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How to Select a Career and Stay Focused

Counselors' Tips

As students, many career and education options are open to us, especially with the growing popularity of online education. It can be frustrating and difficult to pick a career that fits you personally.

Once that difficult decision is made, the challenge becomes maintaining focus and motivation while in school in order to obtain your career goal.

Selecting Your Career

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Before you make a career choice, you have to assess yourself honestly and thoroughly. Really think about your own values and interests and make a list.

For example, if you are savvy with computers or skilled at organizing then write that down. You can use a self-assessment test online, otherwise referred to as a career aptitude test.

Ask yourself a very important and sometimes difficult question. What do you want? What do you need from a career to make you happy? For some people that answer might center on income, working in a specific industry or you might prefer working outdoors.

Make a list of all the careers you are considering. Don’t just put down the job title; include the education requirements, average salary and any pertinent information.

Such as, if you want to be a doctor then you will not only have to complete so many years of education, you will have to complete a residency after medical school. This visualization will help you compare and contrast.

As you are coming up with occupations based upon your own unique personality, keep in mind you should only select a career field which is halal and will provide clean money for your family. You don’t want to work with beer breweries or industries that cater to immoral behaviors.

Narrow Down Selection

Once you have a partial list, start to analyze them. If you don’t want to spend more than 4 years in college delete anything that requires a graduate degree. Compare the options you compiled and try to narrow your selection down. If you are struggling with this, ask a friend or family member for help.

Talk to people that know your strengths and weaknesses, they can help you identify which careers suit you better.

Reach out and talk to people in this profession. You might find out it entails more than you realized or has specific duties you don’t like. Use websites like LinkedIn to find people in those career fields and reach out. Think of it like interviewing them to see if this is the job you really want.

Once you think you have selected your career path, pray istikhara . This is a great sunnah that was encouraged by the Prophet Mohamed (Peace, blessings and mercy of Allah upon him) for not just large decisions, but anything we are unsure of.

“’If any one of you is deliberating about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two Rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer…”[Sunan Al-Nasa’i]

If you are still unsure, keep praying istikhara and spend time in self-reflection. This is a very important decision that will impact your future, don’t rush it and make sure your final decision belongs to you.

Planning and Focus in School

Once you select your career path, it is time to set goals and plan a strategy. Think of it like planning a roadmap from point A to B.

Put down your short-term as well as long-term goals and steps you have to take along the route. Those identified short-term goals will help you stay motivated in route to the long-term goals.

As you begin school you will have an initial burst of motivation and excitement, but staying focused and maintaining your studies requires commitment and an investment of time. You can maintain your energy and focus, but it will require consistency and self-discipline.

“And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].”[Quran 3:159]

How to Select a Career and Stay Focused - About Islam

Your Health

Ensuring you sleep enough, eat properly and give yourself time for recreation is not just about enjoying life, it is about ensuring you are psychologically and physically able to put your best foot forward. Additionally, you must maintain your spiritual health.

Hold strongly to your 5 daily prayers while spending time in dhikr everyday. Instead of rushing out on exam days, give yourself an extra 10 minutes to read Quran and make duaa. If you keep yourself healthy physically, mentally and spiritually you will be able to perform better.

Short-term Goals

You know the long-term goal, but it is important to break this down into smaller segments. It will keep you motivated with incremental bursts of accomplishment. If you only focused on the long-term goal it can begin to feel overwhelming and far away.

Take the time to celebrate every semester you succeed in, reward yourself.

Remove Distractions

I know you love your phone, but set it aside when studying. Remove any distractions from your immediate area. It is in your better interest to not open social media while studying or in class.

Honestly answer this question, what distracts your focus when you should be working? You know that answer. Are you reading this while you are supposed to be studying right now?

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About Monique Hassan
Monique Hassan graduated with honors in 2012 with her BSc in Psychology and a minor in Biology and is certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. She has years of professional as well as personal experience with trauma, relationship struggles, substance abuse, identifying coping skills, conflict resolution, community outreach, and overall mental health concerns. She is a professional writer specialized in Islamic Psychology and Behavioral Health. She is also a revert who took her shahada in 2015, Alhamdulillah. You can contact Sister Monique Hassan via her website "MoniqueHassan.com"