What Matters in Your Career

Conversations about careers can often become very linear and focused on the most obvious aspects. What job do you want? How much will it pay? How do you get it? Where will you work?

There is nothing wrong with these questions, of course, they are all very important. But if we only pay attention to these issues, we can become distracted from other things that really matter. Questions like ‘what job?’ and ‘how much will it pay?’ are often more useful if they come at the end of a process that we can sometimes skip over too quickly.

In section 1 we looked at an exercise devised by Tal Ben-Shahar, (2002 )[1] that focused on meaning, pleasure and strengths (see “Setting Meaningful Goals“). When thinking about your career, it can help to return to this exercise and use it as your starting point.

Once you’ve identified those things that you find meaningful, pleasurable and that use your strengths, you can then consider the types of careers that might allow you to meet all three elements. As we discuss elsewhere in this section, it is important to look at careers (plural), not just one career or job (singular). By focusing on a variety of possible careers that will be potentially fulfilling, you open up more routes to a successful and happy life.

It may help if you complete this exercise and then speak to someone in the Careers Service in your university. They may be able to help you identify more possible routes forward.

Then you can start to focus on those final important details like how much you will earn and where those types of careers are located. 

Having done this, you can then build a plan to take you towards those careers. This may include attending recruitment events, identifying where relevant jobs are advertised or filling in gaps in your knowledge or current skills.

Building towards a career plan in this way, will ensure that your eventual plan is more sophisticated and realistic and that it will result in you finding a fulfilling career.



Ben-Shahar, T. (2002). The question of happiness : on finding meaning, pleasure, and the ultimate currency. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Zwp1ej9c-lsC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=Ben+Shahar+meaningful+goals&ots=2OLDhpx9VB&sig=QnBAFxnN3OHAcrJWZ2EUS_yoNuQ#v=onepage&q=Ben Shahar meaningful goals&f=false