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4 reasons to choose a career that plays to your strengths

By Emilly Parris

We all have certain strengths and weaknesses we bring into our working lives, regardless of occupation or status. Strengths can help us choose a career that we can excel in, while our weaknesses give us greater insight into where we can improve.

In a recent podcast, guest speaker and social scientist Arthur Brooks discussed the topic of playing to your strengths throughout your career. Brooks’ research showed how strengths can change as you age, and that knowing this can help you plan your career moves more effectively.

By choosing a career that plays to your strengths, you can have a varied working life that is rewarding and leaves behind a legacy that you can be proud of. Here are 4 reasons why choosing a career based on your strengths is a wise decision:

4 reasons to choose a career that plays to your strengths

  1. Your career peak will be in your 30s and 40s.
  2. Your priorities will change as you age.
  3. Chasing the wrong career goals can leave you unfulfilled.
  4. Limitations are not necessarily a bad thing.

1. Your career peak will be in your 30s and 40s.

career peak concept

According to an analysis from PayScale in the U.S, women’s pay peaks at age 39 at about $60,000. Meanwhile, men’s salaries continue to grow until age 48 and reach a median of $95,000. Money, however, isn't the only tell-tale sign that things are slowing down.

Brooks also believes that our fluid intelligence begins to decline in our 30s and 40s. Fluid intelligence refers to your “cognitive horsepower”, which is your creative capacity to analyse things quickly, offer solutions and come up with new ideas.” In other words, after we reach a certain age, our new ideas won’t seem as sharp.

Instead, workers beyond age 50 have what’s called ‘crystallised intelligence’, meaning they are much wiser than their young counterparts. This certainly supports the theory that wisdom comes with age. Older people's knowledge and experience means their strengths lie in making better decisions for the future, which is highly beneficial in the workplace.

Many employers recognise the benefits of hiring older workers because their strengths align with the organisation’s goals.

2. Your priorities will change as you age.

As we age, our priorities, interests and passions change. Early in your career, you may be solely focused on supporting your family with a higher paying job. As your children grow up, your preferences may shift towards a more relaxed role that closer aligns with your hobbies. Many older workers also find that upon nearing retirement, they want roles that will help them be more connected to their community.

Pivoting gives you the opportunity to not only develop new skills and harness your unrealised talents, but to connect with like-minded people of a similar age and mindset

3. Chasing the wrong career goals can leave you unfulfilled.

upset asian woman working on laptop

Brooks says the four idols we tend to seek are money, power, pleasure and fame. Research has shown that you can be happy in spite of these things, but never because of them.

Within the context of choosing a career, it’s easy to view the markers of success as money and status. However, success can come in many other forms such as more freedom and a better work-life balance.

Older workers have spent more time in the workforce, they understand themselves better and tend to choose careers that are more flexible, less stressful and more relaxed. This allows them to spend more time with their families and focus on other matters in their lives.

By no means does this finding suggest that pursuing greater financial freedom is wrong, it simply implies that the pace with which we live our lives changes as we switch gears and focus our efforts elsewhere.

4. Limitations are not necessarily a bad thing.

We are all born with personal traits we have no control over, such as being introverted rather than extroverted or being more analytical than creative-minded. You may be limited creatively, but your ability to analyse information and offer solutions is a highly sought-after skill. Focusing too strongly on what you’re lacking does not allow you to embrace what you have and put it to good use.

There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself and taking on new responsibilities, but finding a balance between what you love and what you can change will help you both professionally and personally.

Considering a new career? The right qualification can help you get there faster. Check out Upskilled’s list of available courses, or chat to one of their education consultants to learn more about how to make the switch.
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