Navigating career paths seems like an overwhelming task nowadays, no matter what professional niche you’re in. There is so much information, opportunities that seem endless but contradictory, a wealth of advice and career coaching that goes in widely different directions, and so on.
With this kind of background, goal setting or figuring out what you should do with your professional life seems like a hopeless task. All is a gamble and no matter what type of coaching wisdom about career paths you listen to, you’re still going to end up better or worse based mostly on luck, right? Well, it turns out things are far from being that fatalistic and there may actually be a logic you should follow when it comes to your personal development goals.
The theory we will discuss here, one which is actually basic enough to be verifiable and authentic, but which is also surprising when you first hear about it, can be called the 3 career paths theory. If you look closely to every success story or career inspirational case study you can find, it all comes down to people who managed to realize sooner rather than later what they truly loved doing, and what they were truly good at doing. Be careful: the things you love to do and the things you’re most good at are rarely the same thing. This doesn’t mean that you’re good at being an engineer when you’d actually rather be playing the piano or things like that. No; instead, every human activity and every profession consists of 3 main kinds of things to be better or worse at, or to enjoy less or more. Here is what we mean by it.
The 3 Basic Career Paths for Everyone
This basic theory of the 3 career paths is that the three sides to everything are achievement, affiliation and competence. These are the main types of drivers and motivators for roughly anything we do. They can also be translated to 3 simpler terms, referring to the things which are most important to us in what we do: winning, friends and craft. In other words, no matter what you think you should orient yourself towards, what you heard ‘pays off’ and so on, you will instinctively still prefer one aspect of your activity best. If you are attentive to details and take pride in doing things right, you are mostly driven by competence (craft), no matter how much you force yourself to connect with peers (because you heard that networking is important). If you are driven by taking pride in accomplishment, results, and beating high scores, you then like winning the most, which means you are best suited for the path of achievement.
If you think back on your past career conducts, you patterns of behavior and what you seemed to excel at most, you will surely notice that you are most motivated by one of the 3 (you enjoy that aspect most) but are also better at one, as well. In the luckiest of cases, the thing you enjoy most and the one you are best at will coincide, which will make goal setting much easier. In other cases, if you are dealing with 2 of the three career paths described here, you will need to create the mix that suits you best when you prepare to set your goals for your future approach to personal development.
Your career will be affected by the way you choose to proceed next, based on the insight you obtain when reflecting upon there 3 basic career paths described above. The most common trope regarding career building is that everything needs to be done with passion, you have to give it your best and so on. While that isn’t necessarily wrong, it doesn’t say much either; what ‘your best’ means from case to case, and how your work passion manifests itself can be quite different from case to case. This is why the sooner you can figure out which of the 3 career paths would make you shine best (and be the most satisfied with what you do), the sooner you can start shining.
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