This post will be useful to anyone who has faced difficulties in choosing the right career path. It calls for basing this important decision on motivations deeper than worldly benefits.
I don’t know about you, but for me the choice of career is one of the most important life decisions, on par with choice of life partner. Why wouldn’t it be? We spend one third of a regular weekday at work, plus occasional weekend hours – it means almost a third of our entire lifetime is spent on studying for and then practicing the chosen vocation.
When we decide what we want to be when we grow up, we are making a long-term commitment. Yet many people I know, myself included, have been tempted to base this choice on short-term incentives – usually, the pool of career opportunities and the average salary in the field. And no matter how much we hear the good ol’ advice to follow your heart when it comes to vocation, the temptation to boil it down to tangible benefits often prevails.
The reason could be that we are well aware how in the modern world money and other material possessions are considered to be of great importance. No sugarcoating here – how much you make does affect your day-to-day reality. However, by giving too much priority to the material incentives, we forget that the fulfilment we get (or don’t get) from the work we do affects our life just as much, if not more, than any tangible accessories we can buy on a salary.
When we do the cost-benefits analysis of the future career, our mind can easily put the benefit of high pay in the field over the intangible cost of emotional drain coming from not being in love with what you do. It’s even possible to fool yourself into believing that the nice paycheck coming every month will make you forget that you originally wanted to be a jewellery maker instead of a software developer. What often happens, however, is that materialistic thinking in this matter produces yet another worker who hates Mondays and has trouble understanding where it all went wrong – after all, there was a plan!
The problem may be that the plan was made with a focus on tangible benefits over true preferences. Or that we don’t know ourselves well enough when we first choose to move towards a specific career direction, which usually happens before we even turn 20. Or that we have preconceived ideas about how unrealistic it is to make a full-time living with what we want to do, so we settle for what seems easier and more down-to-earth. Or, we have experienced blockages on the way to the desired career (such as not being accepted to university upon first try), so we decide to take what we can get right away instead of trying harder for what we want. Whatever the root of the issue, it can certainly be solved.
You wouldn’t want to spend a lifetime with a partner you don’t truly love, would you? Then, why would you settle for anything less than the vocation you care about? If marrying someone for money and other tangible goodies is frowned upon in our society, pursuing a career for the sake of good pay should be, too.
Fortunately, we are slowly moving away from seeing a person’s occupation only as a means to make ends meet. More career advice is now available to us, as well as more education options than ever. We have more opportunities to achieve even the most ambitious dreams. Just imagine – 100 years ago, if a kid told his mom he wants to go to the moon, his mom would say it was impossible. Fast-forward to today, astronaut is a recognised and much needed profession, pursuable by regular boys and girls.
Now, if you are in the process of rethinking your career direction, what might help is to consider money of the heart. That’s what you make per hour of doing what you love. And that’s what keeps you coming back to your favourite craft, be it woodworking or drawing portraits or assembling Lego castles.
By giving value to your enthusiasm that drives you to constantly learn more and practice your art of choice, you can avoid committing to a career that only engages half your heart and mind, if that. Think about it – whichever path you choose, you will end up committing almost a third of your life to. Your time here on Earth is invaluable – treat it so! If you will be doing any work at all, might as well be one you want to be doing.
As for the material rewards and the pleasures they bring, here is a quote from a brilliant book called “Man’s Search for Meaning” that give a fresh perspective and justification to choosing your calling over a steady moneymaker:
“Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”
Viktor E. Frankl
I hope this article helps you to see new opportunities and broaden your horizons when it comes to choosing “the one” – the vocation of your life. It’s okay if you have to try a few things before truly committing, and it’s alright to be in doubt sometimes. Just keep moving, go towards what feels right, and remember – whatever your mind can conceive and your heart can believe, you can achieve. (Not my quote, but fits perfectly to finish my post 🙂 )
Enjoy your journey!
It’s been a while since the last post – how have you been? 🙂 And do you relate to the topic of the article?