descriptions. And if you’re on the path that’s right for you, your career will flourish in the right direction.Margaret Hansen is a marketing and content developer for, an online employment search site for job-seekers and employers in New Hampshire.