Choosing a Career Path

Choosing a Career Path


Whether you're unemployed, going to school or working full time, we have all had to consider what career path we want take. Unfortunately, for many, not enough thought goes into this life-altering decision. Many of us end up in a career or on a career path that we don't like, going through the same routine day after day and month after month simply because we are too frightened to make a change and try our hand at something else. If this sounds like you then it might be time to ask yourself if that's how you want to spend the rest of your life and start believing that there is a way to achieve career fulfilment.

In Western society, a great deal of pressure is placed on choosing a career that provides a title and decent wage. From the moment we could talk we are asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Remember answering "a doctor, a vet or an astronaut"? Things seemed so much simpler when we were younger. Then we got to high school and everything changed. When it was time to seriously decide what career path to take, we didn't know what to do. Perhaps we wanted to get into a specific profession and found it was too difficult to get into and then settled for something else. Or maybe you were like me, who knew what I wanted to do but was under the common illusion that the most important thing in choosing a career path is the yearly wage. So we choose our career path to meet these idealisations. I decided on a psychology degree because I liked the sound of being a psychologist and I knew the money would be good. People approved of my choice because it was something I could be good at and because I wouldn't be wasting my potential. But then I found myself five years later with two degrees in psychology and not a clue about what I was going to do with them or why I had chosen to do them in the first place. Something inside me snapped and I realised that I would not be happy in my chosen profession. At the end of the day I decided that the money didn't matter if it wasn't going to fulfil me emotionally.

So I took a leap of faith and quit my Masters course and decided to pursue creative writing. This was met with a lot of umming and ahhing from friends and relatives who thought I had just thrown away all those years on a whim. But my reply to that is, for first time since high school, my life actually makes sense and I am excited about my career prospects. I guess I was too scared to really analyse my initial choice because deep down, I knew that it was not what I really wanted to do and deciding to do otherwise was a very big step, a step into the unknown. If you sound like me, then realise that we are not alone. Each year, thousands of people change career direction. Over a lifetime, it is said that a person can have up to ten different professions. It is important to realise that this does not mean failure. Realising that a certain career/career path is not right for you, is a positive thing in itself. It is not about admitting failure or wasted time, as each experience we have is useful and provides us with knowledge and skills that we can use later in life. Instead, it is about understanding that you are only human and as humans, we have many different interests, needs and desires, which are changing all the time according to circumstance, and these cannot always necessarily be met by one profession.

These days, there is now a greater emphasis on personal skills, interests and qualities. Focusing on your internal feelings can tell you a great deal about what professions you are suited to. Also, importance is placed on developing transferable skills, that is, personal skills and qualities that you can transfer to each occupation you enter, then being able to refine them and ultimately form a match between the two to achieve maximum career satisfaction. So do not give up hope just yet. Take the time to introspect. Analyse your thoughts, feeling, needs, wants and see if where you are/where you are going matches up to these and where you want to be. If it does, then good for you. It sounds like you're on your way to a fulfilling career. If not, then don't be afraid to ask yourself why. There's no point going along with things just because it seems easier to do so. No one is ever stuck where they are and certainly didn't get where they wanted to be by going along with the current. So my advice to you is to grab that figurative lifeline and pull yourself out of the 'river of life' so you can see where that current/career path is taking you. And if you don't like that stream, swim on to another one. You might just be surprised by what else is on offer.

- Danielle Chirico