There are some careers that are held up as the most attractive. Those kinds of lists are often based on monetary reward, or power and influence, or popularity. Sometimes they look at reputation, like the ones that used to put bankers at the top and have moved them near the bottom.
We don’t tend to talk much about those careers on the bottom of the list. Presumably no sane person would want to do those, because they’ll never get rich, they won’t be popular, or they won’t get respect and recognition.
But what’s a career REALLY about?
- Having a source of money to live on.
- Spending your life doing something that really matters.
- Working together with people to accomplish something important.
- Fulfilling your personal mission.
These are each a bit vague, because it’s up to you – personally – to figure out what it means. And you’ll end up with a different answer than most others.
Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. ~Buddha
Doctors tend to be well respected in our society, and we’d like to think that it’s a path to riches and a life well spent. But if everybody went into a career as a doctor, we’d have way too many of them. And most would be unhappy. And all the other important work in society wouldn’t get done.
The same is true of any other profession, whether you find it attractive or not. We need great teachers, but if everybody did it, most people wouldn’t be good at it and wouldn’t be happy. And the other work of society would be ignored.
It’s about balance and diversity.
So when you see an article about the best careers, first realize that it doesn’t help you very much in making your OWN choices. It’s a data point, about who gets financially rewarded, or the most recognition, or strongest reputation, but it gives you no information about yourself.
The worst career you could possibly have is one where you’re not doing anything useful, where you have no fulfillment of mission, where you don’t build great relationships, and where you still can’t afford to live on your income.
But each of those are about you, and your internal and external situation.
This is exactly why it’s important to begin your journey of self-discovery. You have a finite number of years left, and the question is whether you’ll spend the largest chunk of it doing something that’s unimportant (to you), unfulfilling (to you), and of little value (to you).
It’s a pretty daunting journey, though. What’s the roadmap?
There are a number of questions that I’ve used with my clients which seem to have great value:
- What have you consistently been good at? Where do others tell you you’re good?
- In what areas do you enjoy learning?
- What has given you a sense of joy and fulfillment in your life?
- Do you have any inklings of a sense of purpose or mission?
- What would you want your obituary to say, more than just the first sentence?
- What kind of people and groups do you enjoy working with?
Whether you work with a coach or not, these kinds of questions will help you to delve a bit into your interior self. And even if you don’t have an answer now, pondering a question may help you to find the answer in a month or a year.
So start asking yourself the questions now. You don’t want to realize in ten years that you’re in your worst possible career.
by Carl Dierschow