Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Choose your goal

Finally! You have your list and you’ve done the research – it’s time to put it all together and make a decision.

How to choose

Making a choice always means eliminating some options. But don’t let that stop you! The reality is, there is no perfect career. Instead, there are many good careers that could be satisfying. Choosing one of those options will allow you to take your next steps.

  • If you choose a goal: you can take action and start moving forward in life.
  • If you don’t choose a goal: you have nothing to work toward. A year from now, the decision is going to be just as hard. So go ahead and choose a goal!

So how do you choose?

Follow these steps to sort your career ideas and see which is most likely to make you happy.

1. Sort priorities

Top 3 priorities you can’t live without

Create a short list of values that must be part of your future career. Remember: you’ll also have hobbies and a life outside of work. Not everything in life will depend on your career. Make this a list of things that absolutely must be part of your work life.

Some examples

List titled My Priorities with three items: 1 service and helping others. 2 have time to spend on my hobbies. 3 frequent travel.

  • chart bar Employment prospects: I want to work in a fast-growing field.
  • money bill Income and benefits: I need good health insurance coverage for my family.
  • book Education: I want to get a masters.
  • certificate Recognition: I want to move up and be a leader.
  • heart Interests: I want to work with kids in a group setting.
  • road Work conditions: I want to work outdoors, not be in an office all day.

2. Compare careers

Match careers to your priorities

Take your shorter list of occupations and evaluate each career against your most important priorities.

table comparing priorities to top five jobs. Park ranger, law clerk, and art director match at least 2 priorities

3. Rank top 3

list titled My Top 3 with three items: 1 Park Ranger. 2 Law Clerk. 3 Art Director. Item 1 is circled, and there is a note after art director to find out more about this oneJust a few things left to do! These are the final steps in choosing your career.

  1. Cross off any careers that don’t meet at least 2 of your top priorities.
  2. Rank the remaining careers: 1, 2, 3.

In Oregon CIS, you can create a “Lifestyle Priorities Chart”, then use your top priorities to evaluate your top 3 occupations. Find which occupation ranks first!

4. Confirm

Finally, go back over what you learned in Step 2: Research and Step 3: Education. Here is a refresher list: check that you know the facts for your top jobs.

  • check square daily activities are a good fit
  • check square will be openings in my area
  • check square opportunities for advancement
  • check square starting salary is enough
  • check square I can afford that much school

My goal is pretty straightforward: I want to be a certified public accountant. My minor will allow me to write and design financial software, which is an interesting specialty within the CPA field. The sky is pretty much the limit there! Ralph, future CPA

Decision time

If you followed the steps above and ranked careers according to how they meet your needs, the decision should be clear… go ahead and choose the top job!

Help for the doubtful
  • You may not know enough. Learning more will help you choose a favorite. Try a brief job shadow, another informational interview, or short-term volunteer work in the field.
  • You may need an expert. PCC has lots of free help for students! Career Services can help you weigh your options. Counselors can show you options you might be missing.


You have a goal! Many students describe choosing a direction as a life-changing event. Think about this: the next time someone asks you “What are you going to do after you graduate?” you are going to know exactly what to say! Nice, huh?