This post is featured on behalf of Stacey White.

There are few things more challenging in this life than coming to a fork in the road. Whether it’s the chance for a relationship vs the freedom of being single, moving to a new place vs the comfort of home, or any other choice, the decision is almost never easy.

And few decisions are more difficult than trying to figure out your career path. Once you’re out of college and you’re out in the world, the question of “what do you want to do with your life?” can really start to loom large over your head. Whether people are asking you or you’re just thinking about it on your own, it’s the kind of question that can leave you feeling stressed, frustrated, and under pressure.

One of the hardest things about figuring out what to do with your life is that it can often be just as difficult to decide what it is you want to do as it is actually to do it. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible or that you’re going to find yourself having to put up with something that you don’t want for the rest of your life. It just means that if you want to find something that you really enjoy, then there are a few crucial questions that you’re going to have to ask yourself.

What makes you happy?

This might sound like the simplest and most obvious question in the world, but that’s simply because a lot of people just don’t give it enough thought. 

It’s not just a matter of knowing what things interest you or what you enjoy. You need to think about where your passions really lie. What could you imagine yourself doing every single day for the rest of your life and still be happy? Now the question feels just a little more complicated, doesn’t it? Well, just because it’s more complicated doesn’t mean that it’s any less important.

And don’t just write things off because you assume that you couldn’t make a career out of them. Does being creative make you happy? Why not become a freelance writer? Is your favorite thing in the world working with your hands? Well, then there’s a whole host of trades that you could have as a possible career. Or maybe you’re the type of person that your friends come to for beauty advice, and you’d be perfect for a career as an Esthetician.

The point is to zero in on the thing that you love more than anything else and go after it.

What are you good at?

Of course, as much as it would be nice to think so, you can’t just throw yourself into anything just because you enjoy it. The truth is that if you really want a successful career, then you need to have a certain set of skills.

The best careers in the world are ones that meet the intersection of what you’re passionate about and what you’re actually good at. After all, trying to become a writer is no use if you don’t have a decent grasp of the necessary skills.

Sure, not every type of esthetician needs to have a medical degree, but even spa estheticians need a decent knowledge of the way that certain products and chemicals interact with human skin.

Of course, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have all of the skills that you need right away.

If you’re really that passionate about what you want to do with your life, then there are plenty of ways to develop the skills that you need, especially thanks to the internet.

Could you start at the bottom?

Of course, it would be ridiculous to assume that, even with all the skills you need, you could just start at the top of your field doing the job that you really want.

The reality is that most careers involve the need for progression and growth over time. You’re not going to be able to start out on the highest salaries or with the most responsibility. We all have to pay our dues and put in the time before we can reach the place that we really want to be.

Do you have the patience to stick it out?

In fact, there may be periods of time where you have to work doing something that you’re not quite as passionate about as a stepping stone towards what you really want out of life. This can be pretty discouraging for a lot of people, but it’s important to keep your goals in mind.

The truth is that the time between choosing what you want to do and making it happen can often be long and frustrating. If you’re not willing to put in that time and effort, then you may well never reach what you want. This is the mistake that far too many people make. They treat stepping stones and roadblocks and never manage to get past them. Sure, doing something that you don’t enjoy as much before you reach your ideal career can be incredibly frustrating, but the only difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is whether or not they’re actually willing to stick it out.

If you give up because it feels as though the path to your dream job is taking too long, then it may not have been the right job for you in the first place.

Of course, don’t assume that just because you’ve been able to answer these questions that finding your perfect career is going to somehow become a total walk in the park. The truth is that there will always be challenges that crop up and try to get in your way. However, if you’re sure that you’re following the path that’s right for you, then you’re far more likely to be able to get past those obstacles and prevent them from making your life harder than it needs to be.

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