First before we being, let us note the difference between a job and a career. To keep it simple I have taken the definitions from the Bling Search Engine. A job is a position of regular employment with pay as where a career is an occupation for a significant amount of time within ones lifespan and will typically offer opportunities to grow within the company. Sometimes people use these two words interchangeably and they should never be. In this post, I am strictly writing about career decisions. They are different and should be noted so!
What was considered to be state of the art technology one year ago is almost certain to be obsolete in today’s standards. So for future graduates and individuals just starting your careers I can only give you this advice; don’t count on graduating without having to go back to school to continue your education, regardless of what your career decision may be. Don’t ever assume that the field your education was or is in will be used in the career you choose.
Gone are the days of individuals graduating college and finding a career with one place of employer until they retire. In today’s competitive world, things change so rapidly with new processes and technologies that no or career is guaranteed to last. Your length of employment at one employer is really just buying time to save financially until you are forced to find employment at another employer. You will be considered lucky if you only have to change your place of employment a few different times throughout your career.
Regardless of your age, making a career decision is a very important decision and can be very difficult to make. A career is really an important investment in your time. With the current retirement age at 67 years old for people born after 1959, you should expect to spend a lot of hours working. Let’s for a quick example say you start your career fresh out of college at 22 years old. That leaves 45 years of working span in a lifetime, and at 40 hours a week that works out to be 93,600 hours of work (52 Weeks x 40 Hours/Week x 45 Years). I have not deducted any vacation or holidays off from these hours, but you get the point. You are investing in a very large chunk of your life!
Too often younger individuals are choosing careers for the wrong reasons. Reasons such as their parent(s) had the same or a similar career, they simply had to make a quick decision, they heard it was a good career from someone who knew someone, or it paid well. I guarantee you; nothing good can come from following someone else’s advice or opinions, life choices, or choosing your career strictly for financial benefit.
The main issue with choosing a career at a young age is that we are trying to force young individuals to make a lifelong impacting choice before they are old enough to even understand who they are and what impacts their decisions will have later in life. Think about it; we expect our kids not to have sex, not to consume alcohol, not to smoke, they are not of legal age to vote, and yet we expect them to choose a career for the rest of their lives.
This lack of experience and understanding should not be mistaken for a level of maturity, but rather a lack of life experiences. We must discover things like what interests us and what our passions are- we must discover and understand our own identities. This takes time, and for most of us this is a lifelong learning process. Let’s face it, your interests and passions will be different twenty years from now. What you identify with as an adolescent will not be what you identify with as an adult.
If you don’t believe me, just wait till you have kids…
So what should you focus on when searching for your new career? What should you do if you have doubts of your career decision throughout life? Should you find what interests you, follow your passion, or select a career that gives financial security? Truth is it depends on where you are in life, and what is important to you. There is no one size fits all answer.
Your age and life experiences are what will define your path to career development. If you are young, then having a fulfilling career where you are making an impact and giving back to your community may not be a top priority to you. Your future will be soon facing possible financial obligations such as student loans, children, a wedding, mortgage payments, and other financial obligations that will require you to base your career choices by financial security. Also remember- your current interests and passion(s) will eventually change later in life.
With that change of passion and interests, your career choice may come into question. Realize this is not a failure- but rather a revision in life. You want not only follow your passion and interests, but you want to give back and work on your living legacy in life. You may be willing to risk financial security to pursue your interest and passion. Your career may no longer necessarily be what you want to be doing for the rest of your life. There is nothing wrong with this realization. Unfortunately too many people push forward in a career they hate because of this false fear of failure- only to die an early death.
When making a career change, there are many risks that need to be observed beforehand. What impacts will it have on your financial responsibilities? How difficult will it be to find another career? Does your career change require relocation? Will a new career involve continuing education? Even though it is illegal to discriminate against age- it happens on a daily basis. If the required effort to obtain a new career seems worth it- then you have already made your decision. If you consistently question your career choice on a daily basis- listen to what your subconscious is trying to tell you. You are questioning it for good reason!
So don’t feel ashamed or not normal for doubting your career choice. Our career choices were made without having the life experiences we have today. Our environments change with time, and doubting your career choice is natural. You should always follow your interests and passions no matter how young or old you are. Realize they will change, and changing your career is not a failure in any way!