1) Most of us are in the position of making a career choice very early on in life and when we are young, it isn't so easy to decide whether or not the career we choose will suit us for a lifetime. Making a good career choice is actually about a lot more than choosing a job; it's about choosing something that will provide you with the lifestyle you seek. Don't decide until you're ready. Although this seems obvious advice, too many young people feel pressured into making a choice before they are really sure of what it is they want to do. In fact, many young people don't even know who they are, let alone what they want to become! If you need time, take off a year or two to go and discover yourself and what you're good at. School doesn't teach you a lot of life skills – life does. Many successful people take off time to slowly work out what it is that makes them tick and brings them fulfillment.
2) Look for breadth in your career choice. Instead of trying to narrow down your options, it can be helpful to keep open as many options as possible within your chosen trade, profession, or field of expertise. That way, you gain maneuverability and flexibility as you and the job change. For example, if you want to be a marine biologist, why not consider also taking a course in photography and writing, so that you can write or photograph stories about what is under the sea on a freelance basis. Keeping open your options might mean a little extra study but it will be worth it in the long run when you gain increased flexibility.
3) Work to your strengths. Even if you are well into your chosen course, training, internship, or induction for your career, and find that you are always relying on your less strong attributes, it pays to stop and reassess the worth of continuing on this course. A lifetime spent working in an area where you don't get to rely on your strengths for the majority of the time will cause you a great deal of stress and disharmony and can prevent growth and enjoyment of your career. A good career will, on the whole, have you working to your strengths.
4) Volunteer in your desired career. There is no better way to know whether or not the career is for you than to just pitch in and get your hands dirty. It's much more likely to happen if you take on such roles without payment, especially where the employer understands your motivations. If you can handle the work thrown to you and still want more, you're likely to be onto a winner. Moreover, the network contacts built up during volunteer experiences are priceless.
5) Talk to people who work in your desired career. Ask them such questions as: "Do you still enjoy working in this career after all these years?", "What is it about this job that you like the most?", "What are the downsides to this job?", "Do you find that this job lets you have a good work-life balance?" Ask away and you will soon get a good sense of fit for you.
6) Listen to advice but make your own decision ultimately. Parents, teachers, friends, careers counselors – all of them tend to mean well but they're not you. It's you who has to feel comfortable with the cloak you wear, the boots you strap on, and the daily routine that you adapt to. Nobody else can truly know what works for you. Also, don't be put off by stories from people who have nothing to do with your career but have a bag of hearsay to feed you, both good and bad. They don't know, and often what they do know is gleaned from the entertainment industry, hardly a decent resource for reality! Be polite but do your own research and thinking on the matter. The same principles apply to a change of career, something that happens often in mid-life but can also happen early on, or even much later. As with making your first decision, having the right information at your fingertips is crucial, including information about the acceptance by the industry or business in question of taking on someone in your position. Again, don't listen to other people's stories; you can rely more on those who actually work still in the particular career you intend to switch to, but even then, they cannot fully comprehend what you might bring to a new career with your previous experience in tow. Do your research, soul-searching, additional training, and stick with your convictions. Importantly, change of career is considered to be a lot more normal and responsible than it has been at any other time in history (leaving out politicians, of course!).