Whether you are a high school student trying to decide what to do with the rest of your life or you’re in the workforce but thinking about making a change, figuring out what your career should be is not easy. Asking yourself the questions below can help you narrow it down.


The first thing to consider is what is important to you. Is it making a lot of money, helping people, doing something that you are interested in and excited about, having prestige, or being intellectually stimulated? Be honest instead of choosing what you think should be your answer because this really is about choosing what will make you happy in life.


How do you want to spend your days? This question is just as important as making sure that you work at something that fulfills your underlying values. Do you want to be outdoors, doing something physical? Do you want to sit in an office all day? Do you want to live the digital nomad life for a while? Do you want to work with others as part of a team, or do you prefer to work on your own? Do you want to work with the public? Do you want to be in a role where you are teaching or leading others, or would you rather be working with numbers and data? Be as specific as possible about what you want here.


Your abilities and aptitude matter although not as much as you might imagine. Try not to box yourself in by telling yourself that you just aren’t good at math or lack the technical know-how for a particular line of work. Everyone has certain limitations, but with the right motivation, teacher, and approach to learning, you might be able to excel at things you never considered yourself to be particularly good at. Keep in mind at well that just because you are naturally good at something doesn’t mean that you have to pursue it as a career choice.


Another thing to consider is what kind of preparation you will need for your chosen career. You may need specialized training, certification or a degree. Whether you are going to college for the first time or you’re returning after years at work, you may be able to take out Earnest student loans to help pay for your tuition and other related costs. You may be eligible for federal aid, grants and scholarships as well to ease the financial burden of tuition costs.


It’s easy to overthink and worry too much about the future when you’re planning your career. In some cases, thinking ahead is smart. “I want to have a family and spend a lot of time with them” might not be compatible with the long hours demanded in corporate law, so you might want to look for a career with a better work life balance. However, don’t get too caught up in vague misgivings about what you might want in 10 or 20 years. Changing careers at least once if not more often in your lifetime is no longer an unusual occurrence.