How to choose a career, stop looking and start thinking about your career values

How to choose a career can be a challenge. If you think that you have got a “bit of life” behind you it can be quite helpful to have a look at it and see what themes and patterns are running through it. This is one of the secrets of learning how to choose a career, do a bit of reflection.

  Then you can make some choices.  You can either go on and continue the themes or make some changes.


“Lifeline” - Activity


Take a large sheet of paper, A3 is best and A4 on its side will work, and draw a long line that will represent your life; straight or curved, it doesn’t matter, although not many of us lead straight forward lives.


Now, on the line mark all the significant events in your life; those events that caused your life to be what it was, the good and the bad.  It doesn’t matter where you start; it may be helpful to mark the line into periods of five or ten years.  You may want to include significant meetings with people, books you read, decisions, moves you made and so on.


You don’t have to do it all at once, add to it as memories come back to you.


Using your own symbols start to analyse your lifeline.  Ask yourself and answer these questions:


·         Mark those times you remember as being unhappy and the happy times.

·         Which experiences happened because you wanted them?  Which happened because you felt it was expected of you?

·         Which were your good decisions, which not so good?

·         Mark the risks you took.

·         When did you have major learning experiences?

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You can’t change the past; however you can learn from it and that learning can help you understand how to choose a career.  What does your lifeline show you?


·         Who has been running your life?

·         What has been important?

·         What patterns do you see?

·         What is the theme running through your life?

·         What was there that made the bad times bad and the good times good?

·         What do you want less of?

·         What do you want more of?

·         What are you going to do about all this?

Some suggestions for starting.


·         Write down your present situation. Include all the important things in your life, present or absent.

·         Mark those things you want to be different.

·         Describe how you want your life to be.  What you want to have in it, what you want to do with it, how you want to be.  You can write it down, draw it or extend your lifeline into the future.


The clearer you can be on what your specific goals and values are, and the more often you think about it and see it in your mind’s eye, the more likely it is to happen.


Here is some space for you to begin writing out your thoughts.

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Reflection and taking stock is how to choose a career that fits your values. Here is some space for you to begin writing out your thoughts. Remember this reflection will help you order the past, understand your historical career choices and help you identify your career values. All these activities will be invaluable in helping figure out how to choose your career.


Your present situation:







Things important in your life...present/absent:







Things you want to be different:







How you want your life to be - what/how/etc:







When you have considered all these things, return to your LIFELINE drawing, and re-design it to reflect your desired lifeline into the future. You should be a little closer on knowing what to do nest and how to choose a career for you.

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