The Seven P's

The Seven P's comprise 7 crucial factors when considering your future profession.

Step #1

Understand the Seven Elements

Read through and understand what each of the seven elements means, how you personally feel about each one and how each would be part of a given profession.

Step #2

Prioritize the Seven Elements

Prioritize the list of 7 based on how you personally feel they should matter. Then use that new metric to compare your own values with what each profession would provide in those 7 elements.

Step #3

Apply your personal list

Once you've created your personal prioritized list, apply that to the professions you are think of doing.

Factoring how much you'd get paid in any specific profession would seem to be a no-brainer, but in fact, different people have different priorities regarding money. That's why more than anything else, this category is about its relative importance within the complete Seven P's, than any specific amount.

While living in a mansion, and driving a lamborgini certainly sounds nice, are you willing to compromise other factors for that? Could you be happy with a median income if it means the job keeps you fulfilled in other areas? Are you willing to devote years if not decades building up to a 6-figure lifestyle? Are you willing to work in a field thats looked down on by other, in order to afford indulgent luxuries? Or would you prefer a simple life that's easier to maintain?

It's important to keep in mind that Pay is very often influenced by the other P's. It generally balances out. The more negative the other criteria are, the more the Pay will rise to balance it out. And vice-versa. That's why (here's a well kept secret) a lot of skilled, blue-collar jobs offer good pay.

...on to Prestige

A long time ago businesses learned that many employees would prefer lofty, dignified-sounding titles to an actual raise in pay. Therefore they started inventing important sounding titles to offer employees as rewards, while holding back raises. In the white-collar world, this is very commonplace. Wouldn't you like to be able to tell people you're the Vice-President for Regional Affairs rather than Data Processor #12?

How important is it to you to be able to say "I'm a [insert job title]." and have them respond with "Woah, seriously?" However, placed among the other criteria, how does that compare. If you could make well above the median income, but have a profession that doesn't really sound that impressive, would you be satifsifed (Here's a dirty, little secret: In some cities the guy that picks up the garbage makes more than $100,000 a year!!)

This is one reason you always hear Police Officers, Teachers and Nurses complain about how much they get paid. While each of those professions pay well above the median income, they also have a lot of prestige associated with them, thus making the Presige itself part of the benefit.

...on to Pressure

Pressure has the interesting distinction of being both a positive and a negative, depending on the person. Some people simply can't handle too much stress, and would therefore prefer a job that's not much of a challenge. Others, get bored unless they're challenged and crave the pressure, but only in specific ways. Maybe it's a physical challenge you like, or maybe it's a mental challenge or maybe it's excitement and the thrill of possible danger.

However, the more challenging the job is, then the odds are it will pay more. The less challenging, the less pay. This can be balanced by other factors, however. CPAs make good money, and the pressure is usually mild (Tax Season being the exception) but the preparation to become a CPA takes more, thus balancing the factors and increasing the pay.

Also, when you're young, it's easy to over-estimate the amount of pressure you can handle. At the same time, under-estimating it can mean not shooting for a career that could have been much more rewarding both in Pay and in Pressure.

...on to People

There are people you work for, people you work with and in some cases customers or clients you deal with. If you're a very social person, who loves being around people, then that's an important factor. If you're not all that social and do your best work alone, then take that into account, too. Some jobs will require you to work with unpleasant people on a routine basis. Some jobs will require you to deal with people who can become unpleasant, unless you are able to expertly handle them, and deal with their problems.

How many, and what kinds of people will be a crucial factor in determining whether or not any particular profession will be suited to you. Look at how you deal with people right now. Are you a reader? Are you a peacemaker? Are you able to easily cheer people up? Or do you prefer solitude with only the occasional dealings with people?

...on to Preparation

Some careers require no training at all. They also don't pay very well. Others require a short stretch of training, then a series of positions where your expertise is expanded into a full-fledge professional. Others require a four-year degree, while other require six or even 8 or more years of education and trainign. Typically the more preparations a profession requires they better the Pay and the better the Prestige.

Skilled blue-collar jobs typical require a somewhat short training period then on-the-job training as you progess from apprentice, to skilled, to master-level. White-collar jobs typically require a 2 or 4 year degree, then a somewhat low-paying entry level job where you can then advance upwards, based on your particular abilities.

...on to Purpose

This facet of picking a perfect profession may not mean anything to some people, while to others it will be the top priority.

Do you ever worry that when you are 80-years-old, retired and looking back on your life, whether you'll feel that it was well spent? Are you burdened with making a difference in the world? Does it bother you when something good happens you, but not to others?

Some people have a naturally high level of compassion. These people will need to look for professions that allow them to satisfy that need. Whether it be Doctor, Nurse, Pastor, Missionary, Social Worker or run a non-profit charity, that factor will be important.

However, keep in kind, that some people who posses a high level of compassion are able to fulfill that need in themseves by causes outside of work. They work a normal 9-5 job that has little to do with charitable work, but then devote hours in the evening and weekends, or money to the causes that they feel are worthwhile.

...on to Place

This factor means both geographic location as well as work environment. Do you love the city or state you live in, but certain professions are not that available there? Do you hate being cooped up inside all day? Then consider the Place.

If your dream is to become a famous actor or actress, it's doubtful that dream will be realized if you stay rooted in Des Moines, Iowa. You'd need to head to either California or New York. Big cities offer more opportunities for some professions, but also offer environments that some people find distasteful. Whereas small town can be pleasant to live in, unless you grew up in a big city, and enjoy that environment. Small towns can offer a more laid back way of life where the cost of living is less than a big city, and the people you deal with are more personable and friendly.

Telecommuting is becoming more and more of a reality for people as time goes on, so a profession that allows that may allow a compromise between big city opportunities and small town life.