How to Pick a Career Path

If you don’t know what you want to do, then you are going to experience a certain amount of psychological discomfort with any job you have. The problem isn’t the job, it’s your lack of direction. My advice: Keep working and saving while you are developing an ambition.

How do you develop an ambition if you don’t have one? That’s a subject big enough for an entire book – one that I wouldn’t do a very good job of writing. But here are just a few ideas to get you started.

1. Think back to your childhood. What did you want to do then? Is there still a spark of something left? Could it be ignited?

2. Be honest with yourself. Do you have a secret goal that you are not admitting to anyone, perhaps not even to yourself? Are you embarrassed to admit that what you really want to do is play professional tennis or dance on Broadway? Let that ambition out of the closet. Even if you lack the resources to accomplish it completely, there are all sorts of adaptations you can probably make that would suit you just fine.

3. Spend as little time as possible watching television and playing video games. They steal your time and deaden your imagination. There will be plenty of time to waste on those things once your career is in place. Right now, you owe your life some focused attention.

If you’ve plumbed the depths and come up with nothing, don’t panic. What I’ve discovered about career happiness is this: It comes from working hard on something you care about. And there are so many things in life you can learn to care about … from pets to police work to poverty. Keep your mind and heart open to the possibilities and something will come.

(Source: Michael Masterson’s newest book, Automatic Wealth for Grads … and Anyone Else Just Starting Out.) [Ed. Note: Have you already read Automatic Wealth for Grads … and Anyone Else Just Starting Out? Let Michael know how it’s helped you. What’s the single most useful piece of advice you discovered in the book? And how have you used it in your pursuit of wealth and success? Let him know at … and maybe you’ll see your name in print in a future issue of ETR.] [Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]